Regional, BC & national BREAKING NEWS  

July 2015 | @SookeVoiceNews & @SookeVoiceLOCAL are posted on our main page.




Regional & national news

Breaking news:


Thursday, July 30.   BC woke this morning to a leadership shuffle as Premier Christy Clark announced changes to her cabinet.  After that tough slog with the BC Teachers Federation last year, Peter Fassbender moves from being Minister of Education over to two new portfolios: he is now Minister of Community, Sport, and Cultural Development and also Minister Responsible for Translink.  Small business was the area for Naomi Yamamoto who now moves from that portfolio over to Emergency Preparedness, which will now be in the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. Leaving Community, Sport and Cultural development is Coralee Oakes, who is now Minister of Small Business, Red-Tape Reduction and Minister Responsible for the Liquor Distribution Branch. Mike Bernier, MLA (Peace River South) is now the Minister of Education. As well, Premier Clark has moved Jordan Sturdy, MLA (West Vancouver - Sea to Sky) from Transportation & Infrastructure over to being Parliamentary Secretary for Energy Literacy and the Environment. Sturdy will chair the Climate Leadership Panel. "Today's changes are about making sure British Columbians in every region benefit from our plan to create jobs by growing our strong and diverse economy," said Premier Clark in a news release. "We have the opportunity now to build on a record of student achievement with long term labour peace in place, to strengthen our support for small business, which is the backbone of our economy, to work together with communities to prepare for the future, and to put in place a plan to prevent and manage emergencies or natural disasters so that our province can recover with our future secured."


BC WILDFIRE UPDATE  Wednesday, July 29.   There are 135 wildfires burning across BC as of today, July 29.  That is a drop from 166 across the province on July 27, and from a peak of 259 fires on July 21. Lightning was the cause of 98 of the current wildfires in BC, the remaining 37 likely person-caused. There were four new fires yesterday.    The estimated cost of wildfire active management was $2.6 million yesterday July 28.  A total of 1,342 wildfires have occurred in BC since April 1 this year, with an estimated 276,431 hectares of forest area having burned. (This figures has been adjusted since further fire investigations have been done.) The total cost of wildfire management to date this year is $162 million compared to $102 million at this point last year. Last year the end of the 2014 fire season say a total $290 million expenditure tally.  About 1,800 personnel are fully engaged in wildfire activity at this time, down from a peak of 2,200 earlier this month. That includes contract personnel and specialists from out-of-province. Hot dry weather is expected in August, says BC Chief Fire Information Officer Kevin Skrepnek, that being the usual weather trend in BC. That could cause increased fire activity once again across the province, Skrepnek said today in a media teleconference.  Continued caution in the back country is requested by the BC Wildifre Service. "Make sure campfires are fully extinguished before leaving the area," said BC's Chief Fire Information Officer.


  Tuesday, July 28.   BC Ferries has 'gone Salish' with the names of three new vessels that are still under construction. From over 7,100 contest entries (received May 19 through June 9 this year), three names were chosen and announced today at a ceremony in Victoria. The Salish Orca will start on the Comox-Powell River route later in 2016, replacing the 50-year-old Queen of Burnaby.  Salish Eagle (replacing the 51-year-old Queen of Nanaimo) and Salish Raven will begin operations in 2017 on the Southern Gulf Island routes. BC Ferries is working with the First Peoples' Cultural Council to select Coast Salish artisans to design artwork for the exterior and interior of the vessels.


Monday, July 27.   Names for BC Ferries' three new intermediate class vessels will be announced tomorrow, July 28. The three names were selected from among 7,000 entries in a contest that opened in May. The announcement will take place at the Royal BC Museum in downtown Victoria. The first of the three new ferries that are being constructed in Poland will arrive in BC in 2016.  One new ferry will take over from the 50-yearold Queen of Burnaby on the Comox-Powell River route.  Another of the new vessels will replace the 51-year-old Queen of Nanaimo on the Tsawwassen-Southern Gulf Island route. The third ferry will fill in during peak and shoulder seasons on the Southern Gulf Islands and be employed when other ferries are being refitted.


BC WILDFIRE UPDATE  Monday, July 27.   There was some sporadic rain in BC over the weekend, and the official fire danger rating has been lowered in some areas. The number of active wildfires has fallen to 166 across the province, from a peak of 259 fires seen on July 21. There were 121 lightning-caused fires yesterday July 26, with the rest being person-caused or are under investigation. Five new fires started on Sunday.  The estimated cost of wildfire active management was $2.9 million yesterday.  A total of 1,340 wildfires have occurred in BC since April 1 this year, with an estimated 297,000 hectares of forest area having burned. The total cost of wildfire management to date this year is $157 million compared to $95 million at this point last year.  Hot dry weather is expected in August, says BC Chief Fire Information Officer Kevin Skrepnek, that being the usual weather trend in bC. That could cause increased fire activity once again across the province, Skrepnek said today in a media teleconference.


Sunday, July 26.   Flora MacDonald was a pioneer for women in Canadian politics. She passed away today July 26 at age 89.  MacDonald served as a Member of Parliament for 16 years, from 1972 and 1988. Her riding was Kingston and the Islands in Nova Scotia. In 1979, she became the first woman secretary of state for foreign affairs representing Canada. She also served as minister for employment and immigration, and also communications. MacDonald was a member of the Progressive Conservative party, and served as their executive secretary for five years in the 1960s.  After leaving federal politics she pursued humanitarian efforts including chairing an international development research centre.  MacDonald publicly opposed the Progressive Conservatives' merger with the Canadian Alliance in 2003 (from which Harper emerged to lead the new Conservatives). Her concerns were over some Alliance members' views on women's rights, immigration and bilingualism that she said were not compatible with those of the Tories. MacDonald received the Order of Canada in 1992, and Companion  in 1998. She received a lifetime achievement award in 2014 from Maclean's Magazine.


Saturday, July 25.   The July 24th 'Parkway Extension' edition of Sooke Voice News is online. Page 1: construction of an extension from Hwy1 over to Hwy14 (Sooke Rd) will be a boon for Sooke-area commuters and tourists who come to this area.  Also, at long last, announcement of a Hwy1 interchange at McKenzie Ave & Admirals Road -- also a boon to Sooke-area and other west shore commuters, mobile service providers, and tourists.  Page 2: Letters from both sides of the coin -- just who are the 'minority interest groups' in Sooke, anyhow?  Page 3: Young Gavin Lerik receives a hero's standing ovation at Council July 20.  Page 3: Maywell Wickheim passed away last week; this week he was recognized in the BC Legislature by John Horgan, MLA. Page 3: Stubborn fire in the household waste at Hartland Landfill.  Page 4: Mama Maja! Yes, the Mayor of Sooke is expecting her first child! A smiling photo on page 4.


Friday, July 24.   The 29th annual Sooke Fine Arts Show is now open for its 11-day run, July 24 to August 3. In its usual spot at the SEAPARC Leisure Complex, the show transforms the 17,000-sq ft arena into a high-level art venue. There are over 375 art pieces on display. The usual 8,000+ visitors are expected this year. So far, road construction on Highway 14 is not an impeding factor (though there might be a slow-down for short bits due to night paving from 7 pm onward in the stretch west of Kangaroo Road as you're heading into Sooke from Victoria). The show's jurors are all active artists this year: Meghan Hildebrand of Powell River (contemporary paintings), Craig Sibley of North Vancouver (sculptor), and Chief Rande Cook of Alert Bay (multi-disciplinary).  The usual annual show setup includes the meandering walkways of art, gift shop, refreshments area, raffle ticket table, and reception. The People's Choice award ballot box is ready and waiting. The show opens daily at 10am, with variable closing times:


Friday, July 24 [updated 3 pm].   All operations of the Hartland Landfill are closed today due to a fire that started on the active face on Thursday evening, says the Capital Regional District (CRD). The landfill will be open to Commercial Accounts only on Sat July 25, then open again to the public on Mon July 27.  The Saanich Fire Dept has been on site since 6:30pm last night to assess and respond to the incident. The fire is in the household waste area, says Saanich Fire. Water tankers from Victoria, Saanich and Highlands have been assisting. "The fire is contained and crews will continue to be on scene today," says Saanich Fire on Twitter around 7:30am this morning. The fire was 50-feet wide and uncontrolled when first discovered. The fire can go quite deep and "be stubborn" in household waste, says Saanich Fire Captain Brock Henson, so today heavy equipment is on site to dig deeper into the garbage to make sure water has penetrated deep enough to completely extinguish the fire.  Water tanker trucks from Victoria, Central Saanich and Highlands were required for shipping in water, says Capt Henson. There is apparently no direct water supply for firefighting at Hartland. The CRD-operated landfill receives household garbage and a range of other disposables from most of the south island municipalities and private haulers. 


Thursday, July 23.   Construction of two improvements to traffic flow in the Langford and Saanich areas was announced yesterday (see July 22 news, below).   The lead was taken by the BC Transportation & Infrastructure ministry, solidly backed up by federal support. In the centre of it all is Langford which stands to economically benefit most by the new McKenzie Avenue interchange and the Westshore Parkway extension. Much work has been done over the years by Langford Mayor Stewart Young to bring both these projects to fruition, something that was clearly acknowledged by BC Transportation & Infrastructure Minister Todd Stone yesterday at a well-attended announcement at the Hwy1 roadside. About 50 media attended, and about 150 politicians, guests, and members of the public from the local neighbourhood. Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell was in attendance. Saanich traffic flow stands to benefit as well, with key commuter destinations being the University of Victoria and Camosun to which west shore residents travel daily. Also at the event was Ida Chong, former BC Liberal Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA. She now sits on the UVic board of governors. Longtime City of Langford Councillor Lillian Szpak was in the throng of supporters for the highway improvements that will be a certain boon to the west shore economic mix. District of Sooke Councillors Rick Kasper and Kevin Pearson were at the event yesterday. The Westshore Parkway extension is sure to benefit commuters to and from Hwy 14 (Sooke Road) -- heading to and from Metchosin and Sooke, and beyond.  Federal Conservative candidate for Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke Shari Lukens (in photo, on the right) was excited about the new highway project. She attended the announcement event with her campaign manager Teresa Sullivan. Some residents of the area expressed concerns about the increased noise of the highway that already imposes noise into the neighbourhoods that are immediately adjacent to that busy section of Highway 1.  A hope for high-quality sound barriers was expressed to media by one resident.


Wednesday, July 22.   A successful, pro-active partnership of federal, provincial and municipal governments has at last produced the required funding and project plan for an Admirals Road/McKenzie Avenue interchange at Highway 1. To the delight of many long-time local and regional politicians, today's announcement about the $85 million project that will improve traffic flow between the western communities and core areas of Victoria and Saanich (for employment, universities, and heading to the airport and ferries) was made adjacent to the highway, seeing $32.6 million from the federal government (New Building Canada Fund's Provincial-Territorial Infrastructure Component - National and Regional Projects) and almost $53 million from the BC government (pending Treasury Board approval). Construction is expected to begin in late 2016 and take about two years to complete.  Another project to enhance traffic flow was also announced today at the noon-time event. There will be a Westshore Parkway extension involving the construction of a 2-lane road about 3.5km long. That extension will connect Highway 1 over to Highway 14, which is of course great news for fastest access to and from Metchosin and Sooke. Bike lanes and sidewalks (in residential areas), as well as sewer and stormwater infrastructure, are all incorporated into the project. This project will see $7.45 million from each of the federal and provincial governments. Even though the Westshore Parkway extension will enhance the region well beyond Langford, the City of Langford will be responsible for the remaining costs of the project, which has a total estimated cost of about $22.5 million.  Construction of this portion is also expected to take about two years to complete.     BC Transportation & Infrastructure Minister Todd Stone seemed genuinely pleased about the "willing partners at the table" to make these projects happen: First Nations, private sector, federal government, BC government, and "the leadership of Mayor Stewart Young and the Council of Langford". A throng of media attended this event ... almost 50 reporters and camera-operators from TV, radio, and print media were there for the big announcement of a project that commuters across southern Vancouver Island will benefit by for decades to come.   Photos by Sooke Voice News: TOP (from left): Langford Mayor Stewart Young; Hon John Duncan, MP, Minister of State; Hon Todd Stone, Minister of Transportation & Infrastructure; and Jordan Sturdy, MLA, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure.  SECOND PHOTO: BC Transportation & Infrastructure Minister Todd Stone enjoys Langford Mayor Stewart Young's podium humour that now finally he can hear about other issues during elections, other than the need for a McKenzie interchange.  THIRD PHOTO: TV and photographers capture a highway view with VIPs, from a cycling/pedestrian walkway over Hwy 1. FOURTH PHOTO: Transportation & Infrastructure Parliamentary Secretary Jordan Sturdy gets a positive chuckle at seeing District of Sooke Councillors Kevin Pearson (left) and Rick Kasper pose for a Sooke Voice News photo with BC Minister of Transportation & Infrastructure Todd Stone (center).  Councillor Kevin Pearson represents the District of Sooke on the CRD's Transportation and Lane Use Committee, while Councillor Rick Kasper has been long-involved with regional politics since the 1990s and remembers the original debates about a McKenzie interchange over 20 years ago.




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JULY archive:


BC DAILY WILDFIRE UPDATE   Tuesday, July 21.   The number of fires across BC is still high, as reported to media today by the BC Chief Fire Information Officer. As of 1pm there were 259 active wildfires across BC, 115 of them new yesterday -- which is a "significant number of fires by any measure", said BC Chief Information Officer Kevin Skrepnek. Today there are 22 new fires, most of them caused by lightning.  The total expenditure on wildfire handling this year has come to about $136 million to date. Over 2,200 personnel are active -- on fire lines, in the field, at command posts and camps, and at communication centres. The 100 personnel helping out from Ontario will be returning home but replacements will be arriving. "People should still be cautious in the back country," says Skrepnek. To date in this year's fire season (since April 1) there have been 1,275 fires in BC. Of those 841 (or about 66%) have been lightning caused. That leaves 434 (or about 34%) that have been human-caused and are therefore considered relatively preventable.

BC DAILY WILDFIRE UPDATE   Monday, July 20.   The number of fires across BC is still high, as reported to media today by the BC Chief Fire Information Officer. As of 1pm there were 209 fires across BC, 16 of them new yesterday. Today there are 60 new fires, most of them caused by lightning.  The total expenditure on wildfire handling this year has come to about $132 million to date. Over 2,000 personnel on on fire lines, in the field, at command posts and camps, and at communication centres.


Monday, July 20.   Post-secondary institutions are receiving $12 million from the BC Government to invest in new trades training equipment.  The funds are being issued to 14 public post-secondary institutions so that students planning to enter in-demand occupations can learn their trade using industry-standard technology. The funding is part of what was called simply "the BC Blueprint" in a news release today (otherwise called the BC Jobs Blueprint or BC Skills for Jobs Blueprint ). The $12 million is part of the BC Government's investment of $185 million over three years in new trades training equipment and facilities.  There will be one million job openings in BC by 2022. More than 78% of jobs will require some form of post-secondary education said the Advanced Education ministry today in a news release. Apparently 13% of the one million projected job openings to 2022 are for "in-demand trade occupations". "The BC Blueprint outlines how the province is re-engineering the education system -- from kindergarten through to post-secondary training and beyond -- to make sure education and training aligns with BC jobs."  Education changes are being based on the BC 2022 Labour Market Outlook which is presented in two parts -- a market outlook based on economy without LNG, and one with LNG in the viewfinder. The Twitter handle #findyourfit is part of job push.


Sunday, July 19.   A tour of working farms in the Sooke area is happening today Sunday, July 19. It's an opportunity to meet regional growers on their home turf and learn more about crop gardening. The self-guided tour runs from 11 am to 5pm, rain or shine. Tickets for adults are $15 (kids under 12 can join the tour for free). Tickets are available at The Stick coffee shop, Shoppers Drug Mart and Peoples Drug Mart in Sooke. Produce will be available for purchase, bring your own bag. Wear non-slip shoes. Leave pets at home. Volunteers will be on site to assist at each location. "We welcome you to bring a camera and notepad to record growing ideas," say Sooke Food CHI organizers. CHI folks will also be photographing through the day.  According to Sooke Food CHI, 50% of farmers are or will reach retirement age in the next 10 years. Few have a succession plan in place that ensures their farms will continue to be food-producing.  More info:


BC DAILY FIRE UPDATE   Friday, July 17.  The number of recorded active fires in BC is 159 as of a report by BC Wildfire at 1pm today, down from 166 yesterday, and 197 one week ago. Of the current fires, 16 are of active note. i.e. large and/or affecting communities.   There are seven Evacuation Alerts and Orders currently in effect, affecting 96 properties, 200 homes and about 300 residents.  On Vancouver Island, 21 recreational properties continue to be affected by the Dog Mountain wildfire in the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District.  The BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations continues to caution all British Columbians to be diligent with fire safety and to report all wildfires to authorities. Campfires are still banned in most regions, but cooking stoves (including BBQs) that use gas, propane or briquettes are permitted. Now that cooler, wet weather has arrived, there is a positive outlook for the containment of current fires, the BC Forest ministry said in a news release today. Info:


BC LEGISLATURE: LNG UPDATE   Friday, July 17.  The debate about an LNG deal between the BC Government and the Malaysian-state-owned Petronas energy company will continue in the BC Legislature on Monday July 20. There were four days of debate this week (July 13 to 16), in a rare summer session of the BC Legislature. First and second reading of Bill 30 about the Project Development Agreement between BC and Petronas have seen NDP MLAs and also Green Party MLA Andrew Weaver voting against the Bill. Overall concerns from the Official Opposition are the lack of any guarantees for a significant number of local jobs and a 25-year 'tax holiday' for the foreign-owned energy corporation.


Thursday, July 16.  The big banks have responded quickly to the Bank of Canada's July 15 drop of 0.5% in the key rate. Most of the big banks have dropped their prime lending rate to 2.70%.  A 5-year-fixed rate of 2.5% can be found at most banks today, according to some financial pundits on national news this morning. When the bank rate dropped earlier this year, the banks were slow to respond. This time it seems they've realized they need to pass on the benefits to consumers through better rates for mortgages and equity-based lines of credit. How much lower can rates go? It would seem to make sense to lock in mortgages for longer terms at the current low rates. Economists are speculating that people will spend the difference in savings out there in the economy, as one way of re-energizing the Canadian economy. On the other hand, Canadians are told to save. So, it remains to be seen how much courage people have to face the unknowns of the economy at this time. The other hope of the Bank of Canada as articulated by economists is that a lower interest rate is good for manufacturing exports.  It's unclear how strong that component of the Canadian market is as a mechanism for strengthening the overall Canadian economy.  All things considered, the Canadian economy appears flat-line and fragile, inching its way forward out of a hole.


Thursday, July 16.  IKEA will be installing electric vehicle charging stations at all of their Canadian stores. Setting up the 60-amp EV charging station is an effort to ensure that all its Canadian customers will have the ability to travel to the store with zero tailpipe emissions and to recharge their EV while shopping. The rollout will start by the end of August 2015, with the first installations in Quebec. In setting a corporate tone of social responsibility, IKEA says they are going to transform their business "to ensure that it is fit for the future and will have a positive impact on the planet". The charging stations are being provided and set up by the Canadian company Sun Country Highway.


Wednesday, July 15. Progress is being made on the development of a 36-unit affordable housing building in Langford, BC. An official celebration of the construction progress was held today at the 550 Goldstream Avenue location. Attending and delivering brief speeches were representatives of the three levels of government that contributed funding.  Guest speakers were [from left in photo - Copyright 2015 Sooke Voice News] Hon John Duncan, Minister of State and MP for Vancouver Island North;  Mayor Stewart Young, City of Langford; and Hon Rich Coleman, BC Deputy Premier and Minister Responsible for Housing.  Details about the project were delivered by M'akola Housing Society CEO Kevin Albers who hosted the outdoor event under bright skies on this windy morning.  Funding has been a joint effort. The governments of Canada and BC are providing a combined investment of almost $4.9 million through an Affordable Rental Housing initiative. The BC Government is providing almost $6.3 million in construction financing. The City of Langford is providing $236,600 in municipal grants and reductions. M'akola Development Services is providing about $1.9 million in equity, by providing the land. The Aboriginal Housing Management Association will provide a yearly operating subsidy of $43,868.  The housing will provide 2-bedroom and 3-bedroom units for aboriginal families, which is not all that common in affordable housing, explained BC Housing Minister Rich Coleman. M'akola CEO Albers reminded the crowd of about 100 people how people's lives can be changed "180 degrees" for themselves and their family's future, by having access to affordable housing.  Albers says there are about 1,000 people on the waiting list for affordable housing, just with M'akola alone, let alone with other agencies around BC.  The M'akola Housing Society and M'akola Development Services will settle into the new building at 550 Goldstream Avenue as their new head office. Construction completion is targeted for February 2016.  "Our society has been made very welcome in Langford," Albers said.  Langford Mayor Stewart Young said today is a very important day for Langford as this housing shows "diversity in the community of Langford". He said this type of project "would not be possible if everybody hadn't worked together".  Mayor Young said that people "recognized the need and made something actually happen".  Langford has helped developed four buildings like this so far, and Mayor Young hopes there will be more in the years ahead.  Crowd photo: people gathered at the 550 Goldstream Avenue construction site ahead of the 10:30 am event today.


BC DROUGHT UPDATE   Wednesday, July 15.  Water users are reminded to ensure that water intakes are screened to prevent fish from being pulled into water systems as water levels drop during the drought. Vancouver Island is already on Drought Level 4 (since July 3) --see explanation of drought. Today BC Forests announced that the South Coast and Lower Fraser are at Drought Level 4 due to ongoing low stream flows.    "Although residential, agricultural and industrial users within municipalities and regional districts backed by reservoir storage are less vulnerable to water supply shortages (than users served by smaller systems from streams, lakes and wells), all water users are encouraged to observe local water conservation bylaws to prolong water supplies and maintain flows for fish and ecosystems.


BC DAILY FIRE UPDATE   Wednesday, July 15.  The number of recorded active fires in BC is 175 as of a report by BC Wildfire at 1pm today, down from 201 on Tuesday. Of those fires, 10 started yesterday, and 14 started on July 13.    Of the 175 fires, about 18 are 'of note', i.e. large and/or affecting communities (same number as yesterday). Many of the other fires are small, smouldering incidents that are dealt with before they become larger. There are seven Evacuation Alerts and Orders currently in effect. As of today July 15, about 96 properties in BC are on Evacuation Order with over 200 homes and about 300 residents on Evacuation Alert. On Vancouver Island, 21 recreational properties are affected by the Dog Mountain wildfire in the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District.  Info on current BC wildfires and burning bans, as well as safety tips: 


Wednesday, July 15. The Bank of Canada has lowered its key interest rate to 0.5% this morning. That is a drop of 1/4-percent. While this is intended to encourage big business to invest in hiring and infrastructure, that hasn't borne out with previous rate cuts; money at the top is being held onto tightly. Capitalism does not really have much altruism in its DNA. Big corporations are putting their shareholders first.  A general fear that consumers may take on more household debt could be unfounded. Anyone who had to rein in their debt since the Great Recessionary drop of 2009-2013 is not likely to begin bleeding dry again.  The main danger to the overall Canadian economy now is that the overinflated housing market will attract speculators.  That could potentially crash the market for average householders and first-time homebuyers in that home prices could rise to what almost no average working family can carry.  Whether the big banks cut their prime lending rates remains to be seen. They are almost at the point where they don't make money, hence the recent spate of this-and-that fee increases for other banking services.


Wednesday, July 15. ECONOMY OUT OF WHACK.  On top of a decrease in the key lending rate by the Bank of Canada today that shows a struggling economy (see news item below),  most Canadians can't afford to save more for retirement and wouldn't put extra into the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), according to a recent survey done by Ipsos-Reid for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). People would put money into a TFSA or RRSP before putting more into CPP, even that option were available. The survey also revealed that about 60% of working people "can't afford to save more".  "No matter how you ask the question, fewer than one in five Canadians supports putting more of their hard-earned money into the CPP," says CFIB president Dan Kelly.  Over one-third of Canadians say they would be forced to reduce spending on essentials such as rent or food if a mandatory CPP hike were introduced, . When it comes to cutting back on these sorts of basics, there is no other way to see the economy other than troubled.


BC DAILY FIRE UPDATE  Tuesday, July 14.  The number of recorded active fires in BC is 201 as of a report by BC Wildfire at 1pm today. Of those fires, 14 of them started yesterday (July 13) , 13 started July 12, and 48 started on Saturday July 11.    Of the 201 fires, about 18 are 'of note', i.e. large and/or affecting communities. Many of the other fires are small, smouldering incidents that are dealt with before they become larger. There are six Evacuation Alerts and Orders currently in effect. Today the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson expressed his concern that many of these fires are human-caused. In many cases that means a tossed cigarette butt or a campfire.  Minister Thomson announced that fines and the administrative penalty structure for fires will be revisited. Ways of possibly increasing fines, impounding vehicles, and/or banning repeat human-caused-fire offenders from BC Parks will be looked at. The exploration will be coordinated by Mike Morris, MLA (Prince George) who serves as the Parliamentary Secretary to the BC Forestry minister. As of today, the campfire ban has been lifted for only Haidi Gwaii and the Fog Zone. Rain is expected again by Monday or so (July 20), which might reduce the official level of Fire Danger Level in parts of the province.  Info on current BC wildfires and burning bans, as well as safety tips: 


Tuesday, July 14.  Yesterday it was "all about that LNG" in the BC Legislature with a 5-hour first day of debate between the government and the Official Opposition.  Opening up an entirely new industry in BC with the proposed Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) rollout, Premier Christy Clark spoke to a proposed contract that BC has negotiated with Petronas (a state-backed private corporation out of Malaysia). Where there's money to be made, capitalism will come. [Photo from Internet, previous date.]  So while Petronas appears willing to bring $36 billion to the BC economy, what looks like a Petronas-first, BC-second setup has set the NDP to opposing the deal. Repeated references were made to a similar deal in Australia where there are more guarantees and paybacks to the general population and First Nations, as well as clear environmental responsibilities.  This summer session of the BC Legislature is almost entirely about discussing this deal called Bill 30. MLAs usually take the summer off.  NDP Leader John Horgan and several of his key MLAs spoke against Bill 30, saying it gives little to British Columbians and a lot to private enterprise, while taking a swipe at the environment and ignoring the potential fuller diversity of the BC economy.  Of course, the politics was thick. From the outset Premier Clark and prominent Ministers and Liberal MLAs clearly implied that the NDP would wear their opposition all the way to the provincial ballot box in 2017. NDP Environmental advocate Spencer Chandra Hebert (Vancouver West End) had the tough job of addressing the truth of the environmental concerns in Bill 30 as presently proposed [screenshot from July 13, 2015 BC Legislative webcast]. "We're giving away the store," Chandra Hebert said about the deal with Petronas. He said that Petronas would get to "write the regulations" but then British Columbia "would have to pay you from harming the environment". "That makes no sense. That approach fails our future. This government is selling out our environment, selling out the future," he said. Later in the session Energy & Mines Minister Bill Bennett called Chandra Hebert's approach "honest".  NDP MLA Jennifer Rice (North Coast) said the deal holds "zero job guarantees for British Columbians".  "The Premier has sold out BC families and BC workers for political purposes," she said. "This is a bad deal for my community and a bad deal for BC. So I oppose," she said. And so it went from each of the NDP MLAs in turn who spoke.  The NDP appear to be in a bit of a spot, in that they have every justifiable reason to oppose or challenge the proposed agreement (jobs, payback to everyday British Columbians, environmental concerns). But if the deal does go through with the might of BC Liberal votes in the legislature, the NDP would be stuck with the deal anyways if they win the 2017 election. The good news for the NDP is that the Liberals would not be coming hard out of the gate with election strategies two years ahead of the 2017 provincial election if they weren't worried about the strength of the NDP. In the May 2013 BC election, Premier Clark made big promises about LNG being good for the economy, and in many ways her political back is now to the wall. The evidence of that is how strikingly blatant the push-back was on the NDP before they even detailed their concerns about Bill 30. She came out of the gate with an attempt to instigate doubt and fear in anyone who might oppose the Bill. The way MLAs will vote on Bill 30 "will be counted in the pages of history -- we will be able to say what side of the debate we stood on."  Premier Clark outlined three principles that the proposed agreement with Petronas is based upon: 1) ensuring that British Columbians get a fair share of a benefit of a resource that belongs to them; 2) protecting the environment with the cleanest LNG facilities in the world; 3) creation of investment and jobs, that will be created fairly.  Premier Clark now relies on deals with international mega-corporations to go through the BC Legislature, and on the success of setting up a province-wide educational restructuring to give BC workers a fighting chance at the jobs that are not guaranteed in this first deal at least. Apparently if future deals include improvements to this first one, there is the option for early contracts to be renegotiated to the favour of the corporations on those retroactive points.  Minister of Energy and Mines Bill Bennett wrapped up the 5-hour session with glowing remarks about Premier Clark, crediting her with vision to open up this new industry for BC. He said the deal with Petronas would bring tax revenues and jobs for ordinary people. "It's profoundly important for people across the country."  MLAs are back in the Legislature this morning, July 14, at 10am. Live webcast:  


Monday, July 13.  Over $75 million in funding for BC's trades training providers was announced today by BC Premier Christy Clark and the Industry Training Authority (ITA). The funding is for a current period up to March 31, 2016. The funding is a response to objectives outlined in BC's Skills for Jobs Blueprint.  "Our goals with the Skills for Jobs Blueprint has been to ensure British Columbians are first in line for jobs in our growing, diverse economy," said Premier Clark in a news conference at noon today outside the BC Legislature. Nearly $72 million will be allocated to training providers in regions throughout BC. There is also a responsive funding resource of $3.5 million called a Labour Market Demand Fund. That fund will address unanticipated demand in apprenticeship or foundation programs, emerging needs and innovative partnerships in BC 's skilled trades training system. The demand for trades workers is expected to grow exponentially for key industries in BC such as LNG, oil and gas, mining, shipbuilding and hydro that will be in need of skilled trades people who have received advanced and innovative training. "Promoting innovation is a key strategy to successfully planning for future labour market needs," said Gary Herman, CEO, ITA.


 BC DAILY FIRE UPDATE  Monday, July 13.  The number of recorded active fires in BC is 221 as of 1pm today, says BC Forests. Of those fires, 13 of them started yesterday (July 12) and 48 started the day before, on Saturday July 11. The information was given in a media conference at 1 pm out of the BC Wildfire Coordination Centre out of Kamloops.  The count of 48 new fires on July 11 was topped by 67 new fires on July 10 (the highest of any one day so far -- most of which were caused by lightning).   Of the 221 fires, about 21 are 'of note', i.e. large and/or affecting communities. Many of the other fires are small, smouldering incidents that are dealt with before they become larger. There are eight Evacuation Alerts and Orders currently in effect.  There are 2,500 active personnel doing fire-fighting activity in BC as of today (over 1,000 of those are on contract). There are 50 fire management personnel arriving from Australia today; they will be briefed for two days and then head in the field on Thursday July 16. The cost of $2.5 million to bring in Australian help last year was considered "worthwhile to protect life and property"  Info in today's media session was delivered by Navi Saini, information officer, BC Wildfire Management Branch.  Info on current BC wildfires and burning bans, as well as safety tips: 


Monday, July 13.  EDITORIAL: LNG on the agenda, and why care?   The BC Legislature convenes for a summer session today. The key reason for pulling MLAs back off summer vacation is the government's desire to discuss LNG. You can watch live at starting at 1pm.  Specifically, there is a large deal with Malaysian petro-industry giant Petronas on the table. What will the royalties be to British Columbians? What jobs will be promised? What environmental protections will be mentioned and promised?  BC Premier Christy Clark is leading the way with a news conference at noon outside the legislature about trades-related jobs in BC, ahead of the 1pm start of the legislative session. The Official Opposition under John Horgan will have a big job to speak up for the people of BC today, indeed for future generations. The environmental impact of LNG in BC could be significant; apparently most of the product will be developed with fracking. Fracking is thought to be a major environmental problem and a health risk due to possible contamination of soils and drinking water. If you're new to what fracking is all about, see an upbeat interactive explanation at  Try your own interactive exercise: what other ways can there be more jobs in BC other than through LNG projects?  Off the top of one's head, there is agriculture, intensified tourism, manufacturing of unique new creative products, high-tech (Including software and systems), development of new learning tools for schools and adult education, innovative forestry and marine research, sports and fitness training, home and landscaping enterprises, and the list goes on toward creating a diversified value-added modern economy. Any government that can pull together a diverse and innovative jobs profile for the future will be serving British Columbians better than putting all eggs into the LNG basket.


Sunday, July 12.  Warmer temperatures provide three ideal conditions for forest fires: dry fuel (i.e. dried-out foliage and a dry forest floor), an ignition agent (e.g. lightning), and hot, dry windy weather that encourages fires across a landscape. There is some current thinking that perhaps large forest fires are a way that nature re-sets the ecosystem of landscapes. After spruce and other evergreens [top photo] burn away they are replaced by deciduous trees [second photo] that apparently burn less easily in wildfires. These large fires are, therefore, helping the forest transmute to a new state of stability for the future.  As far as seeing major areas of wildfires die down any time soon, not likely: a 15% increase in precipitation is required to compensate for every additional degree in temperature.  In BC a 'modified response' to wildfires has been the approach for about 10 years. The policy is protect human health and safety first, followed by communities and critical infrastructure, cultural values, watersheds, high value habitat, and timber values.


BC DAILY FIRE UPDATE   Sunday, July 12.  The number of recorded active fires in BC is 251 as of noon today, says BC Forests. Of those fires, 48 of them started yesterday (July 11).  The count of 48 new fires on July 11 was topped by 67 new fires on July 10 (the highest of any one day so far -- most of which were caused by lightning).   Of the 251 fires, about 22 are 'of note', i.e. large and/or affecting communities. Many of the other fires are small, smouldering incidents that are dealt with before they become larger. There are six states of local emergency due to wildfire in BC today, and 13 Evacuation Alerts and Orders currently in effect.  One of those local emergency areas is on Vancouver Island (in the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District due to a fire near Dog Mountain at Sproat Lake in central Vancouver Island -- see photo).  Info on current BC wildfires and burning bans, as well as safety tips: 


BC DAILY FIRE UPDATE  Saturday, July 11.  The number of recorded active fires in BC is 238 as of 1pm today, says BC's Chief Fire Information Officer, Kevin Skrepnek. Fifteen of those fires started on July 9, and 67 on July 10. Information was given in a teleconference to media today.  The count of 67 new fires on July 10 is the highest of any one day so far. Sixty of those fires were caused by lightning.   Of the 202 fires, about 21 are 'of note' and affecting communities. Many of the rest are small, smouldering incidents that are dealt with before they become larger.  In one day yesterday, July 9, the amount spent on fire suppression was $3.8 million. Total spent to date in the 2015 fire season has been $100.2 million (revised from $100.5 million in yesterday's report). Fires tallied at 1,025 in the 2015 season so far have burned 279,000 hectares of land. That is more than double the number of fires handled in 2014 -- there were 453 fires in 2014, seeing 13,000 hectares burned  (those numbers updated since yesterday's report) and $40.2 million spent. The multi-year fire season average is 559 fires and 24,219 hectares burned. It will take significant rainfall to reduce the degree of wildfire intensity, said BC Chief Fire Information Officer Skrepnek.  "More than a few days of rain" would be required, he said. Moisture would need to seep below the top layer of 'fine fuel', into the 'duff' moisture level below that, and then into the 'drought code' layers which are 15 to 20 cm below the soil. "It does take a sustained period for rain to seep in and affect those deeper layers," Skrepnek said.  Air quality concerns remain only in the Kamloops and Whistler areas at this time, said BC Health Officer Dr Perry Kendall today.   The BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations is holding daily media news conferences by phone, so that media can be updated on the province-wide fire situation. 


Saturday, July 11.  The July 10th 'Town Centre' edition of Sooke Voice News is now online. Front page story about the official groundbreaking for construction of the Sooke town centre roundabout on Highway 14 (Sooke Road) that was held July 6 by Sooke Mayor Maja Tait and (on behalf of Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Todd Stone) Don McRae, MLA. There is an update on continuing BC wildfires and air quality concerns. HPV vaccinations are being offered to boys and men in BC starting September 2015. Apartment residents have been displaced by a sofa fire, many now under the care of the Canadian Red Cross.   Tree trimming in Sooke andd East Sooke continues all summer, right into fall, as part of maintaining power-line safety.


 BC DAILY FIRE UPDATE   Friday, July 10.  The number of recorded active fires in BC is 202 as of 1:30 pm today, says BC's Chief Fire Information Officer, Kevin Skrepnek. Fifteen of those started yesterday.  As determined by Sooke Voice News during the media conference today, of the 202 fires, about 19 are 'of note' and affecting communities. Many of the rest are small, smouldering incidents that are dealt with before they become larger.  In one day yesterday, July 9, the amount spent on fire suppression was $3.8 million. Total spent to date in the 2015 fire season has been $100.5 million. Fires tallied at 950 have burned 253,000 hectares of land to date this season. That is more than double the number of fires handled in 2014 -- there were 448 fires in 2014, seeing 11,800 hectares burned and $40.2 million spent. The multi-year fire season average is 552 fires and 24,219 hectares burned.  The BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations is holding daily media news conferences by phone, so that media can be updated on the province-wide fire situation.  [Photo from Globe & Mail online].


BC DAILY FIRE UPDATE  Friday, July 10.  Air quality conditions have improved, with only the Comox Valley still under an Wildfire Smoke Advisory on Vancouver Island, says the BC Ministry of Environment.  During a smoke advisory, people with underlying health conditions such as diabetes, or lung and heart conditions (as well as the very young and very old), should still exercise and move about outdoors with caution, says BC Provincial Health Officer Dr Perry Kendall. Today July 10 the Air Quality Index is highest in Comox at 8 (out of 10), with Kamloops at 6, Whistler 5, Squamish 4, and the rest of BC at 2 to 3.


BC DAILY FIRE UPDATE  Thursday, July 9.  Air quality conditions have improved, says The BC Ministry of Environment in collaboration with Island Health. As of about 9:20am this morning, they have has ended the Wildfire Smoke Advisory for the south coast of Vancouver Island and for Campbell River. Meanwhile, the Wildfire Smoke Advisory continues for the East Coast of Vancouver Island -- from Comox to Cowichan Valley, including the interior community of Port Alberni, as forest fire smoke is still affecting these areas.  Info:  During any air smoke health advisory (still affecting the east coast of Vancouer Island, Metro Vancouver, and parts of the BC interior), the BC Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall says that people with underlying health conditions such as diabetes, and heart and lung problems, should reduce their outdoor exertion. If healthy people doing active outdoor activity feel distress, they should cut back on their exertion, says Dr Kendall.


Wednesday, July 8.  Last weekend two five-month-old black bear cubs were taken to a wildlife recovery facility instead of being killed [photo by CTV News], which got a suspension without pay for Conservation Officer Bryce Casavant who made that decision. In that incident in Port Hardy, the mother bear was shot and killed 'for being a garbage bear' after taking salmon from a freezer. But Casavant said there was noevidence they'd eaten human food too. Habituation to eating human food is usually a reason that wild animals are killed, under BC wildlife policies. There has been a lot of public commentary about why a conservation officer would be suspended without pay for having taken compassionate action. The bears are being assessed by provincial veterinarians and wildlife biologists to determine their level of habituation to food conditioning it was said in a news conference held this morning in Victoria by BC Environment's Conservation Officer Chris Doyle  . Becoming comfortable around humans and human-source food is not the fault of the bears. But Conservation officers are charged with protecting people from wildlife.  Householders and businesses were asked by Conservation officer Doyle today to be responsible about keeping food and garbage away from wild animals.  "The situation and all the actions that took place are being investigated," said Doyle in a news conference webcasted on CHEK TV. He said that "the bears were exposed to conflict, and that some level of habituation and food conditioning".   Overall, it appears the Conservation officer in the original incident was giving two young bear cubs a chance. If further assessment shows they have become habituated to human food, then a further decision will be made.  However, the North Island Wildlife Recovery Association says the two cubs show "no sign of habituation and could be released back into the wild next summer", according to a CTV News report. The twin bears have been named Jordan and Athena by the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre. The bears will be in the care of NIWRA for 18 months. They are up for 'adoption' with $25 donations as a fundraising effort to help pay for their care. Donations can be made online. See:


Wednesday, July 8.  The level of water in the Sooke Lake Reservoir is 84% says CRD. The reservoir supplies all of Greater Victoria. CRD is still officially at Stage 1 Water Restrictions (restricting lawn watering to 2 times per week, May through Sept). A higher level of conservation will be considered if Sooke Lake Reservoir level projections change," said CRD on July 7. Meanwhile, residents and businesses are asked to limit their outdoor water use, to help maintain supplies for indoor uses and fire protection.  There has been no rainfall in July so far, and only 7% of normal rainfall levels in June.  See the CRD website for water conservation tips.


BC DAILY FIRE UPDATE  Wednesday, July 8.  A Wildfire Smoke Advisory continues for the east and south coast of Vancouver Island, says the BC Ministry of Environment in collaboration with Island Health. "There were improvements in most communities overnight but smoke is still aloft over most of the island today," says Earle Plain, Air Quality Meteorologist, Air Quality Section, BC Environment. The affected region includes from Campbell River to Victoria, including the interior community of Port Alberni. The advisory is due to forest fire smoke that is affecting most areas. Smoke concentrations vary widely as winds, fire behaviour and temperatures change. "This situation is expected to persist until meteorological conditions change," it was stated in a release this morning.  People are advised to avoid strenuous outdoor activities.  These symptoms could indicate the need to contact a health care provider: difficulty breathing, chest pain or discomfort, or sudden onset of cough or irritation of airways. Exposure is particularly a concern for infants, the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, and lung or heart disease. Tips such as staying cool, drinking plenty of fluids, and cutting back on activity if breathing becomes difficult, are posted at: Environmental complaints may be emailed to .


  Tuesday, July 7.  All campfires are prohibited in the full Coastal Fire Zone as of noon on July 8, including the 'fog zone', the BC Ministry of Forests said today in a news release.    This is to help prevent "human-caused wildfires and protect public safety".  This prohibition does not apply to CSA-rated or ULC-rated cooking stoves that use gas, propane or briquettes, or to a portable campfire apparatus that uses briquettes, liquid fuel or gaseous fuel so long as the flame height is less than 15 cm. The use of briquettes in established campfire rings in campgrounds is no longer allowed. The fine to break this prohibition is $345, or be required to pay an administrative penalty of $10,000. If convicted in court, the fine would be up to $100,000. Payment of all firefighting costs can also be required "if the contravention causes or contributes to a wildfire", the BC Government said today.   BC Wildfire news on Twitter @BCGovFireInfo and on Facebook at BCForestFireInfo


Tuesday, July 7. The fire ban in BC now even includes the 'fog zone' due to the severity wildfire activity in BC so far this season.   The BC Wildfire Service has responded to 887 wildfires this season. As of July 7, approximately 40 homes were on Evacuation Order and 920 on Evacuation Alert.  Yesterday there were 23 new wildfires that started in BC. As of today, July 7, there are 184 active fires.  Eighteen of those active fires are "of note", and eight have evacuation alerts/orders in effect. Today 70 firefighting personnel have arrived from Ontario, to assist with BC firefighting efforts in the coastal and southeast areas.


Tuesday, July 7. Time is not being wasted! Yesterday afternoon, signage was already being put in place on Highway 14 (Sooke Road and West Coast Road) on either side of upcoming construction zones, to advise travellers about the road construction that was announced earlier on Monday by the BC Government and the District of Sooke (see article July 6, below). A roundabout will be created in Sooke town centre  as well as sidewalks, new lighting, new curbs, and some widened shoulders for cyclists. Paving will occur in town centre on Sooke Road between Otter Point Road and Church Road. Resurfacing will be done on East Sooke Road between Gillespie Road and Pike Road.  In the section from Kangaroo Road east to the four-lane section there will be repaving and the shoulders will be widened  to 1.5 metres and paved to accommodate cyclists. The construction will start soon and is expected to last into September.


Monday, July 6. A smoky haze continues to fill the skies over Sooke (and Vancouver Island) this morning, as about 68 wildfires continuing in northern and mainland BC.  There is little to no wind to move the smoke on. Continued dry hot conditions in BC have fostered the continuation of fires. Yesterday morning (until mid-afternoon) the skies appeared orange with the effect of forest fire particulates in the air, but today just grey. As was issued last night (see story below) by the BC Environment ministry and Island Health, there is air quality concern due to smoke concentration in the atmosphere. "This situation is expected to persist until meteorological conditions change, " they advise, and people are to "avoid strenuous outdoor activities". See full July 5 advisory at    Photo of the sun in a hazy sky: by Ellen Lewers in the Saseenos area of Sooke this morning.


Sunday, July 5. There are 68 wildfires burning in BC, 115 in Alberta and 110 in Saskatchewan as of July 5.  Continuing hot, dry weather is continuing to contribute to the ongoing fires.  In some northern areas, people are being evacuated from their homes (in some cases there is a voluntary order).


Sunday, July 5. The smoke hanging in the air today in Sooke, Colwood, Langford and all over south Vancouver Island is from forest fires on the BC coastal mainland, trapped in the atmosphere under minimal wind conditions. This morning, sunshine through the haze made the sky appear orange (see story below).  As of 7:16 pm this evening, the BC Ministry of Environment (together with Island Health) have issued an air quality advisory. The advisory is for the east and south coast of Vancouver Island, from Campbell River down to Victoria, "because of forest fire smoke that is affecting most areas". Smoke concentrations will vary widely as winds, fire behaviour and temperatures change.  This situation is expected to persist until meteorological conditions change, says the BC health advisory.  As for Sooke:  "I would say there is a good chance there will be more days like this through the summer," says the Sooke fire chief.  The health advisory says to avoid strenuous outdoor activities. If any of the following symptoms are experienced, a person is to contact their health care provider: difficulty breathing, chest pain or discomfort, a sudden onset of cough or irritation of airways. Exposure to this level of smoke is "particularly a concern for infants, the elderly and those who have underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, and lung or heart disease".  Stay cool and drink plenty of fluids. Smoke levels may be lower indoors, however levels of smoke particles will still be increased -- if staying indoors, be aware of symptoms.  Health info is available 24/7 in BC by calling 8-1-1. Real time air quality information in BC is available at


Sunday, July 5. Even though over 50 horses have died in the last 20 years during the chuckwagon races at the Calgary Stampede, and even though animal rights activists have called for an end to the event, it all continues. Today a 10-year-old thoroughbred male horse called Duke had his right hind leg shattered upon impact with another team's cart. The animal had to be euthanized on the spot, as the injury was considered too severe to be rehabilitated. The driver received a $2,500 penalty and a five-second penalty for interference. Video footage of the still-running injured horse (as the front-right lead of the team) was sad to watch, as the animal was evidently in excruciating pain.  According to a CBC news report, the Calgary Stampede changed its rules in 2011 "in an effort to make the sport safer" after four horses died the previous year. Photo from web (by Post Media), showing moment of injury.


Sunday, July 5. There has been an orange haze over the skies of Sooke today from about 11 am to about 2:30 pm. The haze lost its orange colour by then, but has continued grey and heavy into evening. The smell of smoke and filmy soot have been in the air. Vehicles had headlights on mid-afternoon to improve visibility.  The orange colour was caused  by the abundance of wildfires in BC -- specifically an easterly outflow of winds bringing smoke to Sooke and Vancouver Island from active wildfires on the BC mainland. Fires within the Boulder Wildfire Complex yesterday have grown due to gusty winds and drought code conditions, says the BC Wildfire Service. In Sooke there is no wind, temperatures are warm, and humidity seems high.  The orange was visually gorgeous ... but overall gave an eerie feeling to the quiet morn of Sunday. There has been no measurable rain for several weeks. Level 4 Drought Conditions apply for Vancouver Island. The Sooke Reservoir through which CRD Water supplies Greater Victoria with water was down to 85% at July 3. Campfires are banned throughout all of BC (since July 2). The July 1 fireworks were cancelled in Sooke due to the forest being so dry. Articles and links about drought and water restrictions in the July 3 edition of Sooke Voice News.


Sunday July 5. Princess Charlotte was christened today at the age of 9 weeks, in a formal church ceremony on the Sandringham Estate. That's the same church as where the late Diana, Princess of Wales had been christened as a baby, and where Queen Elizabeth II and her family attend at Christmastime.  While British Royal events usually offer up splendid photo opportunities, this event was kept as private as possible. Only a few glimpses of the baby princess seem to have been captured by big-lenses of the major press. Apparently, however, the local crowd was allowed to take selfies with some of the royal family after the christening.  Prince George (who will be 2 years old this month, on the 22nd), tagged along with his parents Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (aka Kate). Princess Charlotte has no royal godparents -- all five of them are either cousins (one from Kate's side, the other from William on his late mother's side) or friends of her parents from school days. The christening speech by the Archbishop of Canterbury was not flowery -- it focussed on beauty being more than physical appearance or position of power.  Photo (as posted by BBC): The Duchess of Cambridge held her daughter HRH Princess Charlotte outside the church, after lifting her from a pram (that was used by the Queen for two of her children) before entering the Church of St Mary Magdalene for the christening.


Sunday July 5. Voters in Greece have said 'No' (Oxi) to the bail-out deal that was offered to their country by the 'big banks' (International Monetary Funds and others, backed by other European nations). The deal was seen by the no-vote supporters as a way to keep the Euro currency in good standing by way of keeping Greece in austerity for many more decades. Austerity over the past five years has generated desperate financial situations for many people in the country. Some people have lost their properties and businesses to the financial system, and those who were reliant on pensions have seen those cut back. Some pensioners have seen their grown children leave the country to find work abroad.


Saturday, July 4. The July 3rd Drought-Conservation edition of Sooke Voice News is now online.   Fishing in streams and rivers was suspended July 3 due to Level-4 drought conditions on Vancouver Island. Water conservation is still at Level 1 for households in the Capital Regional District.  Water supply in the Sooke Reservoir is at 85% capacity.  There is a $75 fine for water misuse. The Sooke Fine Arts Society seeks volunteers to help out from now up to the show date, doing setup. On July 6, Sooke Mayor Maja Tait will join up with BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) to officially announce some town center upgrades (including the roundabout) outside Evergreen mall. Two federal Green Party candidates will share an office in Langford for the upcoming campaign.  The annual outdoor Fling! concert at Ed Macgregor Park comes up July 12.


Friday, July 3.   Freshwater fishing in streams and rivers is suspended in much of southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands as of July 4. Lake fishing is not affected.   Responding to dry conditions, the BC government has announced a Level 4 drought rating for Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, and taken the additional action of suspending angling in streams and rivers throughout southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands due to ongoing low stream flows and warming water temperatures.  To see a map of the areas covered by the stream and river angling closures:
At Level 4, conditions are extremely dry. Further declines in stream, lake and aquifer levels could lead to water shortages and affect people, industry such as agriculture, wildlife, and fish stocks. All water users are urged to maximize their water conservation efforts.   The closure has been put in place to protect fish stocks at a time when they are vulnerable due to low flows and high water temperatures. The geographic area covers Bamfield south to Victoria on the west coast, and Campbell River south to Victoria on the east coast. Key rivers affected by the order include the Caycuse, Chemainus, Cowichan, Englishman, Gordon, Little Qualicum, Nanaimo, Nitinat, Oyster, Puntledge, San Juan, Sooke, Trent and Tsable. The Qualicum (known as "Big Qualicum") and Quinsam rivers are the only rivers or streams in the affected area exempt from the closure. Tese two streams have sufficient water refuges to adequately protect fish, even with normal angling pressure.  BC government fisheries biologists are monitoring approximately 75 other key angling streams across the province, and if conditions warrant, additional closures are possible. Lake fishing is not affected by the order. Angling closures are enabled through the British Columbia Sport Fishing Regulations of the federal Fisheries Act.  Separately, specific actions could include the temporary suspension of short-term water approvals or water licences in affected watersheds if necessary. Ministry water management staff will continue to monitor conditions, work closely with First Nations, local governments and key stakeholders, and provide updates as the need arises.  Although residential, agricultural and industrial users within municipalities and regional districts backed by reservoir storage are less vulnerable to water supply shortages than water users served by smaller water systems from streams, lakes and wells, all water users are encouraged to observe local water conservation bylaws to prolong water supplies and to maintain flows for fish and ecosystems. Water users are also reminded to ensure that water intakes are screened to prevent fish from being pulled into water systems as water levels drop. Low water levels can impede the passage of salmon to spawning grounds, increase susceptibility to disease, or cause stranding or death due to low oxygen and high water temperatures. Water conservation is everyone's responsibility. Many communities in BC are prepared to deal with water supply shortages and low streamflow conditions through drought management plans and water conservation programs that are already in place. In June 2015 the Province updated its 2010 Drought Response Plan.  Drought info:


Wednesday, July 1.   The 148th anniversary of confederation is being celebrated across the country today on Canada Day, Wednesday July 1. There has been rain off-and-on in Ottawa for the official event on Parliament Hill.  Editorial (June 26 SVN, page 2) on why it's important to celebrate Canada, no matter your political stripe.  Local Sooke Canada Day event coverage


Tuesday, June 30.   Earth is slowing down. World timekeepers will add one extra second to the day as of 5 pm PDT today, June 30, 2015. One second has been added to the world's timekeeping 25 times since 1972 says . Also interesting about tonight, there will be a close conjunction of Venus and Jupiter in the western sky -- easily seen by just looking up. The two 'bright planets' won't appear to be this close again until August 2016.


Monday, June 29.   BC Ferries has a zero-tolerance policy for drugs and alcohol on their ships and at their terminals, it was stated in a news release today. In June there were 15 incidents where police were called out to a BC Ferries property due to a suspected impaired passenger.  BC Ferries encourages customers who witness the consumption of drugs or alcohol to report it to a BC Ferries employee to ensure the safety of customers and employees. "The prevention of crashes and deaths due to drinking and driving is very important to BC Ferries all year long, " it was stated in a news release today. "Under contract to the Province of BC, BC Ferries is the service provider responsible for the delivery of safe, efficient and dependable ferry service along coastal BC."


Friday, June 26.   The June 26th Canada Day edition of Sooke Voice News is now online. Front page: all about this year's Canada Day Sooke celebration on July 1. Prolonged dry heat sees all burning prohibited in Sooke and West Shore.  Canada Day is for all Canadians [Editorial], pg2.   Tech sector successful in BC [Op-Ed], pg 2. Society has failed this generation [Letter], pg.2.   Orange cones show where paid parking is required at public boat launch, pg.3.  Fireworks might be cancelled if this dry heat continues, pg.3.  Summer reading club at Sooke Library, pg.4.   Communities in Bloom in December this year, pg.4.   Visit nine farms in 4th Sooke Farm Tour, pg.4

Drought continues at Level 4 on Vancouver Island as of July 3. Water conservation in CRD (south island) is Stage 1. Campfire ban still in effect & Fire Danger Rating is EXTREME.

  July 24th Parkway Extension edition   The weekly print edition of this newspaper is online (to receive the full PDF version on date of publication, get your digital subscription today). For the print edition, subscribe for delivery by postal mail or direct to homes in Sooke core area). A limited supply of free greyscale print copies is available for pickup at Sooke-area coffee shops, hotel lobbies, and library.

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"Best-ever editorial (July 10th edition), for telling it like it is."  ~ Herb Haldane, Sooke (July 2015)

"You have a wonderful, factual newspaper. It provides a great service."  ~ Marion McLellan, Sooke (July 2014)

"Great edition once again (SVN May 16, 2014). Thanks for all the useful and newsworthy articles. The Sooke Voice News is a great way to keep up with what is going on. Thanks for what you do."  ~ Michael Galizio, president, Sheringham Point Lighthouse Society (May 2014)

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Sooke Voice News [ISSN 1925-2722] is an independent newspaper and online news service published by Brookeline Publishing House Inc, a BC company that is committed to quality news service, in support of a knowledge-based economy. Through news coverage we inform the community and through advertising opportunities we help support the marketing efforts of businesses and community organizations in Sooke.  We appreciate the support we receive from many leaders in business and the community in the form of subscriptions, sponsorships and advertisements.




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