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Wed. Jan.28. Today January 28 is Data Privacy Day. The day was started in January 2008 as an extension of the Data Protection Day in Europe. The BC government reminds people to protect their privacy online by 'clicking carefully' and ensuring that any apps are not accessing any unnecessary personal data.  The reported number of identity theft and fraud incidents has grown 50% since 2010 in BC, with over 2,500 incidents reported to police in 2013.  "Think before you click" is the new mantra. Convention 108 In 1981 was the first legally binding international treaty, dealing with privacy and data protection.


Tues. Jan.27. This flu season has been dealing with the only partial protection for H3N2 provided by this year's flu vaccine, as the H3N2 has mutated part-way through this year's flu season, says Island Health. On Vancouver Island there has been a high incidence of flu in 39 seniors care homes this flu season (now down to eight), compared to rapid-spread in only one care home last year, says Island Health. Last year's low incidence of flu epidemic in senior care homes "was uncharacteristically low", says Island Health media relations officer Sarah Plank.  That low effect on seniors last year was due to the predominant virus being H1N1 which affects middle-age people more than seniors. This year the predominant H3N2 virus is affecting seniors more than other age groups. Across Canada, there have been 3,127 hospitalizations for flu this 2014/2015 season and 179 deaths (stats as of January 17, 2015). On Vancouver Island there have been seven deaths with flu as a contributing factor. The height of this year's outbreak was in late December and early January; since September 2014 there have been 318 people hospitalized with flu. Presently there are 68 people in hospital with influenza, including seven in intensive care. Over the last four influenza seasons in Canada, the number of paediatric hospitalizations reported has been relatively stable, says the Public Health Agency of Canada. The best way to not spread flu is to wash your hands frequently, sneeze into your elbow or tissues, and stay home if you're not feeling well. "Even though we appear to be through the worst of it, we continue to see active influenza in the community," says Sarah Plank, media relations, Island Health.


Mon. Jan.26. BC CAPITAL REGION. Most communities realize that population growth is tied to economic development but not all municipalities can achieve success with economic growth in challenging economic times. One example of economic success has been taking place in the municipality of Langford (west of the Victoria town core), where 3.9% population growth was seen between 2013 and 2014 (population now 34,677 which is a gain of over 4,000 people since 2011). Langford Mayor Stewart Young attributes the growth to the way the municipality encourages commercial development so that the town has a wide range of options for live-work-play.  In that same period (2013-2014) the city of Victoria had 0.4% growth (population now 83,200) while the large Saanich municipality (population now 110,767) had a loss of 0.4%.  View Royal (between core and west) saw 1.8% growth.  Rural municipalities Highlands and Metchosin that are west of Langford had 1.6% and 1.% growth, respectively. In Sooke (which is the western-most municipality in the Capital Region) has struggled economically since the evaporation about 10 years ago of forestry and fishing as the economic mainstay. With a smattering of tourism interest and the lure of lower-cost homes, there was a get-away population surge during 2006-2010. But now Sooke has seen a population a loss of 1.1% in 2013-2014, as local jobs are scarce (population now 12,257) and the commute along the winding Highway 14 can be a deterrant for some.   Source of stats:  BC Stats


Sun. Jan.25. A variety of fishing and wildlife applications will be available online only, effective Monday, February 2, 2015 says BC Forests, Lands and Natural Resources. The latest permits to move online include: Angling guide, game guide outfitters and transporters' licences; export permits; transportation permits for endangered species, rainbow trout and farmed sturgeon; scientific fish collection permits; fur trade and trapping licences; and various permits specifically required under the Wildlife Act, including permits for possessing dead wildlife or wildlife parts; capturing, possessing or importing live wildlife; rehabilitating injured wildlife; and operating a vehicle in an area closed under the act.  Info: 


Sat. Jan.24. The BC Ministry of Agriculture says it is consulting with the organic sector about developing a "three-pillar approach to strengthen the awareness and reputation of BC's organic foods" locally, across Canada, and around the world, it was stated in a news release today from the agriculture ministry. Regulation of the use of the term 'organic' is part of the strategy, as well as a provincial or national certification program. The BC organic sector is varied and includes livestock, dairy, vegetables, fruit and berries, spice and herbs grains and seeds, and many specialty value-added products. Info on the existing voluntary BC Certified Organic Program.


Fri. Jan.23. The Jan.23 print-PDF courtesy edition of Sooke Voice News is now online.  Front page story about the new envelope-free ATM at the TD Bank in Sooke.  Also on page 1 -- a story about population changes on the West Shore, where the count is up in Langford but down in Sooke. Page 3: Consumer debt remains high, and Bank of Canada has lowered their base rate to 0.75% this week in response to oil prices being half of what they were a few months ago. Page 3: The Sooke Region Tourism Association has big plans for 2015.  Page 4: Should the Sooke Food Bank ask for more from the District of Sooke?


RAINFALL WARNING.  Thurs. Jan .22 [6 pm]. According to Environment Canada, a Pineapple Express rain event will reach the outer coast of Vancouver Island by Friday morning, January 23, and continue to move eastward during the day, over the entire coast from Victoria to Haida Gwaii. "This continuous stream of moisture will give non-stop rain for two days," a report issued this evening said.  The highest rainfall amounts will occur over the windward southwest slopes with 2-day amounts as high as 120 mm on the western side of Vancouver Island, and up to 90 mm on the North shore mountains. Very high freezing levels will accompany this rain event.  Localized flooding in low-lying areas in possible, says Environment Canada. Updates:  |


Thurs Jan. 22. BC Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson will participate in an Emerging Technologies Panel Discussion on Friday January 23 after visiting North Island College.  The minister is also slated to announce funding to support trades students on Vancouver Island. North Island College has campuses in Campbell River, Courtenay, Port Alberni, Port Hardy, and Ucluelet as well as offering courses online.

Wed. Jan.21.
The Bank of Canada lending rate has been cut by a quarter of a percentage point, down to 0.75% from 1%,
citing the economic threat posed by plunging oil prices. The rate was previously  unwaveringly pegged at 1% since September 2010, as the Canadian economy recovered from the economic crash of 2008-2009.  This morning Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz (photo from said that the 'surprise' announcement was to, in part, cut off at the pass some possible volatility that may have resulted in the coming weeks as lower oil prices start to cause problems in the overall economy. Other than lower gasoline prices for consumers and some sectors of manufacturing, the low oil prices that hit the international market at the end of 2014 are already causing cutbacks in the petroleum industry sector and jobs associated with that. Poloz says his estimates are based on a median oil barrel price of $60; presently the price is about $46.  By comparison to this uncertain phase in the Canadian economy, the economy of the USA appears to be booming forward as US President Obama was pleased to announced in his State of the Union address last night. The US lending rate is at zero, which naturally is helping to stimulate their economy.


Tues. Jan.20. Randall Garrison, MP has succeeded in working the system in Ottawa to ensure that an 84-year-old grandmother would not be deported. Surjit Bhandal has lived in Canada for several years to care for her nephews as their mother was severely disabled. A recent decision by the federal government now ensures that Ms Bhandal, who is in frail health, will not be deported to India. "Since February 2012 I have been working to ensure that Ms Bhandal is allowed to live out her life here in Canada, with the family she has raised and lived with since their birth," said Garrison today from Ottawa in a news release. "The Conservative government must acknowledge all the diverse families that exist in Canada. We need to make sure that all Canadian families get fair treatment under the Immigration Act and that cases are resolved in more reasonable time frames," Garrison said.  Randall Garrison (NDP) is in his first term as MP for Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca. In the upcoming federal election, Garrison is standing again for the seat for the riding that spans from portions of the core Victoria area, along the west shore through Esquimalt and View Royal, and up the west side of the island through Colwood and Sooke as far as Port Renfrew. The upcoming new name of the riding (electoral area) for the 2015 federal election is Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke. Including Sooke in the name of the riding was achieved in large part due to efforts by Randall Garrison with the boundaries commission and in Ottawa.


Tues. Jan.20. The Canadian government will be spending as much as $100 million to protect its computer systems against cyber attacks, it was reported in The Globe and Mail last week. Good to see the initiative, as it means that taxpayers' and citizens' information will presumably be better protected, but it also indicates how badly the protective measures were handled prior to that. According to the Globe and Mail, the government did take some sort of action during a hacking incident by a Chinese state-backed hacker into the National Research Council's computer system in summer 2014: "Senior government officials say they were aware of the hacking effort some time before they acted to shut it down, and instead lurked in the background gathering information on the cyberintruders."


Mon. Jan.19.  The Green Party of Canada opened their West Coast office on Saturday, January 17 in Victoria. The ribbon-cutting official event was attended by Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands. The office is located at 843 Fort Street in the heart of downtown Victoria where green community events and gatherings will be held in the future. Also attending was Green Party of BC leader Adam Olsen. The Green Party says it plans to win over a dozen seats in the next federal election which will be held later this year.


Sat. Jan. 17.   The Jan 16th Kitchen Scraps edition of Sooke Voice News is now online.  BC news stories include another way to help parents sign up their children for future education benefits, and also a midwifery program at UBC to streamline licencing for midwives trained outside of Canada.  Sooke Mayor Maja Tait sits on the new CRD First Nations Task Force (see pg.3)  And of course lots of news about Kitchen Scraps, including the launch of as an ongoing news service by Sooke Voice News.


Thurs. Jan.15. The Capital Regional District (CRD) is undertaking to produce a 20-year sustainability plan, aiming for implementation in a 2018 to 2038 period. The plan will affect all 13 municipalities in the south island region. Public input is available by online survey to February 15.  


Sun. Jan. 11. SOLIDARITY for DEMOCRACY Over one million people took part in a mass gathering in Paris, France today as a statement in support of democracy and free speech including elected leaders from democratic nations around the world. This was intended as a show of solidarity against Jihadist terrorism that has been targeting various symbols or practices of democratic and religious rights, most recently in France this past week when a satirical magazine's staff was attacked as well as a religious-based grocery store, in total killing 17 victims. Sooke Voice News report on the Charlie Hebdo (pg1 - Jan 9, 2015 edition), and editorial on free speech (pg2).  


Sat. Jan.10. TRAVEL ALERT. If you are travelling outside of Canada  it's a good idea to check the Country Travel Advice and Advisories as posted by the Government of Canada.   Victoria-based Merit Travel agent Melanie Davis, who works out of her office in the westshore area, says security travel warnings have been issued for all persons travelling through the USA. Davis suggests to be aware of the situations that may affect safety and well-being abroad. "This may include an advisory for a country or region where security conditions which put Canadians at heightened risk," she says. Information about travel advisories is available 24/7 at the Emergency Watch and Response Centre.

Fri. Jan.9.  The front page of the January 9, 2015 edition of Sooke Voice News features an editorial report about the terrorist murder on French journalists, and an editorial on pg2 about freedom of expression as a force that reveals and heals. More about communities coming to terms with garbage and kitchen scraps - page 3.  Sooke community has 800 people on local medical clinic wait list - page 3.


Thurs. Jan.8. A national day of mourning will take place in France on Sunday, January 11 to memorialize political journalists singled out and murdered in Paris yesterday. Meanwhile, in Canada today, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said that the "international Jihadist movement has declared war -- on anybody who does not think and act exactly as they wish they would think and act. They have declared war on any country like ourselves that values freedom, openness and tolerance ... it's not going to go away".  Freedom of expression and freedom of the press were under attack in the killings in France, Harper said. "It is the reality of the world we're living in, and we're going to have to deal with it for some time to come," he said to crowd in BC after announcing an apprenticeship program (photo from streamed video).  Debate among four guest commentators on the CBC's Power and Politics show today was somewhat split on whether Harper's comments were political grandstanding in an election year or whether his strong words to a crowd were genuinely indignant over yesterday's events in Paris.  Editor's Note: Sooke Voice News will say here that Western nations are very much in danger of becoming far too complacent about real dangers in today's world, and about how fragile is the state of democracy in a world where some would aim to take away personal freedom of action, speech and indeed life.  It's understandable that we want to hold onto the civilized life we have in Canada without thinking darker thoughts -- but that's precisely why we need to actively protect it. Canadians need to pay attention to the lessons of how Winston Churchill had a difficult time convincing England to enter World War II; efforts to begin the battle against Hitler's Germany came almost too late. Counter-intelligence, surveillance and some restriction of personal liberties is quite sadly a likely outcome of increasing terrorist activity that is being directed now at many democratic nations (seen recently in Ottawa in Oct 2014 and in Australia in December 2014, before the Jan 7 attack in France) that are actively fighting terrorist efforts in Syria and Iraq. When our nation's prime minister speaks up about defending our country, it's pretty astonishing to hear political pundits quickly dismiss it as political grandstanding.  Not that every single thing a prime minister says should be blindly believed; but to lose the ability to decipher what is real from what is talking points, is in itself a slippery slope in the public process. ~ SVN


Tues. Jan.8.  The West Shore RCMP has a new officer in charge of media: Cst Alex Berube held a media meet-and-greet today, attended at the West Shore RCMP detachment by media reps from the Times Colonist, Goldstream Gazette, Sooke Voice News, and Victoria-based TV outlets. There are 69 officers at the West Shore detachment (which polices Langford and Colwood), compared to 15 at the Sooke RCMP detachment (under S/Sgt Jeff McArthur who handles Sooke but also the rural area right up to Port Renfrew including T'Sou-ke Nation and the Pacheedat First Nation area). Cpl Kathy Rochlitz will remain involved with the media portfolio at the West Shore detachment as both Supervisor of Cst  Berube and as backup in Cst Berube's absence. Cpl Rochlitz also handles community policing, First Nations liaison and other duties in the Langford-based detachment.


  Wed. Jan.7. Ten journalists and two police officers were murdered in Paris, France this morning (Paris time) following a terrorist attack by two armed gunmen who targeted the editorial office of the weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo. The publication's co-founder and publisher/editor-in-chief Stéphane Charbonnier, 47, was among the targeted journalists, along with three cartoonists well-known in Europe for their satire of current elected leaders, religions and social issues. Several more people were injured and taken to hospital. Quickly on Twitter and in large crowd-gatherings, the new slogan Je Suis Charlie (I am Charlie) sprung up; at one point the #JeSuisCharlie hashtag was tweeted 4,000 per minute today. People in crowds held up pens to declare that the power of the pen (ideas) is more powerful than the power of violence. Democratic leaders around the world -- including US President Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Harper, and UK Prime Minister Cameron  --  declared the violent event as an attack on freedom, freedom of speech, and democracy.


Mon. Jan. 5. Extremely heavy rainfall is currently resulting in combined stormwater and wastewater overflows along the shorelines of Greater Victoria, says the Capital Regional District this afternoon, January 5. Residents are advised to avoid swimming or wading in waters along these shorelines, as the wastewater may pose a health risk. Wastewater (sewage), heavily diluted by stormwater is now flowing into the ocean at several outfalls in these areas. The areas affected extend from Finnerty Point, near Queenswood, to Clover Point, on Dallas Road and from McLoughlin Point west to Saxe Point. Capital Regional District (CRD) Water Quality is in the process of collecting samples. As a precaution and in consultation with Island Health and the local municipalities, beaches within the affected areas will be posted with public health advisory signs until sample results indicate otherwise. The signage will be removed once the enterococci levels are below the 70CFU/100mL recreational limit.


Mon. Jan.5.  BC ADVANCED EDUCATION UPDATE.  BC has invested $6.8 million to fund an additional 1,424 critical trades seats at 14 public post-secondary institutions throughout BC it was announced today in a news release from the BC Ministry of Advanced Education.  These trades seat "make it even easier for individuals to get the training for in-demand jobs," the release said.  An expanded BC Access Grant makes trades training more accessible for students in financial need. Eligible students may receive up to $16,400 in non-repayable funding to study in-demand foundation trades programs such as steamfitting, heavy-duty equipment mechanics, carpentry, welding and millwright. The release says there are expected to be 1 million job openings in BC by 2022 (see ). The BC Government's 2014 to 2022 timeline implies about an 8-year phase until most of the older workers have retired, and that they are allowing at least 3 or 4 years for the post-secondary programs to get up and running to full capacity to produce employable graduates.


Mon.Jan5.  BC EDUCATION UPDATE. A forum called BC Focus on Learning: Rising to the Global Challenge will be held in Vancouver on January 29, featuring five international experts on education transformation, it was announced today in a release from the BC Ministry of Education.   "These experts will engage influential education, economic and business stakeholders (including teachers and school administrators) to highlight BC's international leadership in education transformation," the release said. The forum will lay the foundation for a series of regional tours that BC Education Minister Peter Fassbender will lead to continue the education transformation discussion at the local level and highlight work already underway in specific schools (Grades K to 12). Tour stops will be announced in the weeks ahead.


Sun. Jan. 4.  FEDERAL ELECTION PREDICTION for 2015. As we head into this federal election year, Sooke Voice News predicts a Conservative win this coming Fall 2015 (election presently scheduled for October 19, 2015), returning Harper as leader and Prime Minister but with a smaller majority than presently held. The NDP will hold onto their BC stronghold, we predict, but will lose some of the 'rush' seats that were won in Quebec in 2011 when Layton was the leader. More seats than at present will swing to the Liberals under Justin Trudeau.


Fri. Jan. 2. Jan 2nd NEW YEAR print-PDF edition of Sooke Voice News is now online. First meeting of District of Sooke Council: new seating  Greater Victoria house sales up in 2014  New Year's break-in at SEAPARC  The changing face of levees (editorial)   Stabbing incident in Grant Road home, and another on Townsend Road near the church  BC to spend $17.4 billion on health are in 2015  Alpine ready for kitchen scraps pickup  Two west shore home invasions


Fri. Jan.2. Health care funding will reach a record level in BC in 2015 -- $17.4 billion, which is more than double the amount spent in 2001-2001, says a BC Ministry of Health news release this week. "In BC, we invest a tremendous amount in our health-care system -- nearly half the total provincial budget -- to ensure that British Columbians live long, healthy lives," said Health Minister Terry Lake. He describes the health care system as "incredibly complex" and says BC is constantly striving to improve health care through "ongoing investments in health infrastructure, services and programs for patients and health care training."  New and expanded health care infrastructure came at a cost of $824.1 million in total project costs in 2014. 


Thurs. Jan.1. Happy New Year 2015!  It looks like 2015 will be a year with continued financial challenges for all levels of government in the face of continual citizen expectations for health, education and safe communities but with looming shortfalls in gas-tax revenues due to a plunge in oil prices in late 2014.


Wed. Dec.31. For the second year in a row (and the fourth time in five years), Olivia was the top name for girls born in B.C. in 2013, according to the BC Vital Statistics Agency. Liam reclaimed the number one spot for baby boys replacing Ethan, which was tops in 2012, after edging out Liam the previous year. The top five names for girls born in British Columbia in 2013 were Olivia, Emma, Sophia, Emily and Ava. For baby boys born in 2013 in B.C., the top five names were Liam, Mason, Ethan, Lucas and Benjamin. Only names whose frequency occurs five or more times are listed. There were 43,925 babies born in B.C. in 2013, which includes 22,491 boys and 21,434 girls. More information: :


Tues. Dec.30. Today the BC NDP have issued a Reality Check that reviews their assessment of the BC Liberals during 2014. Their document "BC Liberals in 2014 - A lot of talk, little to show" includes critical assessment of affordability (including hydro rates & ferry fares), clawback of income assistance payments, LNG, and education.


Sun. Dec.28. Each year, one in three BC seniors experience at least one fall, says a BC Health news release this weekend, based on data from last winter for persons over the age of 65. "Falls are a common cause of injury for older adults and the main reason seniors lose their independence," says Michelle Stilwell, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health for Seniors. The new release emphasizes some common sense tips such as wearing footwear with a non-slip tread, choosing cleared sidewalks and well-lit routes, as well taking a cell phone for emergencies. The list of tips also included eating foods high in Vitamin D and calcium and/or taking supplements to get the recommended daily intake to support muscular strength and bone health. 


Sat. Dec.27. On Boxing Day, many people cash in their Christmas-gift lottery tickets, or scratch them to find they are 'not a winner'.  "Gaming revenues in BC generate hundreds of millions of dollars that help support health care, education and key services for all British Columbians," said Coralee Oakes, Minister of Community, Sport and cultural Development, in a news release on Boxing Day. Last week the BC Government said $2.1 billion is the annual net revenue from the BC Lottery Corporation, with Finance Minister Michael de Jong saying in a release that about half of that supports health care, education and social programs.


Fri. Dec 26. The Dec 26th edition of Sooke Voice News is now online. Front page story is about kitchen scraps pickup and how Alpine is taking the lead with that for the west shore (pg1). Editorial this week on the distinction between public relations, marketing and journalism (pg2).  Op-Ed from BC Government about tourism in 2015 (pg2). Year-End message from Mike Hicks, Juan de Fuca Electoral Area director (pg3). Glimpse into 2015 (pg4)..


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