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Category "BBG"

13Feb

B.C. speaker wins injunction preventing protesters from blocking access to legislature

by admin

VICTORIA —
The Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of B.C. has won a sweeping injunction preventing anyone from blocking doorways or driveways at the B.C. legislature ahead of planned protests Friday.

The injunction, which was granted at B.C. Supreme Court on Thursday, restricts activists from obstructing, intimidating or interfering with legislative staff, security or government workers on the legislature grounds.

The order authorizes police and special constables to arrest anyone contravening the order, including by blocking roadways or obstructing the view of CCTV cameras on the grounds.

Christohper Considine, the lawyer for the speaker who argued for the injunction, tells CTV News that demonstrators will still be allowed on the legislature grounds.

Anyone detained for breaching the injunction would be released if they agree not to contravene the order again, at the discretion of the arresting officer, Considine said.

The injunction comes as hundreds of protesters opposed to the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline in northern B.C. are preparing to blockade dozens of government offices in Victoria Friday morning.

The planned demonstrations would follow actions that saw hundreds of protesters gather at the B.C. legislature Tuesday, blocking entrances to the building as MLAs and staff returned for the start of the legislative session.

Read the full text of the injunction below:

8Feb

Ins and outs of travel insurance amid novel coronavirus outbreak

by admin

VANCOUVER —
Travellers nervous about globe-trotting during the novel coronavirus outbreak may be eligible to receive a refund for cancelling their travels, say insurance experts, but it depends on the destination, their insurance policy and other factors.

“I think in any case of sort of an epidemic like this, it’s really an evolving situation and every day is different, something new happens,” said Joan Weir, director of health and disability policy for the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association. CLHIA represents 99 per cent of the country’s life and health insurance companies, according to its website.

Travel insurers watch the unfolding situation very carefully, she said, and the association is frequently checking in with all its members about what they’re experiencing.

There are now more than 31,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, China, according to the World Health Organization.

The bulk of these are in China, where there have also been 637 deaths. Across 24 other countries, there are 270 confirmed cases and one death. There are five confirmed cases in Canada.

The WHO declared the outbreak a global health emergency in late January.

The Canadian government issued a Level 3 advisory for China, asking Canadians to avoid non-essential travel. There is only one higher level, which advises travellers to avoid all travel.

The government recommends people avoid travelling to Hubei Province, where Wuhan city is located. The province has recorded 22,112 of China’s 31,211 coronavirus cases, according to the WHO.

As soon as the Canadian government declares a Level 3 or 4 travel advisory, a person may cancel their upcoming trip and their insurance should cover any lost expenses, said Weir.

“You’d have to submit receipts,” she said, but travellers should receive refunds for flights, hotels and other costs.

Trips booked before the government issues these advisories are often covered by travel insurance, said an emailed statement from the insurance company RSA Canada.

“Trips booked after this point are not eligible for medical coverage or trip cancellation/interruption coverage.”

Allianz Global Assistance Canada, which declined to comment due to “how quickly the current coronavirus is evolving and the changing advisories” from Canada’s government and others, posted a notice on its website to customers about the outbreak indicating booking timing mattered for coverage eligibility.

People travelling to China whose trip cancellation benefits kick in if the government issues a Level 3 advisory would be eligible to submit a claim if they purchased insurance before Jan. 29, when the government issued its advisory, according to the statement.

For those who do qualify, it doesn’t matter whether their trip is next week or in six months, said Weir.

However, the destination matters. While 24 countries have confirmed coronavirus cases, Canada’s travel advisory applies only to China. That means a person who feels uncomfortable travelling to any of the other countries won’t be able to get a refund for cancelling their trip, she said.

That is, unless they purchased what’s known as cancel-for-any-reason insurance, she said, which does exactly what the name implies.

Those who haven’t purchased any travel insurance may still be able to secure a refund, Weir noted, as many major credit cards offer some kind of coverage.

“But it depends on which credit card you have and what the benefits are,” she said. “So it’s good to know what your credit card covers for trip cancellation, for trip health, all that.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 7, 2020.

7Feb

First province-wide ride-hailing licence goes to Richmond startup

by admin

RICHMOND —
The Passenger Transportation Board’s latest round of application decisions included the approval of the first province-wide ride-hailing licence to a Richmond start-up that had once been in hot water.

Kabu is the first company to apply for ride-hail licences in every region of the province, and received permission to operate in every one of them, giving all British Columbians the prospect of access to the popular services.

“This morning, when we received the news from the PTB, there were a lot of tears that were shed,” said Kabu spokesperson Martin Van Den Hemel. “We have hundreds of drivers that are ready to join our company and when we’re ready to launch we believe we’re able to provide excellent service here in Richmond, Vancouver and the Vancouver area.”

Van Den Hemel believes the company can sort out insurance and other logistical requirements in the next couple of weeks before activating the app for service in the Lower Mainland.

The Richmond-based company admits it had been running up to 3,000 rides a day from 2016 to 2019 under GoKabu through social media platform WeChat, activity that got the company in trouble with the Ministry of Transportation. The City of Richmond opposed the company’s application to the PTB, saying GoKabu had “continuously and flagrantly facilitated unlawful ride hailing,” but in its decision the board says co-founders Austin Zhang and Billy Xiong were young and inexperienced, but admitted their mistakes and paid fines. The decision says since Kabu is a separate legal entity, they would not assess the application based on past conduct – adding that “a past violation does not in and of itself operate as a barrier to granting Kabu’s application.”

And, while the PTB isn’t enthusiastic about Kabu’s prior operations, the board acknowledged the company’s argument that the BC Liberal government of the day had promised to green-light ride-hailing in the province soon.

With the company’s plan to offer multilingual service through diverse drivers, the PTB also found that “Kabu has identified an under-served and growing market niche which focuses on the increasing number of immigrants, tourists, and international students coming to Canada.”

With a shortage of drivers eligible to work for ride-hailing companies due to the province’s Class 4 licence requirement, Kabu acknowledges it’s competing against big companies like Uber and Lyft to attract enough drivers to roll out service in Victoria, Kelowna, and the rest of the province.

“What we’ve committed to doing is providing subsidized health, dental, disability and illness coverage to them as well as free life insurance,” said Van Den Hemel, with a promise of at least $25 per hour in earnings.

“We’re [also] partnering with other Canadian companies to drive down the price of inspecting vehicles, operation and maintenance of vehicles as well as other cost-drivers for these drivers like their cell phone plans and their cellular phones themselves.”

7Feb

First province-wide ride-hailing licence goes to Richmond start-up

by admin

RICHMOND —
The Passenger Transportation Board’s latest round of application decisions included the approval of the first province-wide ride-hailing licence to a Richmond start-up that had once been in hot water.

Kabu is the first company to apply for ride-hail licences in every region of the province, and received permission to operate in every one of them, giving all British Columbians the prospect of access to the popular services.

“This morning, when we received the news from the PTB, there were a lot of tears that were shed,” said Kabu spokesperson Martin Van Den Hemel. “We have hundreds of drivers that are ready to join our company and when we’re ready to launch we believe we’re able to provide excellent service here in Richmond, Vancouver and the Vancouver area.”

Van Den Hemel believes the company can sort out insurance and other logistical requirements in the next couple of weeks before activating the app for service in the Lower Mainland.

The Richmond-based company admits it had been running up to 3,000 rides a day from 2016 to 2019 under GoKabu through social media platform WeChat, activity that got the company in trouble with the Ministry of Transportation. The City of Richmond opposed the company’s application to the PTB, saying GoKabu had “continuously and flagrantly facilitated unlawful ride hailing,” but in its decision the board says co-founders Austin Zhang and Billy Xiong were young and inexperienced, but admitted their mistakes and paid fines. The decision says since Kabu is a separate legal entity, they would not assess the application based on past conduct – adding that “a past violation does not in and of itself operate as a barrier to granting Kabu’s application.”

And, while the PTB isn’t enthusiastic about Kabu’s prior operations, the board acknowledged the company’s argument that the BC Liberal government of the day had promised to green-light ride-hailing in the province soon.

With the company’s plan to offer multilingual service through diverse drivers, the PTB also found that “Kabu has identified an under-served and growing market niche which focuses on the increasing number of immigrants, tourists, and international students coming to Canada.”

With a shortage of drivers eligible to work for ride-hailing companies due to the province’s Class 4 licence requirement, Kabu acknowledges it’s competing against big companies like Uber and Lyft to attract enough drivers to roll out service in Victoria, Kelowna, and the rest of the province.

“What we’ve committed to doing is providing subsidized health, dental, disability and illness coverage to them as well as free life insurance,” said Van Den Hemel, with a promise of at least $25 per hour in earnings.

“We’re [also] partnering with other Canadian companies to drive down the price of inspecting vehicles, operation and maintenance of vehicles as well as other cost-drivers for these drivers like their cell phone plans and their cellular phones themselves.”

1Feb

Hockey heroes celebrate Canadian first in Surrey, B.C.

by admin

SURREY —
Ryan Straschnitzki is used to handling a puck, but he’s now learning to do it from a different perspective: in a sled.

“It’s definitely a different sport,” Straschnitzki said at a celebrity sledge hockey game in North Surrey Saturday.

It’s been nearly two years since the deadly Humboldt Broncosbus crash, the hockey community’s worst-ever accident, in which Straschnitzki was paralyzed from the chest down.

In December, the 20-year-old had spinal surgery in Thailand in an attempt to stimulate his nerves and allow him to move his limbs.

He now has his sights on playing for Team Canada in sledge hockey.

“I carry some aspects over from stand-up, you know, I’m still learning the ropes only being a year in,” he said. “I just made the provincial team last October, so that’s a good start.”

Straschnitzki was in Surrey on Saturday for a celebrity sledge hockey game at the North Surrey Sports Complex. The new arena is now the first ice rink in the country to be awarded a gold standard for accessibility by the Rick Hansen Foundation. It’s fitted with features to help people with disabilities, including removable benches in the player and penalty boxes, as well as transparent boards so players can stay in their sleds and still watch the game.

“When all people regardless of physical ability can access the places where we live, work, learn and play, we create communities where everyone can contribute,” said Uli Egger with the Rick Hansen Foundation.

The game was also part of “Wickfest”, the World Female Hockey Festival founded in 2010 by six-time Olympian Hayley Wickenheiser.

“It was awesome today we had the hacks like myself and the others, and then the real pros that really showed the skill,” Wickenheiser said.

The festival aims to get the next generation of female athletes into hockey, people like 11-year-old Kate Altwaseer, who said Wickenheiser, “inspired me to play hockey.”

And 10-year-old Sophie Passeri who told CTV News, “I want to be in the NHL.”

That’s something Wickenheiser wants to see.

“Someday, there’ll be professional women’s hockey for these girls to play in and that makes me very happy,” she said. 

30Jan

B.C. launches talks with taxi industry about fees to aid disability services

by admin

VICTORIA —
Taxi drivers in B.C. will soon be able to purchase the same kind of insurance available to the ride-hailing industry, the transportation minister said Thursday.

Claire Trevena said talks are also underway with the taxi industry to ensure sustained and improved services for passengers with disabilities.

The province has been working for several months with the Insurance Corp. of B.C. and the taxi industry to provide insurance based on the per-kilometre distance travelled with passengers in their vehicles, which is equivalent to what is offered to ride-hailing vehicles, she said in a statement.

“In the near future, taxi drivers who want this new product will be able to switch their insurance, with coverage beginning in the spring. Drivers who wish to keep their current form of coverage will not be affected.”

Trevena said talks are underway as well with the taxi industry to ensure sustained and improved services for passengers with disabilities. Those discussions involve providing the taxi industry with a portion of the 30-cent trip fee that ride-hailing companies must contribute toward a passenger accessibility fund because their licences don’t require them to provide vehicles for disabled passengers.

The minister’s announcement follows petitions filed in British Columbia Supreme Court by the Vancouver Taxi Association alleging unfairness over the licence approvals for ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft.

Meanwhile, Uber has filed an injunction application in the Supreme Court after Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum said city bylaw officers will ticket the company’s drivers operating there.

The taxi association documents, which ask the court to quash the licence approvals for Uber and Lyft, say the rules that require taxi firms to provide costly wheelchair accessible vehicles do not apply to the ride-hailing companies. A hearing is set for Tuesday in Vancouver.

In an interview Tuesday, Trevena said it was “unfortunate” passengers with mobility issues could face service issues connected to disputes over the introduction of ride-hailing in B.C.

“We want people with mobility challenges and accessibility challenges to have as many options for transportation as possible,” she said.

Taxi association lawyer Peter Gall said the companies will argue in court that Uber and Lyft have unfair advantages over the taxi industry. The advantages include no restrictions on vehicle numbers or charge rates and no requirements to provide wheelchair accessible taxis, he said.

“If we’re going to do something which costs more, they should either have to provide the same service, which they can’t, or they should be contributing to the cost of the service,” he said.

Gall said taxi drivers will continue to pick up passengers with disabilities.

Trevena defended the government’s approach to ride-hailing after a contentious first week in Metro Vancouver.

“While efforts continue to ensure safety and fairness, I am proud that our government refused to back down against pressures to abandon our regulatory measures on ride hailing,” she said in the statement. “As a result, British Columbia now has the highest safety standards in North America.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 30, 2020.

29Jan

B.C. caregiver charged with criminal negligence in woman’s death

by admin

VANCOUVER —
A Metro Vancouver caregiver has been charged following an investigation into the death of a woman with a developmental disability.

The Port Coquitlam resident is charged with criminal negligence causing death and failure to perform a legal duty to provide necessaries.

The organization she worked for under contract, Kinsight Community Society, has been charged with failure to perform a legal duty to provide necessaries.

This is a developing news story and will be updated immediately.

29Jan

Caregiver failed to provide ‘necessaries of life’ to B.C. woman with developmental disability: RCMP

by admin

VANCOUVER —
A Metro Vancouver caregiver has been charged following an investigation into the death of a woman with a developmental disability.

The woman was found dead in a private home on Oct. 13, 2018, Mounties in Coquitlam said Wednesday.

She was 54.

Few details have been provided by police, but officers said a 15-month investigation showed she “did not receive the ‘necessaries of life'” – meaning things necessary for survival, such as food, shelter, medical attention and protection from harm.

Earlier this week, charges were approved against a Port Coquitlam caregiver.

Astrid Charlotte Dahl, 51, is charged with criminal negligence causing death. She and the Kinsight Community Society, an organization with which Dahl was in a residential home sharing agreement, have each been charged with failure to perform a legal duty to provide necessaries.

Dahl and the society’s director have received a summons to appear in court in March.

“This is a very sad situation,” Cpl. Michael McLaughlin said in a statement.

“We know these charges can’t bring the victim back, but perhaps they give a voice to a vulnerable person who couldn’t speak for herself.”

This is a developing news story and will be updated throughout the day.

27Jan

86-year-old woman reported missing in Burnaby has been found: RCMP

by admin

VANCOUVER —
Update: Mounties say the 86-year-old woman reported missing in Burnaby on Jan. 27, 2020 has been found. 

“Burnaby RCMP is pleased to advise that the 86-year-old female who was the subject of a missing person’s appeal yesterday has been located and is safe and sound,” Mounties said in a news release. 

Original story follows

Burnaby RCMP are asking for the public’s help to locate a missing 86-year-old woman who suffers from a cognitive disability.

Su Wan Chow was last seen near 16th Avenue and Cumberland Street in Burnaby on Monday around 2:40 p.m. Mounties say she’s unfamiliar with the Burnaby area and only speaks Taiwanese and Japanese.

She’s 4’9″ with a slim build. She has short, grey hair and brown eyes and usually walks with a metallic, floral patterned cane. She was last seen wearing a dark blue leather coat, red pants, brown shoes and carrying a brown travel bag.

Police say her family is concerned about her welfare, and police are asking anyone who may have seen her or know where she is to contact them at 604-646-9999. Those who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or text BCTIP to 274637.

27Jan

‘No more warning tickets’: Surrey’s mayor threatens Uber with fines, crackdown

by admin

VANCOUVER —
Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum dug in against ride hailing services operating in his city on Monday, saying there would be no more “grace periods,” and confirmed 18 warnings had been issued over the weekend to Uber drivers who operated in the city without a business licence.

“I support ride hailing,” McCallum said at a news conference, in what appeared to be a switch from his long-established position. But he reiterated, “it has to be on a level playing field with the taxi industry.”

McCallum said Uber drivers who continue to pick up in Surrey could expect to start receiving $500 fines from bylaw officers, suggesting that like other businesses that operate illegally, they could be “shut down.” He did not elaborate.

Over the weekend, Surrey bylaw officers handed out warning tickets to drivers like Carlos Medina, who thought he was picking up a passenger Sunday afternoon outside the Safeway supermarket near Surrey City Hall.

Medina said a woman outside the store asked if he was an Uber driver, and he answered yes. Then two Surrey bylaw officers approached him and wrote him a ticket for operating without a business licence.

Medina, who quit his job to become a full time Uber driver, told CTV News he felt like he’d been lured and harassed.

“They’re using the app just to call someone over and corner them,” he said.

While he admitted he was concerned by the encounter, Medina insisted he had done nothing wrong and said he would keep picking up passengers in Surrey because he believed he was protected by both provincial laws and his company.

In a statement, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure told CTV News in part that while “Municipalities have the ability to set requirements for business licences for ride hail operators…our legislation is clear: no municipality has the authority to block the operation of ride hailing services.”

The ministry did not clarify if it was taking any steps in response to Surrey issuing warning tickets and the threat of further fines.

“It is highly unfortunate that the mayor is threatening drivers with fines that have no legal basis,” Uber said in a statement released on Monday evening. “The Uber app will continue to be available to the residents and visitors of Surrey within our service area, and we will be preparing legal action to defend the right to access Uber’s apps.”

McCallum said the city had no plans to take legal action against Uber and said the enforcement was being taken with the well-being of Surrey citizens, including the taxi industry, in mind.

Chief among his concerns is the lack of a cap on ride hailing vehicles, a decision made by the independent Passenger Transportation Board for all ride hailing services.

The mayor also pointed to other cities in Metro Vancouver that have issued business licences as a justification that Uber should not operate in his city without something comparable.

“But with respect, Mr. Mayor, other cities are not ticketing and threatening to run Uber out of town, and you are,” CTV News’ David Molko said to McCallum.

“No, we’re not,” McCallum responded.

Surrey’s mayor also indicated that he was open to a “regional” business licence solution that spans municipalities. The TransLink Mayors Council is currently reviewing a report that suggests one could be put into practice as soon as late March or early April.

It is unclear if such a licence would address McCallum’s concerns which include, beyond a cap on ride hailing vehicles, accessibility, vehicle age, and insurance, among others, he said.

It is also unclear if Surrey might impose its own business licence, in addition.

Back at the supermarket parking lot across from city hall, Carlos Medina activated his Uber app. Within a minute, four different calls for pickups came from four different Surrey neighbourhoods.

“Listen to (the people of Surrey),” Medina said when asked about his message for McCallum. “They want this service. It’s not just up to you.”

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