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Sept.30. The first case of Ebola that has presented in North America was revealed today by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. The infected man is a visitor from Liberia, visiting family members who are resident in Texas. The man presented felt ill on September 26 and went to hospital but was sent home; he returned to hospital in north Texas with further symptoms on September 28. The announcement was made by CDC at 3 pm today, September 30 by CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden who said the strain of Ebola that has caused this infection is only as a result of direct contact with an infected patient, and is not transmitted by airborne proximity.  Dr. Frieden says CDC will "stop this in its tracks" using proven methods of disease control.  People who were on the same flight on September 19 from Liberia to the USA are not considered to be at risk, as the patient was still in the incubation phase of the illness.


Sept.30. Attention travellers! Baggage fees will start with WestJet on Oct.29 ($25 one-way fee for a first checked pag on Econom fares for travel within Canada and between Canada and the USA) and with Air Canada on Nov.1. There are now stricter size restrictions for carry-on handbags as well.


Sept.29. The rain came back in Sooke today.


Sept.28. This weekend was warm and bright, both Saturday and Sunday, in Sooke. No rain.


Sept.27. Weather has turned cooler in Sooke today, though the week's rain has abated and the sun is poking through. In Sooke today a new road will be officially opened at 11 am, with a small celebration of infrastructure hosted by Mayor Wendal Milne. - see Local Breaking News.


Sept.26. Four District of Sooke councillors were at the UBCM convention in Whistler this week -- see pg1 story in Sept 26th edition of Sooke Voice News.   Editorial: post-recession realization that 'nothing is free' may change grant process in Sooke. Letter: Telus is proposing a cell tower for Sooke town center. Page 3: NDP Leader John Horgan is starting to talk LNG. Page 3: Sooke RCMP is fining people weekly in Sooke for distracted driving. Page 4: Sooke Legion is getting some new flag poles after Canadian flag was stolen on Canada Day -- Randall Garrison's office pitched in a flag too!


Sept.25. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper spoke today at a United Nations-sponsored Maternal and Child Health summit. He thanked the World Bank for organizing a way to keep funds 'growing magically' toward the cause of improving the health and positive birth outcomes for women and newborns, a fund to which Canada has now contributed $100 million. Overall, Canada has committed to contributing $3.5 billion over 5 years toward reducing infant mortality and improving care for women giving birth in disadvantaged countries. Canada has specifically contributed $100 million toward improved birth registration systems in countries where a lack of birth records makes it difficult to provide needed and ongoing health care services.


  Sept.25. Both major Canadian TV news networks (CBC and CTV) report their own polls of the last 24 hours, showing that Canadians are concerned about the growing threat of home-grown terrorism and showing generally 65% to 75% of those polls with the view that dual-citizenship should be revoked if someone has been found to be participating in terrorism of a nature that is harmful to Canada.


Sept.24. "It's a seemingly darkening time," is how Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott put it today in his speech to the United Nations (UN) Security Council about the growing worldwide threat of ISIS (also called the Islamic State) which he called "a death cult". US President Barack Obama has chaired the committee for the last two days, calling on all free and democratic nations to support America's leadership with international counterterrorism. British Prime Minister David Cameron also spoke very much in favour of supporting the US-led attack on ISIS, saying "this is a fight you cannot opt out of". Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a media interview before addressing the UN, that he would approach cabinet to discuss expanding anti-terrorism commitments from the current 30-day 'assessment and support' phase. [Photo of Obama:  as sourced via Google. Photo of UN assembly: Reuters as sourced via Google]


Sept.23. BC Ferries hopes to reduce fares by saving fuel costs by converting two Spirit class vessels to operate on both liquified natural gas and diesel. This will apparently eventually reduce fares by 3% (within 7 to 8 years of the conversion) from what they would otherwise be, producing an anticipated annual savings of $9.2 million. The two target ferries for this conversion are the Spirit of Vancouver Island (conversion during scheduled refit fall 2016 to spring 2017) and Spirit of British Columbia (conversion during scheduled refit fall 2017 to spring 2018) that sail between Vancouver and Victoria.


Sept.22. Today Monday, September 22 is the first day back to school of the 2014-2015 academic year across BC, following a 94-day strike by BC Teachers Federation (BCTF) members that began in June.   "No time will be made up," said BCTF president Jim Iker with regard to the 3 weeks of lost instruction time for students.  Provincial exam dates may need to be altered, says BC Education Minister Peter Fassbender.  Each school district might decide on the application of Professional Development Day time toward instruction time. The teachers finally agreed to negotiate after a vote demanding that the government take part in binding arbitration was ignored by the government, and after putting parents, families and businesses through an extensive period of disruption.   Info for all schools in Sooke School District SD62:


Sept.21. Over 70,000 Syrian refugees have fled into Turkey in the space of the last 24 hours, bringing the total number to 100,000. Most of them are ethnic Kurds hoping to escape the advance of 'Islamic State' terrorists aiming to take over large chunks of Syria (they have taken control of 64 villages in northeast Syrian just since September 17) and other middle-eastern areas. [Photo by Associated Press" Turkish guards observe as Syrian refugees gather near border]


Sept 20. Russian bombers came within 75 km of Canada's northern mainland this past week (1:30 am Pacific Time on September 18) into the western reaches of Canada's Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) and had to be turned back by Canadian CF18 fighter jets over the Beaufort Sea. This occurred 12 hours after Prime Minister Harper met with Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko in Ottawa.  Canada announced $3 million in humanitarian aid for Ukraine on September 17, and finalized a deal to disburse $200 million as a low-interest loan to Ukraine to help stabilize the economy of that eastern European country that is trying to avoid falling into the clutches of Russian aggression. Ukraine is seeking aid for setting up sophisticated surveillance systems to monitor their border-areas near Russian, to help keep Moscow at bay; Ukraine cannot see where Russian forces are and therefore need information by satellite. Harper is not unaware of the political influence in Canadian politics of the 1.2 million Canadians of Ukranian descent.  About six hours before the incident involving Canadian jets, American F-22 fighter jets were scrambled from a base in Alaska to meet a group of Russian aircraft, including two refuelling tankers, two MIG-31 fighters and two long-range bombers. According to a CBC news report, NORAD has dispatched fighter jets to make contact with Russian long-range bombers "in excess of 50 times" in the last five years. [Photo sourced online]


Sept.19. Sept. 19th print/PDF weekly edition of Sooke Voice News is now online. The teachers strike is over, but what has surfaced as our main page story this week is that blood supplies are critically low in Canada. Cancellation of donor appointments has seen an upsurge. Our editorial this week is about massive shifts seemingly all at once: Scotland coming 'this close' to independence, teachers having had enough and getting back to work, and a brush with crisis as Russian bombers came within 74 km of the Canadian border this past week. New feature starts this week:  Wonderful & Worrisome (see page 2).


Sept.18. BC public school teachers are heading back to work on Monday, September 22 following a successful 'yes' vote (86% of those who voted said yes; only 66.5% of members voted) by BC Teachers Federation union members to accept the BC Government's 6-year deal as negotiated earlier this week. The deal includes wages increases and monies aimed at higher more teachers for classrooms, said BCTF president Jim Iker this evening on Livestream. Earlier this week Premier Christy Clark was excited at the prospect of what she called 'five years of labour peace' for education in BC. Tonight BCTF president Jim Iker said they didn't get "everything we need for students and our members -- our engagement will continue". Despite that BC Education Minister Peter Fassbender said earlier this week that every student's academic year "would remain whole", BCTF's Iker gave no apology when saying "no time will be made up".  No mention whatsoever was made for making up lost time to students, in a news release issued by Fassbender this evening after the BCTF announcement.


Sept.18. Scotland has voted 55% in favour of staying within the United Kingdom, it was announced tonight. Large voter turnout for the "No" vote (the question was "Should Scotland be an independent country") was tipped heavily in that direction mostly from the two largest cities -- Glasgow and Edinburgh. Scotland has many times in the last 800 years attempted to set itself free from British rule but it appears the 'fear' vote about potential economic instability had Scotland become independent, was the final push by opponents to independence in the final days of the active civic event.


Sept.18. Today is a big day for the power of voting en masse! Scotland is voting on whether to separate from England (over 4.2 million Scots registered to vote), and the BC Teachers Federation members (up to 41,000 of them) are voting on whether to accept a negotiated agreement that will affect education in British Columbia for the next six years. Results from both votes are expected later this evening.


Sept.17. Over 100 firefighters from 21 fire departments around BC (mostly from the south island) will be attending the 2nd annual Juan de Fuca / Justice Institute of BC Firefighter Regional Training Weekend, Sept.18-21. Training activities will take place in Sooke (aerial ladder, hazardous materials, evaluator certification), Otter Point (live fire training levels 1 and 2), East Sooke (fire truck tender operations training) and Metchosin (fireground strategies and tactics, and fire company inspections training). The training event has been organized by Sooke firefighter Cam Norris-Jones who is pleased with the attendance numbers as they continue to exceed estimates. Local sponsors have assisted with donations of food and materials.


Sept.16. Shades of a future campaign moment yet to come: last night (Monday, Sept 15) both Sooke mayoralty candidates -- Maja Tait and Herb Haldane -- were deep in thought during debate at Sooke Council. The local chamber of commerce has yet to announce their plans or a date for hosting an All Candidates Meeting at which Sooke voters may hear the candidates for Mayor and Council for the 2014-2018 District of Sooke Council.  Election news updates are posted here as news warrants.


       TEACHERS STRIKE UPDATE. Sept.16. [2:20 pm] BC Teachers and the BC Government have reached a tentative deal, on which the teachers are likely to vote this Thursday. Premier Christy Clark sounded keen and enthusiastic in a media announcement  from 2:00 to 2:20 pm in Vancouver today, that both sides had cooperated to come to an agreement in which "teachers get a raise", "classroom composition for kids" is improved, and taxpayers are not impacted.  The negotiated agreement now goes to BC Teachers Federation members and school board trustees for ratification.  Results are expected to be known on Thursday, Sept.18.  Premier Clark says schools could be back in action likely by Monday, September 22. BC Education Minister Peter Fassbender said that "every student's educational journey will be kept whole" for the 2014-2015 academic year, and that "details will be announced as we move forward", especially for Grades 11 and 12, he added.  "Thanks to parents for giving us the space (to work through a deal)", said Premier Clark.  The premier was excited to announce that no further debt would be incurred by the province by this agreement.  Premier Clark was keen that a 6-year-deal (if ratified by teachers this week) will allow for a new "stable environment where we can really get the work done", with reference to now five years of opportunities to "chart a future for our kids". 


TEACHERS STRIKE UPDATE. Sept.16. [9:20 am] BC Teachers and the BC Government have reached a tentative deal, on which the teachers are likely to vote this Thursday. That would see 41,000 about BC teachers back to work by next week (possibly Monday), and about half a million BC students back in classrooms. School buildings need to be readied, class lists finalized, and timetables finalized for high school students.  At 2 pm BC Premier Clark and BC Education Fassbender will address the media from the Premier's office in Vancouver. The BCTF will address the media via Livestream at 4:30pm.


Sept.16. Getting down to final wording, last night Sooke Council finalized the wording for two non-binding 'opinion' questions to be included on the ballot(s) in the November 15, 2014 municipal election:   1) "Would you support the District of Sooke working with the community to develop multi-use community centre facilities? YES or NO?"  2) "Should the District of Sooke join other municipalities in renewing and restating its opposition to the expansion of oil tanker traffic through Coastal BC waters? YES or NO". The community centre question has no dollar figure attached, and as such, some Councillors expressed concern that the ballot process for such a weak question was a waste of municipal resources (separate ballot counting box/process is required for the additional question).  


Sept.15. Tonight Monday September 15, District of Sooke Council will reconvene their Sept 8th meeting, starting 7 pm in Council Chambers. Ahead of that at 6 pm will be a Committee of the Whole meeting to discuss giving $12,000 to the horseshoes society to build pitches in John Phillips Memorial Park. Both meetings will be webcast live at .


Sept.15. The District of Sooke has posted their Notice of Nomination and Notice to the Electors of the District of Sooke in the September 12, 2014 edition of Sooke Voice News (see pg.2 & pg.3).   These notices provide all official information regarding nominations being open for Mayor and six (6) Councillor positions (nomination forms can be received between Sept 30 and Oct. 10) and also how to become (or ensure that you already are) an eligible voter (advance registrations will be accepted up to 4:30 pm on Tuesday, Sept 23).   A list of voters will be available for public inspection from Sept.30 until the close of general voting on Saturday, November 15, 2014. Election news updates can be found on the Sooke Voice News election 2014 webpage.


Sept 15. The House of Commons is back in session in Ottawa this morning. [Prime Minister Harper  - Photo by Canadian Press]. Harper came out strong in defence of Canada taking an allied stand against middle east terrorism threats. In Question Period, NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair said that there isn't enough money for "health and other thing" due to the low corporate tax rate. 


Sept 13. BC has proclaimed September 13, 2014 as Recovery Day, to "celebrate addiction recovery and help break down barriers which prevent us from talking about how substance dependence can impact all members of society". |


Sept.12. The Sept 12th edition of Sooke Voice News is now online. To view the entire edition, please subscribe (by email or phone 250-642-7729).


Sept.12. A solar storm that burst off the sun September 8 reached Earth overnight last night. It may affect GPS, power grids, radios, satellites, smart phones and wi-fi connections today through to Saturday morning September 13, says NASA and other science experts.  In 1989, a solar storm knocked out power for the entire province of Quebec for 12 hours on March 13 that year.


Sept.11.  Sooke Community Hall on Shields Road in Sooke town center has been set up as an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to support residents and evacuees from the fire area in 7700-8000 block West Coast Road this afternoon. About 12 households have registered, but most are now just hanging out at local coffee shops until things blow over. About 15 emergency services volunteers were on site at the community hall around 3 pm today, in various functions.


Sept.11. A structure fire in the Kemp Lake area (just beyond the border of Sooke and Otter Point) began around 11am today Thursday September 11 in a shed or garage, then it spread to a large 2-storey log home (with high vaulted ceilings making it the equivalent of 3 storeys) right on the waterfront in 7700-block West Coast Road, says Sooke Fire Chief Steve Sorensen. Due to wind at the seashore, embers from the fire have spread, causing more spot fires to start in the forest on the other side of the highway. Crews may be on the scene for the rest of the day or longer, depending on how many more spot fires start in the dry forest conditions. The Fire Danger Rating today is at HIGH in the District of Sooke. Some homes on Carpenter Road and nearby areas (7700 to 8000 block West Coast Road) have being evacuated by RCMP near areas where spot fires have started in the forest (stranded residents and evacuees can use the Sooke Community Hall as a place to go, where an Emergency Operations Centre has been set up, organized by Sooke Deputy Fire Chief Rick McLeod).   Fire trucks, pumper trucks and command vehicles have come from various jurisdictions including Sooke, Otter Point, Metchosin, East Sooke, Langford, Shirley, Colwood and View Royal. The View Royal crew is now on service to cover the Sooke area while Sooke crews are out at Otter Point for the current incident. BC Hydro vehicles were also travelling to and from the scene.  Water supplies are not as strong out in that rural area as on the Greater Victoria (CRD) water system says Sorensen, so his crew is relying on pumper trucks to bring in water from hydrants located elsewhere; two pumper trucks were seen collecting water from a hydrant on West Coast Road out front of John Muir Elementary School as striking teachers looked on.  Photos above by Sooke Voice News.  Meanwhile, a drone equipped with a camera was also flown overhead by a Langford-area drone enthusiast, to capture images of the fire.  West-bound traffic on West Coast Road is being re-routed down Grant Road West, or turned back toward Sooke.


Sept.10. US President Barack Obama addressed his nation this evening about how the US will eradicate the ISIL terrorist organization. His 1,991-word speech (see full text posted by TIME Magazine), includes his superior oratory in many sections, including this: "Despite all the divisions and discord within our democracy, I see the grit and determination and common goodness of the American people every single day -- and that makes me more confident than ever about our country's future."


Sept.10. About 75% of BCTF members voted today on a question asking if they would suspend their strike if the government were to agree to binding arbitration. Of that three-quarters of the membership, 99.4% said yes, it was announced online tonight by BCTF president Jim Iker (photo from Livestream).  BC Education Minister Peter Fassbender responded with a news release saying that the "results of this vote were widely expected and understandable... we know teachers want schools re-opened... that's a goal we all share". However, the government is standing firm that "the best way to resolve this labour dispute remains at the negotiating table," Fassbender was quoted in a news release issued about 20 minutes after Iker began his presentation on Livestream that at one point was viewed over 8,000 people.


Sept.10. Results of the BC Teachers Federation vote are expected to be announced online via Livestream around 9:30 pm tonight, Sept.10. The BCTF members will have been asked to agree to suspend their strike if the BC government agrees to binding arbitration.


Sept.10. Decreased ferry ridership by 11% (from 2005-2005 to 2013-2014) has caused a $2.3 billion decrease in BC's GDP in the last 10 years, says the BC Union of Municipalities (UBCM). The topic will be debated at the 2014 UBCM convention, being held in Whistler Sept 22-26. "The quantitative impact of this reduced ridership across both coastal and non-coastal communities is significant," says a report that has been issued to UBCM delegates.


   Sept.10. Today Wednesday, September 10, the BC Teachers Federation (BCTF) is conducting a vote among its members, asking if teachers will suspend their strike if the BC Government agrees to binding arbitration in the education labour dispute. The BC Government has already unequivocally said they will not agree to binding arbitration, that a fully negotiated deal needs to be worked out, in order to move BC forward in education. This puts parents in the middle, which is causing undue hardship.  Sooke Voice News editorial Sept 5: Strike pressure on parents -- is this really the way to take care of BC families?  The BC NDP and BC Greens have been collecting signatures in support of the teachers, and the BC Nurses Union is expected to come out in support of teachers later today. The union that represents BC Hydro employees is considering a $100,000 loan to BCTF to help out with the costs of strike action.  Time for some fresh ideas -- if the BC Government is withholding their vision for release at the bargaining table, then it would serve parents and cash-strapped striking teachers for BCTF to get down to business and sort out a deal that works toward stabilizing the education system with some new ideas and directions.  The government is obviously trying to alter the status quo. This dispute is presently stalled in a public relations war between BCTF's President Jim Iker (photo on left), and BC Education Minister Peter Fassbender.  Even if bargaining negotiations were to commence by next week, it could be several more weeks before students are back in the classrooms. 


  Sept.9. So far there are three candidates openly in the running for Mayor of Sooke:  Herb Haldane, Kevin Pearson, and Maja Tait (from left to right in photo lineup).   Nomination papers can be officially filed with the District of Sooke starting September 30. The election is on Saturday, November 15, 2014.  |  Sooke election campaign updates


Sept.9. EDITORIAL. BC public school teachers are in a process of saving-face. That's about as much as they will get out of their membership vote tomorrow (Sept10) if they stick to the question of saying they will suspend their strike go back to classrooms if the government agrees to binding arbitration. BC Education Minister Peter Fassbender has made it unequivocally clear that binding arbitration is simply not going to happen. It's old-school politics to keep pressuring even though the answer has repeatedly been 'no'.  People, groups and societies will do what they must do, go where they feel they must go. The BC Teachers Federation feels they must give their membership the option to stick to their guns, even if those guns are exhausted of effective ammunition.  This drag-on fight between teachers union and provincial government will -- of course -- have to end up in negotiations as there is no other way to resolve the issue with any sense of progress; legislation has been rejected as an option by the government (saying it will only perpetuate the status quo). Unlike other seemingly less important things in life where stubbornness can often sadly win, the bottom line here is a good education for BC children, and respect or desire for that will ultimately override political agendas, and see the two sides eventually deke it out. Given all this, Sooke Voice News predicts that schools won't manage to get back into regular session until at least the end of November. Even once the dispute eventually reaches the bargaining table, this will still take take to sort out. Parents and families are taking the brunt of this dispute. Parents of younger children are coping with school unavailability through child care, camps, and makeshift in-home school arrangements. Parents of youth in high school (particularly Grade 12) are justifiably anxious about the impact of this strike on youth getting into post-secondary institutions without undue complications. 



Sept.9. Last night at Sooke Council, a non-binding referendum question to get public opinion on oil tanker traffic off the BC coast was approved for the Nov.15th Sooke municipal ballot. Several members of the public spoke about the negative impact that an oil spill would have on the environment and therefore also the local economy given that much of the Vancouver Island economy is tourism-based.


Sept.8.  The BC government will not agree to binding arbitration in the education labour dispute. That's not new information, but BC Education Minister Peter Fassbender had to spend 30 minutes repeating it in a news conference at the BC Parliament Building press theatre today. He reiterated his request to the BCTF to suspend the strike so teachers and children can get back into the classrooms, and so that the government (BCPSEA as their negotiators) and BCTF get back to negotiations.  The BCTF will be holding a vote on September 10 to ask members if they will suspend strike action but (as presently worded), only if the government agrees to binding arbitration. Hence, it looks like a continuing stalemate.


Sept.8. BC Teachers will be asked to vote on whether they will suspend their strike if the BC government agrees to binding arbitration, it was announced today at 11 am by BCTF president Jim Iker. The vote of the union's members will be held on Wednesday, September 10, with results to be known around 9pm that evening, Iker said. Even if the government agrees to binding arbitration, for families this means at least another week (or two) without public schools in session.


Sept.8. The BC Teachers Federation says they will be holding a news conference at 11 am this morning. Teachers have been on strike since June 13, and this has kept students out of the public schools at the start of the 2014-2015 academic year. On the weekend, BC Education Minister Peter Fassbender said the government is not interested in binding arbitration, but asks the BCTF to make tough decisions with them at the bargaining table.


Sept.8. The deadline for submissions to the BC Electoral Boundaries Commission is Sun. Nov.16 (11:59 pm), with public input sessions during September-November (on Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast during Nov.3-7).  A report is to be issued in spring 2015.  Changes made to boundaries will be in effect for the next two elections.  Public input as it's received can be viewed as posted at

Sept.7. SVN EDITORIAL:  The BC Teachers Strike has put parents in the middle, pressured from both sides. "Parents are no longer just caught in the middle." "It's become painfully apparent that the current standoff is to pressure parents, so that parents will eventually feel squeezed enough to speak out in protest." "In the case of this education dispute of 2014, government and the teachers union may wish to spare parents the agony of the political trench, and now start leading with fewer games, greater vision, and faster action."  Read the full editorial:   Editorial - Sooke Voice News Sept 5, 2014


Sept.6. Speech made by Randall Garrison, MP at the Sooke Fall Fair today included reference to the federal NDP's Canadian Food Strategy called "Everybody Eats". He says too many kids go to school without breakfast and that too many Canadians have to use food banks that don't always offer the best food or best nutrition.


Sept.6. The 101st Sooke Fall Fair starts today Saturday Sept 6, with an official opening ceremony at 1 pm, and running to 6 pm. Open again Sunday, Sept.7, 10am to 4pm. Last year the big attraction was the attendance at the opening ceremony ofBC Lt Gov Judith Guichon. This  year sees several new activities including BC Fruit Testers (today Sept 6, 1:30 to 2:30 pm) and Daisy the Cow for kids to meet (3:30 to 4:30 pm). The event takes place at Sooke Community Hall. Photo: Sooke Community Hall was being readied all day on September 5, with people coming and going with category entries and doing other preparations. .


Sept.5. The BC Teachers Federation held a Rally for Public Education today at 5 pm Pacific Time.  BC Education Minister Peter Fassbender said at 2 pm today that binding arbitration is not likely (in response to BCTF's statement at 1 pm that BCTF would accept binding arbitration) . "We are not prepared to say to someone else, well you make our decisions for us," said Fassbender.  BC NDP Leader John Horgan and several of his MLAs spoke at this evening's rally around 6 pm.


Sept.5. The September 5th edition of Sooke Voice News marks the beginning of paid subscriptions required to read the full digital version of the print edition. Subscribers may order the digital-only subscription ($28+GST for 18 weeks) or top that up to also receive print colour edition sent weekly by postal mail ($33+GST for 10 weeks, or $33+GST for the greyscale print version). To order your subscription, please email to or phone 250-642-7729. You can pay over the phone at 250-642-7729 using your credit card (Visa, MasterCard or Amex).  For more details about subscriptions please visit  A modified version of the weekly PDF edition will be posted online each week, but some stories and information will not be viewable.  Advertisers need not worry, their ads will be viewable in all versions of the publication.


Sept.5 (as of 8 am); updated 2 pm. Public school teachers are still on strike in BC.  Editorial about the impact of this strike on families, in the Sept 5th edition of Sooke Voice News.  Mid-day, the BC Teachers Federation said they are willing to go into negotiations for binding arbitration, as many of their teachers are now suffering financially due to the strike and want to be back in the classrooms, doing what they love to do, which is teach, said BCTF president Jim Iker.


Sept. 4. (updated 1:30pm):  The lockout on BC teachers has been lifted by  the BC Public Schools Employers' Association (BCPSEA), as announced today by BC Education Minister Peter Fassbender.  This is the government's way of getting teachers back to work and children back in BC public school classrooms. Fassbender says he is "once again asking the BCTF to lift their pickets and suspend all strike activity while we try to negotiate an agreement". Without a lockout, teachers can once again be paid for their time in classrooms.  "If the BCTF agrees, schools could reopen within two days," Fassbender said in a news release at 12:20 pm today. "Let's get students back in school and teachers back in classrooms while the parties work towards mediating an end to this dispute."


Sept.4. Public school teachers are still on strike in BC.


Sept.3. "We're not suspending any strike right now. We locked out," said BCTF president Jim Iker today in a news conference that began around 2:40pm.  "It's about both sides, giving and taking," with reference to the teachers strike and that negotiations are currently not active with the provincial government. Iker admits that some teachers are suffering, without strike pay, "but they know we want a deal for our teachers -- a fair deal for them which includes better supports for our students," he said in a news conference this afternoon.  BCTF wants to be back at the bargaining table, their president said to media today.  BCTF says taking the $5,000 signing bonus off the table is negotiable.  "We will talk about it. We need a government to be willing to talk about what's fair," Iker said.


Sept.3. As of today, kids are not in school, the BC Education Minister was mute at a press conference with Premier Christy Clark, teachers are on picket lines, and parents are burdened and frustrated.  Today Premier Christy Clark addressed media in Vancouver today around 12:40 pm, as a way to keep some momentum with the public regarding the otherwise stalemated BC education dispute. BC Teachers Federation members have been on strike since mid-June, and public school classes did not start up yesterday after Labour Day for the 2014-2015 academic year. Private schools are in regular session.  The Premier said that BC Education Minister Fassbender (who was present but didn't address the media) and she agree that class composition is the key issue. Premier Clark says $375 million is being offered by the provincial government to address class composition needs, specifying that "special needs kids *and* typical kids should get what they need".  Aside from a protest carried out in front of the BC Legislature yesterday (on what would have been the first day of school), parents are overall too strapped with child care responsibilities and getting to work around all that, to be vocally protesting beyond their friends and neighbourhoods.  The BC Government has now taken the debate out to the media. Her press conference of 12:40 pm will now be followed by Jim Iker of the BCTF with a news conference at 2:30 pm (to be live-streamed).   The BC NDP Official Opposition have not yet responded to Premier Clark's statement yet today (as of 1:25 pm), which is understandable given that the content was thin.  The government's position is that 'this is all the teachers union fault' (i.e. as in going on strike), and reiterated their position to have the teachers end or at least suspend their strike so that "kids can get back to the classrooms". Premier Clark says the BC Education system is dysfunctional, and has seen problems over the past 30 years, with strikes "every 3 to 4 years".  [Photo of Premier Clark: from Sept.3, 2014 livestream out of Vancouver]


Sept.3. BC Premier Christy Clark and BC Education Minister Peter Fassbender to address the media today from the premier's Vancouver office, approximately 12:30 pm Pacific Time, regarding the BC teachers strike and education labour dispute. The strike has been ongoing since June, with negotiations going into a lull over the summer. Students were not back in school this week after Labour Day. The impact is starting to produce wear and tear on parents, students, families and employers. 


Sept.3. BC Health Minister Terry Lake has issued an opinion-editorial commending the high calibre of performance of health and emergency professionals in saving lives following a crash on the Coquihalla Highway in the BC Interior last Thursday. Six hospitals in southern BC interior (in Merritt, Kelowna, Kamloops, and New Westminster) were available for support. Two emergency doctors who happened to be on the Coquihalla at the time of the accident in which 56 people were injured when a bus flipped over, were also commended.  "From all accounts, the speed and skill of those who responded and providing ongoing are has certainly saved lives," says Lake. Click here to read the full opinion-editorial from Minister Lake.


Sept.3. Public schools in BC again not in session today, which would have been the second day back to school for the 2014-2015 academic year. By stark contrast, private schools are moving along without interruption.   Privatization of education is dangerous territory, though it's not surprising given the trend by the BC Liberal government since 2002 in this province. Editorial on educational trends and the dangers of privatization: Aug 29, 2014 Sooke Voice News (pg 2).  Given how far apart the sides are (government and teachers union), this labour dispute could continue for quite a while.  Parents are already setting up small 'schools' in their homes, hiring tutors, accessing programs in the community, and looking into home schooling -- all of this paving the road to privatization and a splintering of standards of educational accomplishment.


Sept.2. The school information site at has been at moments not available this morning, likely to do bandwidth load as parents across BC seek more information on this first 'back to school' day when teachers are still on strike.  Parents can apply on that site for $40/day/child under age 13, to help with child care costs that are incurred during the strike; one payment will be issued to parents at the end of the strike.  Registration for this payment requires the student's Personal Education Number (PEN number) which can be found on any previous student report cards, or by contacting the student's school.


Sept.2. Schools in BC will not be open Sept.2 due to the ongoing education dispute between the BC Government and the BC Teachers Federation. In the Sooke School District, check for updates here and at the District's website at (where you'll find links to each of the individual schools as well).  Parents can register to receive $40 per day per student (under age 13) for days that the teachers strike is ongoing by calling 1-877-387-3332 or online at . One cheque will be issued at the end of the strike period. Google posted a 'Back to School' graphic today on their home page; but it doesn't apply in BC!


Sept.1. BC NDP Opposition Leader John Horgan has written an open letter to Premier Christy Clark today about "the prolonged education dispute". Horgan expresses disappointment with the government's failed approach to date, and urges the premier to directly involve herself in the negotiations, in support of the same request made by BC Teachers Federation president Jim Iker this past weekend. The letter asks Premier Clark to "set a new tone that respects teachers and our public education system," says a BC NDP news release today. Read the full letter: Letter about education dispute from Opposition Leader John Horgan to BC Premier Christy Clark


Sept.1. As the first Monday in September, today is Labour Day in Canada. See BC statements on Labour Day (from government and official opposition) on page 4 of the Aug.29th edition of Sooke Voice News.


Aug. 31. Today has been the 17th anniversary of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. She died in a car crash in a tunnel in Paris on August 31, 1997. There yet swirls debate over any possible mal-intent behind the fatal collision. This weekend, the 2006 Oscar-winning movie The Queen (starring Helen Mirren, who won the  Oscar for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role) was broadcast on TV, in which a key part of the plot is how the death of Diana forever changed how the British Monarchy relates to the people of that country. Diana's eldest son Prince William is third in line to the British Throne, after his father Charles, Prince of Wales. William has made a definitive point of living his life (as much as can be possible) like a regular person, not royalty; Diana had hoped to impart to her sons William and Harry a sense of what it's like for their subjects in everyday life.


Aug.31.  Sooke School District 62 Superintendent Jim Cambridge issued this statement this afternoon, Sunday August 31: "Further to the information that was distributed to parents last week, it appears that the talks between the BCTF and BCPSEA have broken down." "School will not be open for students Tuesday September 2.It is unclear when talks will resume and when school will start."  "I realize this is frustrating and disruptive to families, we will endeavour to to keep parents up to date. Please monitor media reports and the district website."


Aug.31. The BC government is seeking input from parents, families and others in the community on a wide range of concerns and issues regarding youth mental health. There is a reading list prepared by the BC Government's Select Standing Committee on Children and Youth at . Submissions can be made at . The deadline for submissions is September 19, 2014.  Article on natural options and alternatives to drugs and counselling (as published Aug 29, 2014, Sooke Voice News)


Aug.31. Schools will not be open Sept.2. The government will not be legislating teachers back to work (saying that just puts things back into the courts), said BC Education Minister Peter Fassbender today in an announcement to media at noon today in Vancouver, adding that the BC Teachers Federation is incorrect in saying the province isn't willing to negotiate. Negotiations are really only possible in any situation when there is some room for compromise. The appointed mediator (Vince Ready) said yesterday that the sides are too far apart, and walked out of negotiations around 5:30 pm. Fassbender added today that the government won't go into a deficit over "unrealistic demands" by the BCTF. Fassbender could not give a timeline on how long this strike could drag on. He called BCTF's demands unacceptable and unrealistic.  BCTF president Jim Iker says he will speak to media at 4 pm today, and that the BCTF bargaining team is ready to meet today and tomorrow to reach a fair deal before Sept.2.  He has asked for a personal meeting with Premier Clark to try and end the BC education dispute.  Fassbender says the BCTF needs to bring realistic demands. He is is constant contact with Premier Clark  and that she has given him the responsibility of dealing with the strike.  "Class composition has much more of a significant impact -- it's more than numbers -- it's about a new look at classrooms for the future (as is being done in other parts of the world)," said Fassbender on CKNW Radio at 12:25 pm today. "We need to move forward to education of the future," said Fassbender.  Sooke Voice News editorial on education (page 2, Aug 29 edition, SVN)


Aug.31.  BC Government has Tweeted out that parents can register to receive $40 per day per student (under age 13) for days that the teachers strike is ongoing. . For families without access to a computer, registration by paper form is available by calling 1-877-387-3332 or 250-387-3332


Aug.31.  BC Education Minister Peter Fassbender will address the media at noon today in Vancouver regarding the provincial government's dispute with the BC Teachers' Federation.


LIKELY NO SCHOOL ON SEPTEMBER 2. Aug.31.  Still no evident progress on resolving the BC Teachers dispute. Yesterday the mediator (Vince Ready) who was a favourable choice for both government and teachers' union, walked out of the negotiations saying the two sides are too far apart to come to a resolution anytime soon. He said that positions on wages, benefits and class composition remains "a long ways apart", as told to reporters outside the building in Richmond, BC where talks were going on yesterday, Aug.30. The BCTF tweeted out yesterday that they have "not walked away from the table" and BC Premier Christy Clark said the government remains committed to a deal that is affordable for taxpayers.   Rotating strikes began in the last week of May, with full strike action starting June 17. Parents will need to find alternate arrangements for child care after the long weekend, when classes would normally have started for the 2014-2015 academic public school year.


Aug.30 (3pm). No update yet on the negotiations of the BC Government and the BC Teachers Union. Parents, students, employers and everyone affected by the strike still await word as to school getting off to a timely start on September 2. Sooke Voice News editorial on education in BC:  (Aug 29th print/PDF edition, page 2).


Aug.29. The Aug.29th print/PDF edition of Sooke Voice News is now online.


Aug.28. This morning at 10 am, School School District 62 issued a letter to parents advising (just in case) the arrangement of alternate child care plans for next week, given the unresolved status of the BC teachers strike. If teachers are not back in the classrooms by Tuesday, September 2, then students hoping to access their schools would be crossing picket lines, and the only personnel in the schools (principals and vice principals) would be unable to provide adequate supervision for students. By this evening, the situation had not changed. See: Aug 28 letter to parents from SD62 Superintendent Jim Cambridge  Check the website for updates as Sept 2 approaches.  Parents are invited to submit letters or comments to Sooke Voice News about the impact of the strike on their children, families and financial situation.


Aug.28. Starting September 5, you will need a paid subscription in order to view the colour PDF of the Sooke Voice News print edition.  This is a realistic business step being taken by Sooke Voice News publisher Brookeline Publishing House Inc. Digging up and presenting news does not happen out of 'nowhere'; the costs of professional journalism, technology and distribution are some of the key factors in now requiring an online subscription fee. The online subscription (receiving a link to the full colour PDF each Friday), is $28+GST for 18 weeks. To receive the colour PDF link *plus* the greyscale print edition by postal mail, the fee is $33+GST for 18 weeks.  To receive the PDF *plus* the colour print edition each week by postal mail, the fee is $33+GST for 10 weeks.   Every subscription (whether digital/enews or print) includes an additional enews message called "In the Know", by email as news warrants.  The free Friday enews headline bulletin (by opt-in email) will continue, but will *not* include a link to the full colour PDF.   "The many hundreds of subscribers and thousands of online readers are very much appreciated," says SVN publisher and editor Mary Brooke. "This financial adjustment to the subscription process will help ensure the continued excellence of Sooke Voice News in the months and years ahead." Sooke Voice News will be closely following the fall 2014 municipal and school board trustee elections, including intensive news coverage and advertisements with information for voters. The fall 2014 print/PDF editions may expand beyond the usual 4-page format, in order to handle the increased news volume.  News by SVN is available to read 24/7 online on this Breaking News (regional) webpage and the Local Breaking News web page, at no cost. The website gets approximately 30,000 page hits per week, with the breaking news webpages and events webpage (as well as each week's current PDF edition) being the hot spots!


Aug.28. A broken sprinkler last night at the Royal BC Museum in Victoria leaves carpets, walls and some computers damaged from the water. The museum will be open today (admission by donation, except IMAX which is at the regular price).  Visitors should enter through the main glass lobby of Belleville Street.  Updates from the Museum on Twitter @RoyalBCMuseum.


Aug.28.  The Earl and Countess of Wessex (Prince Edward and his wife Sophie) will be in BC Sept 12-16 on a working visit. They will be in Victoria Sept 12 & 13 (Countess to visit Children's Health Foundation of Vancouver Island, Our Place Society and UVic on Sept 13), then travel to Vancouver on Sept 14, then to Ditidaht First Nation on Vancouver Island on Sept 15, then do further engagements in Kelowna on Sept.16. Their full itinerary is to be released at a later date.


Aug. 27. Education Minister Peter Fassbender issued the following statement today, Wednesday August 27, after meeting with the BC Teachers Federation (BCTF) and the BC Public Schools Employers' Association (BCPSEA):  "I invited the lead negotiators, Mr. Iker and Mr. Cameron, to meet with me today because we all want to resolve this strike. We want to see students in school next Tuesday.  "To make that happen, both sides need to focus on the issues that can be mediated and settled immediately and set aside some matters that will be dealt with by the courts.  "I proposed three specific steps to reach a settlement and clear the way for students to go back to school on schedule. "First, I asked the parties to set aside the matter of potential grievances stemming from Justice Griffin's decision. "The demand on potential grievances is nearly a quarter of a billion dollars a year. This matter is before the courts and will be addressed through the appeals process. "I'm not asking the BCTF to do anything prejudicial to their court case, but setting this issue aside as the appeals process takes place gives mediation a chance to succeed.  "Second, I urged the parties to get into mediation as soon as possible. "I made it clear that setting aside the grievances is not a precondition for mediation but I stated my belief that doing so would allow negotiations to focus squarely on the key issues at hand: teachers' wages and class size and composition.  "My hope is that it would move the parties into a zone where mediator Vince Ready sees an opportunity to start productive mediation. "We expect Mr. Ready will explore this development but - as it was agreed to by the parties - it remains up to Mr. Ready to decide when to start full mediation.  "As soon as Mr. Ready indicates mediation should commence, we are ready. In fact, we are ready now. "And third, I asked the BCTF and BCPSEA to suspend all strike or  lockout activities for two weeks when Mr. Ready starts mediation.  "Government has no plan to legislate an end to this dispute and we are not asking either the BCTF or BCPSEA to give up their right to strike or lockout. We are just asking them to voluntarily stand down and let classes start while the parties are in mediation. "British Columbia has a world-class public education system and our students consistently rank among the best in the world. That is in large measure due to our great teachers. We need to resolve this dispute and work together to build on our success and prepare our  students for the future."


Aug.27. The Sooke School District 62 board of trustees has issued a letter to Premier Christy Clark today, stressing that "students must be our collective priority". This letter comes as a result of a motion at the SD62 board meeting last night at the school board office, where trustee Bob Phillips made comments about the needs of students coming before any "government economic mandate".   The letter, signed by SD62 Chair Wendy Hobbs, is also addressed to the Minister of Education, the BC School Trustees Association, and the BC Public School Employers' Association. The letter says that the settlement with teachers "must contain a fair wage increase for teachers, new class size and composition language and provisions for flexibility for Boards of Education".  The remainder of the letter points at political motive on the part of the BC government: "The negotiated settlement must be the priority for BC public education, not a Provincial Government's rigidity concerning economic mandates."  All trustees who were present at last night's meeting voted in favour of the motion to send this letter.


Aug.26. ICBC rates may go up 5.2% (or about $36 per year per driver) as of November 1, 2014 if ICBC's request to the BC Utilities Commission is approved. ICBC says the rates need to go up to cover increased claims that have resulted from an increase in distracted driving which results in accidents.  The BC Liberals are allowing rates to skyrocket at ICBC, making life even less affordable for British Columbians, say the BC NDP. “The 5.2% hike proposed today follows years of hikes by Premier Christy Clark’s government,” said New Democrat ICBC critic MLA Mable Elmore (Vancouver-Kensington). “While she has been premier, her government has brought in big rate hikes in three out of four years, increasing rates by a total of 23% – that’s $140 more every year for the average driver.” Because of ICBC’s policy of rate smoothing, drivers can expect a rate hike next year that is within 1.5% of this year’s – that could mean yet another hike of as much as 6.7%. “This hike is just another blow to affordability in this province,” said New Democrat finance spokesperson Carole James, MLA (Victoria Beacon Hill). “While Premier Clark claims that she is not raising taxes, her government is quietly raising hidden taxes that take money directly from the pockets of British Columbians.” This rate hike comes on top of a 28-per-cent Hydro rate hike and further increases to ferry fares and medical service premiums – all within the last year.  “Hikes like this chip away at family budgets and make it even harder to afford the necessities. The BC Liberals are showing once again that they are not listening to British Columbians,” says the BC NDP. 


Aug.26. There will be a public board meeting of the Sooke School District 62 tonight at the SD62 office at 3143 Jacklin Road, at 8 pm. The Sooke School District serves about 8500 students from Sooke, Port Renfrew, Metchosin, Colwood and Langford. As for trustees on the board, they are elected in and represent the taxpayers, families and students in two zones: Milne's Landing Zone (Sooke area west to Port Renfrew) and Belmont Zone (Colwood-Langford area). School board trustees will be running for 4 year terms in the November 2014 elections.


Aug 26. SOOKE VOICE NEWS EDITORIAL: As the teachers strike continues in BC, parents and students are now in 'hurry up and wait' mode. The current BC Government led by the Liberals (along the lines of what Gordon Campbell started in 2002), seems to be wanting to privatize education. The current scenario in BC schools is a weak remembrance of what a vibrant educational environment used to be in the 1960s to 1980s. The only reason the BC Government can claim good performance by BC students (on international performance barometers) is because teachers and parents have held the children above longer for as long as they've been able. But the load is almost now impossibly heavy.  What choice will many parents have but to shift to private schools for their children's education, if the public system continues to falter? And only those who can afford that will do that. And the rest will falls into a deeper abyss than the current education system is now in BC. For many struggling families, the 'choice' will be to accept a sub-standard education for their children. And for the power of thought and education to be held by those who can muscle-management it in a private system, is an affront to the open-society that Canada claims to have. Education is the root of prosperity in a civilized society; making education into a have/have-not commodity is an ugly triumph of the greed and power over the spirit of the learning mind and the helping heart. Since 2002, the BC Liberals have systematically privatized the collection of MSP fees, invited private business into the electrical power generating system, have kept pushing up the user-fees for ferry transit (essential to the lifeblood of Vancouver Island which is predominantly held by NDP seats), have brought in three ICBC driver insurance rate hikes in the last four years (with another pending to add $36/year to driver insurance costs), and are now bleeding the education system to death (which robs every one of us of a better future).  The 'corporate state' of BC is so eager to sell off our precious natural resources including the futures of our children.  BC feeds on consumers and hard-working families, while systematizing 'the working poor' with support systems which rob independence, which further creates a 'have not' class that is tracked and digitized.  Hopefully the Official Opposition and other parties in this province can do their job to protect the people and somehow raise awareness of and then put measures in place to stop this systematic breakdown of what was once a freedom-loving and openly prosperous society in BC. Prosperity is increasingly now in the hands of the few and everyone else is boxed in.   


Aug. 25. Labour Day weekend is coming up (Aug.30-Sept.1) and as such is the last long-weekend of the summer.  BC parks are often busy, as families enjoy another weekend for hiking and camping.    Normally retail shopping for back-to-school is also busy (though parents are in the dark as to whether BC teachers will be back in the classrooms).  BC's Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour Shirley Bond,  in recognition of Labour Day (this year on Sept 1) says:  "Observing Labour Day on the first Monday of September provides us with an opportunity to give thanks for the hard-working British Columbians who built our great province and made it an even greater place to live, work and raise our families." Labour Day is a statutory holiday. Banks, Canada Post and government offices will be closed.


Aug. 24. The Tour de Rock riders did a 143 km training ride today Sunday August 24, from Saanich to Jordan River, return.  The riders (mostly RCMP but also 3 media and 1 teacher) left the Saanich Police Station at about 7:10 am, cycling along the Galloping Goose Trail until accessing Wale Road in Colwood.  After turning onto Sooke Road they remained on the highway until it turned into West Coat Road. They took a slightly different route home. The team was greeted, cheered and waved-on by people all along the route. [Photo by Gerard LeBlanc]


Aug. 23. BACK TO SCHOOL??? No one knows yet if BC Teachers will be back on the job for the start of school in September.  The BC Teachers Federation strike that began with rotating strikes in late May and the stalemate in negotiations with the BC government since June 30 has been hard on everyone: students, parents, families, teachers and government. How this one gets resolved successfully is anyone's guess at this point. Where is the leadership? Who makes the first concession? Parents in particular want to know.


Aug.22.  The Aug.22 print/PDF edition of Sooke Voice News is now online.  Front page news about the referendum question regarding funding for constructing a community centre. Council's decision to send a letter to the Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure regarding the agonies (there are no ecstasies) of road closures on Hwy14.  The Sooke Family Resource Society has received $52,000 from the BC Government to operate their child/family support services.  Only one mailbox now in front of the main Canada Post office on West Coast Road; all outgoing mail heads to Vancouver, so there's no longer any point in sorting 'local' from 'beyond'.  HitchBOT made it to Victoria this week!


Aug. 22. There was a good turnout at last night's Sooke Fire Hall tour at the main fire hall on Otter Point Road. Over 100 people mingled. Potential volunteers, families, and various folks from the community came to hang out at the fire hall from 6 to 8pm. The public viewed the trucks inside and out, chatted with firefighters, and had some snacks. Councillor Maja Tait (presently as Acting Mayor) was in attendance, and she did discuss her plans to run for Mayor in the upcoming municipal election in Novembers. About 30 firefighters were on scene, to explain about firefighting and they also served great hot dogs and supervised the bounce house for the kids.  Level 1 firefighter training for new volunteers begins in October, but applications are being accepted now at the Sooke Fire Hall, 2225 Otter Point Road or contact Sooke Fire Chief Steve Sorensen for more information Sooke now pays an honorarium of $1,000 per year to active volunteer firefighters.


BACK TO SCHOOL??? Aug.21. Still no word for parents as the BC Teachers Strike continues. Negotiations for a contract settlement between the BC Government and the BC Teachers Federation failed at June 30, 2014 which has given everyone 'a summer off' but the patience and support of parents is likely wearing thin in many families and communities.


Aug.20.  Twelve community organizations in BC have been selected to host new BC Early Years Centres that will help support families with children ages newborn to 6 years. The centres are expected to open this fall in these communities: Comox Valley, Delta, Golden, Langley, Mission, 100 Mile House, Penticton, Revelstoke, Saanich Peninsula, Sooke, Sunshine Coast and Vanderhoof.  Each centre will receive $52,000 this fiscal year, from the Provincial Office for the Early Years, as part of a $5.5 million investment over three years.  |  BC Early Years Strategy


Aug.19. Sooke Council will be seeking voter participation on a referendum question in November, to authorize borrowing of up to $1.5 million. The final wording of the question was approved by Council tonight, August 19, during a short "Special Meeting" that lasted 12 minutes. The wording of the referendum question (still to be approved by the BC Government) is as follows:  "Are you in favour of the Council of the District of Sooke adopting Bylaw No. 603, Community Centre Facilities Loan Authorization Bylaw, 2014, which authorizes the District of Sooke to construct multi-use community centre facilities for the benefit of the community with the cost to the District of Sooke, including principal and interest on borrowing up to $1,500,000." (The wording about renovation from the previous question did not appear in the new question.) The meeting was chaired by Acting Mayor Maja Tait in the absence of Mayor Wendal Milne. Front page article in Sooke Voice News Aug 22nd edition .

 Aug. 19. Tonight District of Sooke Council approved a motion to send a letter to the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure regarding the impact on Sooke residents when there is an emergency that blocks use of Highway 14, and suggesting that improvements be made to the highway. Councillor Kevin Pearson strongly suggested that emergency personnel and staff explore ways to "help people get home" from the highway during a long emergency like that, suggesting that a shuttle bus arrangement with BC Transit might be arranged ahead of time for implementation during emergencies. A motion was passed to that effect. See front page story about the July 31 house fire that ultimately sparked this motion, in the August 1st edition of Sooke Voice News. [Photo by Sooke Voice News: traffic backup that lasted over 5.5 hours on Highway 14 / Sooke Road, on July 31, 2014, while fire-rescue personnel handled a roadside house blaze that could have become a more serious forest fire.]


Aug.18.  Sooke Council will be seeking voter participation on a referendum question in November, to authorize borrowing of up to $1.5 million. The final wording of the question comes to a special Council meeting (called today) to be held tomorrow Tuesday, August 19, in Council Chambers at 6:30 pm.  There is one other item on tomorrow night's agenda, a report on a Letter to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. You can watch the meeting live online at The meeting will be chaired by Acting Mayor Maja Tait in the absence of Mayor Wendal Milne.


Aug. 17. Today is Shirley Day for the community at Shirley, BC west of Sooke, at Pioneer Park off Sheringham Point Road. From 11 am t o 6 pm the community and visitors will gather for artists' display, information booths, and kids activities. A salmon BBQ will be held 4 to 6 pm. The annual event is organized by the Shirley Community Association. The Shirley area has many rural and oceanfront homes.


Aug.16. This morning in Ottawa, the wife and family of Liberal leader Justin Trudeau were asleep in their home when there was a break-in. Nothing was taken except possibly their long-term sense of safety ... a threatening note was left in the house. Trudeau was in Winnipeg at the time.  There is government-paid security for the Prime Minister (Stephen Harper, Conservative) and also the Leader of the Opposition (Thomas Mulcair, NDP) but none so far for the Liberal-leader.


Aug.16. The intriguing historically-based one-woman stage performance of Cougar Annie by Katrina Kadoski had a sell-out audience of over 80 people tonight at Sooke Harbour House. Many of the folks had already seen the show once before; it's a fluid presentation that grows as Kadoski learns more about her muse California-born Ada Annie Jordan (1888-1895) who homesteaded near Tofino from 1915 to 1985.  Annie Jordan apparently became pretty darn good at killing cougars (70 or more) as a way to supplement her gardening income by selling furs.  The full house audience for the 8pm performance was a motivation for Sooke Harbour House co-owner Frederique Philip who says she may open up the big tent on the hill for more live theatre in the future.


Aug. 15. The August 15th PDF print edition of Sooke Voice News is now online.  Front page story: Failed transformer puts mall in the dark. Art in the Park this weekend, Aug 16 & 17.  Getting registered to vote in the municipal election.  Society Act review - public input invited. 21 new hospice beds on Vancouver Island in 2014-2019.  Yoga studio moving to new Hope Centre. Life of a pioneer woman put to music -- the Cougar Annie show!  Fire Danger rating back down to Moderate. Crowd-source funding helps small businesses in post-recession economy that is dominated by large corporations. 'Call for heroes' now on fire truck. Level 1 Training starts for new volunteer firefighters in October.  BC Fruit Testers coming to Sooke Fall Fair.


Aug. 15. There are just two days left (deadline is in the wee hours of Sunday, August 17) to pledge your support to the need for more insightful journalism on Vancouver Island, using a crowd-source funding portal on Kickstarter While pledges are being considered a new way to buy ads (for businesses and organizations), what's also important is helping to keep journalism alive.  As one local business owner said this week on Twitter: "In a time of dwindling real news reporting people might support a campaign for a regional news voice" (Tweeted by @thesticksooke on August 13). The publisher/editor of Vancouver Island Voice tweeted out today @VancIsVOICENews: "What is #journalism? Figuring out what to ask, who to ask, and not being afraid to ask -- then publishing with care."  The pledging portal is available for anyone to use (make a pledge, get ads) to August 17 at . Pledges are made by credit card but do not process unless the total project goal of $2,500 is met.   Some businesses have been confused, thinking this is a charity. Nope... all the projects posted on Kickstarter from around the world are small to mid-size businesses looking for a leg up in an economy that is dominated by large corporations. All of the projects on Kickstarter are creative (one of the ground-rules of using Kickstarter) and most of them include an element of positive change for communities and society.


Aug. 14. The 101st Sooke Fall Fair at Sooke Community Hall is upholding a theme of  "Celebrating Family Farms" during their event Saturday September 6 from 1 to 6 pm, and Sunday September 7 from 10 am to 4 pm. Of particular interest to local homeowners and farmers, there will be BC Fruit Testers available at the fair on Sat Sept 6 from 1:30 to 2:30 pm who can identify fruit that you bring from your yard or farm.


Aug.14. The 12th annual outdoor arts festival called Art in the Park will showcase local art, craft and performing arts at Ed Macgregor Park in Sooke this weekend, August 16 & 17 (10-5 each day).   The live entertainment on Saturday is primarily music and theatre, with Sunday's live action leaning more toward dance and demonstrations such as karate and Tai Chi.  The event is organized by the Sooke Community Arts Council with recognized sponsorship from the District of Sooke and the BC Arts Council.


Aug 14. The BC Government has this afternoon released a statement through the Ministry of Environment saying that their water samples of August 10, 2014 from Quesnel Lake near the mouth of Hazeltine Creek (near the Mount Polley Mine tailings pond breach location) have been tested and confirm that samples continue to meet provincial and federal drinking water guidelines.  They add that results "also fall below all BC Aquatic Life Guidelines, meaning there is no expected impact on aquatic life." Government website where info on Mount Polley Mine incident is updated regularly:


Aug.13 [updated 3:45 pm]. Rain began in Sooke around 3:30am today, and has continued off and on all day, under grey skies. While this ends a 20-day stretch without appreciable rainfall (with most of that period seeing a Fire Danger Rating of EXTREME in the District of Sooke), the local drought of summer 2012 was considerably longer at 80 days.  Sooke Fire Rescue Chief Steve Sorensen lowered the fire danger rating around 1:45 pm today (lowering it from Extreme to Moderate) after he reviewed the fire management weather updates. However,  the forest floor is still very dry and that "with a drying trend in the forecast" the Fire Danger Level will be back to to EXTREME by Saturday or Sunday," Sorensen said this afternoon.  The campfire ban is still in effect either way.


Aug. 13.  The Mount Polley Mine tailings pond breach is one of the worst environmental disasters in BC history. At this point experts say it is unclear just how far-reaching the damage is and just how much it will cost to clean up the damage in the water and surrounding terrain. The BC government issued their latest daily tailings pond breach at 2 pm August 12:   Water samples taken by BC Ministry of Environment staff from the southeast corner of Polley Lake on Aug 7 & 8 are being called "very close to historical levels (as taken prior to the Aug 4 tailings pond breach).  Results indicate the concentrations of most of the parameters were below both BC and Health Canada Drinking Water Guidelines, with slight exceedances of pH and aluminum. These results are similar to test results taken from the shore of Polley Lake by mine-owner Imperial Metals.  As a result of the latest testing, the regional health authority Interior Health has further rescinded its water use ban However, a water ban will remain indefinitely for the impact zone directly affected by the breach which includes Polley Lake, Hazeltine Creek, and Quesnel Lake, but only the area within 100 metres of the shoreline plume where Hazeltine Creek runs into Quesnel Lake.  Additionally, water samples taken August 7 from three locations in Quesnel Lake and along Quesnel River have been tested with "most of the parameters below" both BC and federal drinking water guidelines.  The exception sample was taken from a localized area with a visible suspended sediment plume between Hazeltine Creek and Raft Creek -- tested as a worst case scenario. Results showed slight exceedances of copper, chromium, phosphorus and aluminum for aquatic life guidelines. "These levels would be expected near an aluminum/copper mine," says the August 12, 2014 news release from BC Ministry of the Environment.  "The tailings liquid initially released moved very quickly through the system and was diluted greatly by the water in the lake, the Quesnel River and ultimately the Fraser River. As such, fish exposure was limited and not long enough for uptake into tissues." The only reported dead fish is a rainbow trout, as brought to the Environment Ministry's attention on August 6.  As for salmon, "If any dead salmon are found in the Fraser River it is likely a result of temperature effects and not contamination from the tailings pond breach. This is not unexpected due to the summer climate in the region."  Government website about the Mount Polley Mine Tailings Pond Breach at Likely, BC on August 4, 2014



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