Category "Local News"


Parents and educators ask how B.C.’s learning groups will manage education assistants

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“My son, or any other student with a disability, or ‘diversability,’ should be able to attend in-person school, full-time, regardless of the size of their school. At least, this is how it reads to me,” said Watson.

The provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, acknowledged the importance of in-classroom learning at Thursday’s daily COVID-19 update.

“There are many different needs over and above the educational needs of children where in-classroom settings are incredibly important,” she said.

“It’s really one of the next big conversations,” said Darren Danyluk, president of the B.C. Principals’ and Vice-Principals’ Association.

It will be complex in some cases, he said, to find to balance between learning groups capped in size to allow for easy contact tracing and the need to avoid a return students with special needs being pulled out of classrooms for support instead of receiving it from assistants alongside their peers.

“Then you have that isolation,” said Danyluk. “My colleagues in leadership positions and teachers feel there have been significant gains with inclusion and want to preserve that as much as possible.”

Warren Williams, president of the K-12 President’s Council of CUPE Local 15, which represents education assistants, said “we are advocating for more EA support in classrooms. We don’t have a sense of how many more, but can see there will be a need as there is a rolling out of these cohorts.”


Discount Flair Airlines launching flights from Victoria to Vancouver

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Flair Airlines is returning to Victoria.

The discount airline announced Thursday it will offer flights to Vancouver starting Aug. 23.

There are options for connections to several other Canadian airports, including the resource centres of Prince George and Fort McMurray, as well as Saskatoon and Regina — all new destinations also announced on Thursday.

The Edmonton-based airline, which is using four Boeing 737-800 jets, also flies to Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary and Kelowna.

Jim Scott, chief executive of Flair, called the return to Victoria “a much-anticipated” move.

“We continuously receive requests from our passengers to service these communities,” Scott said in a statement.

“Many of these areas are experiencing reduced accessibility, and we know that Canadians need affordable air fares now more than ever. We are committed to supporting these communities across the country as they safely reopen to travel.”


Vancouver reopens crucial community facilities in the Downtown Eastside

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The City of Vancouver has re-opened three crucial community facilities that had reduced services months ago in response to COVID-19.

The Carnegie and Evelyne Saller Community Centres have reopened in the Downtown Eastside, the city said Wednesday in a news release, along with the Gathering Place Community Centre in Downtown Vancouver. All are now providing drop-in space and increased washroom access between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. every day.

The facilities, which mainly serve the city’s vulnerable and homeless population, have been inspected by health officials and approved for reopening. Drop-in space will be limited because of capacity restrictions.

“Reopening these community centres is a very positive step as they provide much-needed services and social connections for many of our residents,” said Sandra Singh, the City’s General Manager of Arts, Culture and Community Services.

“While the centres will look and feel different than prior to COVID-19, we are looking forward to welcoming community members back in modified ways and offering services such as access to wifi and mobile programming,” said Singh.

This is the first phase of reopening, while additional programs and services will be available in the coming months.

Timings for meals, laundry and showers can be found here.


Vancouver police left to untangle wig theft mystery

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The security camera footage shows a man in a hoodie attempting to throw a chunk of concrete through a storefront.

His first attempt misses, but the second shatters the glass front door. He enters the store with a buddy. Minutes later, both dash out with armfuls of hair.

Vancouver’s latest wig store break-in, on June 3, marked the fifth time in as many years that thieves have made off with hair. It’s the second time Jo Hair Studio has been hit since March, said Elise Murphy, manager of the Cambie Street salon, which sells wigs and hair extensions made from hair sourced from Europe and Brazil.

“I’ve been watching Craigslist to see if they show up,” she said.

On the surface, wig theft may be a bit of head-scratcher, but growing demand and the high cost of high-quality wigs may provide an explanation. Vancouver police estimate the cost of the wigs, hair extensions and hair toppers stolen from Jo Hair Studio in June to be about $45,000.


B.C. extends COVID-19 income, disability and senior assistance programs

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VICTORIA — B.C. will continue to offer COVID-19 financial support for income and disability clients, as well as monthly crisis supplements for low-income seniors, the government announced Monday.

The province has extended for two months its $300 monthly crisis supplement to low-income seniors, which also goes to income and disability clients who reside in special care facilities, said Social Development Minister Shane Simpson.

Recipients will not have to reapply, and the money will continue to flow automatically on cheques between July 22 and Aug. 26. The money is earmarked for British Columbians on provincial income, disability, senior’s or comfort assistance programs who aren’t receiving federal employment insurance or the $2,000 monthly Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). The program started in April.

The B.C. government also extended a policy that prevents clawbacks of financial aid from those receiving both new federal COVID-19 assistance on top of provincial income or disability assistance.


Vancouver man with dementia has been missing for one year

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The Vancouver Police Department has re-issuing a public plea for help in finding a 62-year-old Vancouver man who went missing from his assisted-living home one year ago.

David Sullivan, who has dementia and Type 2 diabetes, was last seen June 27, 2019.

“His disappearance was highly unusual and despite extensive efforts, police have found no sign of him,” said VPD spokesperson Sgt. Aaron Roed.  “We are appealing for the assistance of anyone who may have information on his disappearance. Understandably, his family and friends are desperate for answers.”

David Sullivan, who has dementia and Type 2 diabetes, was last seen June 27, 2019. VPD handout

In a security camera image captured two days after he was last seen, Sullivan was wearing a red-and-white checkered short-sleeve shirt, brown pants and carrying a blue gym bag.

He is described as a white man, bald, and around 5-feet-11 with a heavy build.

Anyone with information about Sullivan’s whereabouts can call the Vancouver police missing persons unit at-604 717-2533.


Campaign wants B.C. to keep $300 supplement after COVID-19 crisis ends

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Brent Frain and Sonjia Grandahl, roommates in Langley who both receive the disability benefit, have been independently advocating for the “300 to Live” campaign on social media.

Grandahl said the $300 is changing people’s lives.

“We’re living in a real state of poverty right now and with this COVID, everything has gone up in price,” Grandahl said. “(The supplement has) just helped out tremendously and we would like to keep it that way.”

Frain and Grandahl both said they’ve been able to buy healthier groceries, afford medications and worry less about their rent, which alone accounts for 59 per cent of their incomes.

The $300 supplement has meant people can live with dignity and finally afford accessibility equipment, too, Frain said.

“We want to make it permanent because the rates have been suppressed for so long,” he said.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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Vancouver park board votes to ease traffic restrictions in Stanley Park

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“We are joining Stanley Park businesses’ calls to remove uncertainty and restore broader accessibility to the park so customers can return and businesses can begin to recover. Moving forward, there should be a consultative and collaborative approach to working with the business community to improve environmentally friendly and low-carbon options to access the park.”

The Teahouse restaurant, which has been operating in Stanley Park for more than 40 years, has argued against a proposal to eliminate one of the two lanes of roadway and reduce available parking in Stanley Park.

“The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is the biggest crisis we’ve faced in 100 years, and we need normalcy rather than uncertainty,” said The Teahouse owner Brent Davies.

“The changes to Stanley Park are being made during an unprecedented time without consideration of the additional impact they will have. Reduced vehicle access and parking will be detrimental to employees and park goers.”

Dr. Bonnie Henry has backed the five members of the park board who don’t necessarily want to go back to the way it was pre-pandemic, saying she would be in favour of encouraging active transportation.

-with files from Gord McIntyre


Detention of former gang associate in special unit at Kent prison declared unlawful by judge

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In March there was a hearing before the warden that confirmed the transfer.

Raju applied to set aside the warden’s decision and argued in court that he was not treated fairly by prison officials, a claim the judge accepted.

“In my view, there has been substantial procedural unfairness visited on the applicant in these proceedings,” said the judge. “Significant disclosure on which the warden relied in reaching her decision was not disclosed to the applicant. Here, I refer to CCTV footage showing some interaction between the applicant and another inmate, said to depict an assault.”

Raj could not make submissions on what was shown on the CCTV footage because it was not disclosed to him, said the judge. The footage shows the other prisoner following Raju into his cell and six seconds later the other prisoner falling backward into the hallway, appearing to put his right hand up to the side of his face before immediately getting to his feet and re-entering the cell, he said.

“There is no way to discern from the CCTV footage what occurred between the two men during the critical six seconds. Because the CCTV footage was not disclosed to the applicant, he could not make submissions about what it did or did not depict,” the judge said.

The judge directed that Raju be released from SIU to a maximum security federal prison. Since the ruling, he’s been transferred to a prison in Edmonton.


‘What happened inside the hospital?’ Family of deceased Abbotsford man wants answers

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The new guidelines include “mental-health disability” — anyone in crisis or experiencing any mental-health-related issue that compromises decision-making.

The health authority said the revision was already in the works and is unrelated to Uko’s death.

But Nyee believes otherwise.

He said it’s clear Uko needed to have a person with him in the hospital.

“Samwel comes in with mental-health issues. How’re you going to deal with it? It’s not something you can see. It’s not something you can put under an MRI and you will know.

“They need someone to be there.”

Saskatchewan’s chief coroner is looking at the case seriously, but will not decide whether to hold an inquest until the investigation is complete, said a spokeswoman with the Ministry of Justice.

Citing privacy concerns, the health authority said it cannot talk about the case.

Scott Livingstone, head of the health authority, said earlier this week that officials were working with Uko’s family members to answer their questions.

Nyee said that didn’t happen right away.

And the family still doesn’t have answers.

“Did they give him the help that he needed? Did they at least try to do something?

“We want to know what happened.”

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

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