Category "Vancouver"


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 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.


‘Blindsided’: B.C. condo residents fearful, as extent of insurance crisis remains unclear

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In B.C., 1.5 million people, almost one in three, live in strata condos and townhouses, And many of which have been hit by skyrocketing insurance rates that have left residents in financial distress and worried about their futures.

“It is very disturbing and it is gut-wrenching. It is a grave concern for a lot of people,” said Jacqueline de Vooght, whose well-maintained Kelowna complex faces increases of more than 400 per cent for both its insurance premiums and water-damage deductibles.

“This must stop. … People are scared.”

Jacqueline de Vooght in front of her Kelowna strata building, which is facing a massive increase in insurance premiums and water-damage deductible. “People are scared,” she said.

Since Postmedia started reporting on this crisis last month, dozens of readers have shared horror stories of massive rate hikes (regardless of whether their buildings are old or new, or well-maintained), staggering increases in deductibles, insurance companies refusing to renew some policies or offering only partial replacement value.

Some unit owners worry they won’t be able to renew mortgages without proper building insurance while others can’t afford hundreds of extra dollars a month in strata fees. Renters worry increases will be passed on to them or that their landlords will simply sell, forcing them to move.

Many are angry that working families who bought into stratas because they couldn’t afford more expensive single-family homes now find themselves helpless in this newest crisis to hit B.C.’s housing market.

Dozens of interviews this week make it clear that although government and regulators are trying to find solutions, they have only just started gathering the necessary information to try to understand what is happening — so no quick fix is on the horizon.

And that means the situation is expected to get far worse before it gets better for B.C.’s 35,000 strata corporations and their occupants, who include just about every segment of society: Families, seniors, immigrants, renters, people on fixed incomes and high-earners in luxury towers.

That is of no comfort to residents like Asifa Lalji, who had to quit her public relations job two years ago when her muscular dystrophy worsened and now lives on disability assistance. Insurance rate hikes for her New Westminster condo building mean her strata fees will increase about $200 a month, which is tough to absorb if your budget is already stretched.

“There are seniors here that are on fixed incomes, low-income families that are going paycheque to paycheque, and people like me with disabilities. … You don’t want to be depleting all your savings and building up your debt just to live day-to-day, which is what is happening,” she said.

“And we’ve been told by the insurance companies that this is going to continue for at least another year.”

Lalji started an online petition that has already gathered nearly 8,700 signatures. She wants the provincial government to come up with “short-term and long-term changes that will protect the strata owner and renter from unfair increases and unfair liability.”

Asifa Lalji, a New Westminster condo owner who is facing unaffordable insurance rate increases.

Finance Minister Carole James said that her government is “working hard” to have some short-term ideas in the next month, but even those are unlikely to offer relief to someone like Lalji.

“This is a very complex issue. There aren’t simple solutions,” James said.

“We are gathering the data we need for long-term solutions. We are looking at how we can address the short-term pressures that people are facing. There isn’t a quick fix here, but I certainly am committed to making sure we are doing everything we can.”

James listed some options being considered by government to try to get companies to offer lower rates, although she made it clear they have not committed to pursuing any of them yet. These include closing a loophole that allows stratas to defer depreciation reports, requiring buildings to take measures to lower the risk of water damage, and more education for strata councils, which are comprised of owners who don’t necessarily have in-depth knowledge about maintenance or insurance.

Postmedia asked James about other ideas, including capping insurance rate hikes, making it mandatory for condo owners to have additional insurance to cover their own units, and government-operated housing insurance, similar to ICBC for cars. James said nothing was being ruled out as the government continues to investigate.

James said this issue wasn’t on the government’s radar until late last fall, about the time stratas started receiving renewal notices from their insurers. At this point, she does not even know how many stratas are being affected, and noted that condo owners without rate hikes are worried about what will happen to their buildings in the future.

“The magnitude of the problem still has to be determined,” she said.

Because home insurance is in the private sector, James said, government has not kept figures on rate hikes for condos. But she has asked the information be gathered now by the new Crown agency that regulates insurance, the B.C. Financial Services Authority, which replaced the Financial Institutions Commission.

So, well into a crisis, the Financial Services Authority is essentially starting at square 1 to gather information on how widespread rate hikes are, the average increases across the province, and why this is happening now.

The authority is determining how many of the 300 insurance companies in B.C. provide strata insurance, and how many have stopped offering policies to condos and townhouses, said its deputy superintendent, Frank Chong. It is also collecting at least two years of data on every policy’s value, location, number of units, type of units, construction type, age of building, commissions paid to brokers, and deductibles for earthquake, sewer and water damage.

Chong, who noted his agency’s role is to “make sure that consumers are being treated fairly,” hopes to have a partial picture by the end of March, and a complete picture by the end of April.

“We recognize the significance of how important of an issue this is to people and the concern and uncertainty it is really causing right now,“ he said.

“There is overall recognition among various stakeholders, the (authority) included, that this will remain an issue going forward. So we will devote resources here to understanding how this issue has played out and how it will play out over the coming weeks and months.”

The data, Chong hopes, will explain why insurers feel the strata market has become an unprofitable one for them.

Even at the national level, the Canadian Council of Insurance Regulators, an umbrella organization for regulators in each province, has not taken action on this issue. Its members will meet in early April to discuss whether rate hikes are occurring in other provinces and to suggest possible responses, said the council’s policy manager, Tony Toy.

Toy, who is also with the Ontario regulator, said he is aware of only B.C. and Alberta raising concerns. Chong, also a member of the national council, said he has heard of similar concerns, but to a lesser extent, in Manitoba and Quebec.

It’s not clear, though, why B.C.’s neighbours to the south aren’t reporting similar cost increases, including in the hot real estate market of Seattle.

“We’re not hearing from our consumers about this issue,” said Stephanie Marquis, a spokeswoman for the Washington state Office of the Insurance Commissioner. “According to our actuaries who review the filings … they haven’t seen a slew of big increases for condos.”

Some buildings struggle to get insurance

The steep increases in B.C. are a big enough problem for condo owners. But for Michel Proulx, there is an even bigger problem keeping him up at night.

Last month, HUB International, a massive American insurance brokerage, notified the strata council at Proulx’s Port Coquitlam building that its insurance would expire on Friday, March 6, due to “reducing market capacity.” Following negotiations with the strata, HUB came back this week to say it found enough insurers to cover 67 per cent of the replacement costs of the building, but not the 100 per cent required under B.C.’s Strata Property Act.

Proulx, a retired banker, is concerned not only about the financial risk but also the legal issues of not having sufficient insurance — people may not be able to renew mortgages and selling units may become impossible.

Proulx, who said his large complex is well-maintained and he is not aware of major recent claims, urged the government to step in quickly before many unit owners face financial ruin.

Owners in his building are facing strata fees increases of roughly $200 a month, he said. “We can swing it, but there are a lot of young families in our development for whom it could be pretty tight with mortgage payments.”

Why is this happening?

There are several confusing elements in this crisis, such as why the insurance hikes appear to be hitting British Columbia the hardest and why — so far — single-family homes seem to be immune.

We went in search of answers from several places, including HUB International.

“The class has been unprofitable for most insurers over the past few years due to … rising claims costs and frequency,” said Sarah Thompson, HUB’s chief marketing officer in B.C. “Poorly constructed new buildings and the lack of preventative maintenance in older buildings has driven higher frequency and severity of water claims.”

Other factors include buildings being constructed too close together “without municipalities investing in improving fire protection,” the increase in reconstruction costs, the rise in severe weather in Canada and globally, and some insurers have left the industry or reduced the amount they will cover, which has led to increased premiums and higher deductibles “to attract insurers” to stay in the market, Thompson said.

When asked about examples like Proulx’s building, which could not get a renewal to cover 100 per cent of replacement costs, Thompson said the broker approaches more than 40 insurers to try to find full coverage for clients. “Unfortunately, given the current market conditions, full replacement cost coverage is not always achievable,” she said in an email.

Condo insurance increases are happening in other areas of Canada, she said, but B.C. has an extra challenge because it is in an earthquake-prone area.

B.C. Finance Minister Carole James, left, walks by Vancouver condo towers in June 2019 with Federal Minister of Finance Bill Morneau.

James, the finance minister, insists increases are happening across Canada, including in Ontario. But she notes the high price of labour and materials makes replacement costs for damaged buildings higher in B.C. than in other provinces. Another move B.C.’s government is considering is improving transparency so that unit owners would be given more notice about rate hikes and better understand why costs are increasing.

James stopped short, though, of endorsing a recommendation that stemmed from an interim report released during Australia’s three-year royal commission into out-of-control insurance rates in the northern half of the country: It urged the government to develop a national home insurance comparison website to allow consumers to compare policies.

The report from Australia notes that in the northern half of the country, which has had a series of expensive insurance claims, residents are anxious about the steep rise in rates and “fear devastation if disaster hits” and they are uninsured or underinsured.

“We have observed an unusual competitive dynamic, with insurers in northern Australia not necessarily motivated to compete on price for market share,” the report says. “Instead we have seen them increasing prices to manage their exposure in a region they perceive to be risky or volatile. This is exacerbating affordability concerns.”

Queensland resident Margaret Shaw has been advocating change since 2011, but said some stratas simply can’t find insurance. Laws have been changed to allow some buildings to have only partial replacement value insurance because that is all they can find. Yet one complex with previous flood damage had its insurance increase to $425,000 a year from $92,000.

“Home and contents and rural (insurance) seem to have stabilized. Commercial and business is getting worse. And strata, well — strata is well and truly stuffed,” Shaw said in an email. “I hate to tell you, the situation will only get worse, with no solution available at the moment.”

Industry representatives offer explanations, recommendations

The Insurance Brokers Association of B.C. released a set of proposed legislative reforms last month, and weeks later the Insurance Bureau of Canada, the lobbying association for the country’s insurers, released its own recommendations. Both organizations, along with the opposition B.C. Liberals, want the Strata Property Act amended to clearly define a standard unit to determine what strata lot owners are responsible for and what the strata corporation is responsible for.

That move could help alleviate confusion and reduce the number of claims filed by stratas, said Rob de Pruis, IBC director of consumer and industry relations for Western Canada. He, like the government, does not have figures on how many insurers have exited this market.

Despite many headlines and the opposition Liberals providing examples of 300- or 400-per-cent condo insurance cost hikes, he argued the reality is closer to “an average of 30 to 35 per cent.” But conceded that information is “more anecdotal.”

De Pruis said insurance companies are being hit by “a whole bunch of market conditions” such as increasing frequency and severity of claims filed by stratas and climate-related disasters across the globe, including hurricanes in the U.S. and wildfires in Australia.

“It’s hard to translate to say the California wildfires are causing your condo premium in Vancouver to go up, it’s not a direct correlation. But that’s just another compounding factor,” he said. “We just seem to have a lot of economic and regional factors that are converging all at once that are impacting, certainly, many strata corporations.”

Tony Gioventu is the executive director of the Condominium Homeowners Association. He is pictured in New Westminster in 2014.

Condo owners ‘blindsided’

Tony Gioventu, executive director of the Condominium Home Owners Association of B.C., worries some policy proposals being advanced by the insurance industry may not result in lower rates for consumers.

“Are we just throwing the industry more of a financial benefit and we’re not getting anything in return? In which case, it’s the consumer who pays the price for it,” he said.

This week, Gioventu heard from residents of a Surrey condo tower, which has had several insurance claims, that their premiums are increasing 600 per cent. It will double the cost of monthly strata fees from an average of $350 a unit to $700. Deductibles have jumped to $750,000, Gioventu said, which raises the question: “Why bother to insure at all?”

High-risk buildings tend to be condo towers that are more than 25 years old and any buildings with a history of claims or maintenance problems, even low-rise townhouses, said Gioventu. Luxury buildings, even new ones, are also high-risk, he said, because the high-end finishings mean high replacement costs.

Gioventu, who has been in his role since 1998, said the recent insurance hikes hitting some of B.C.’s 900,000 condo units represent probably the biggest challenge his organization has faced since the leaky condo crisis of the late 1990s.

“This condo insurance thing has totally blindsided everyone. No one saw it coming,” Gioventu said. “It’s going to redefine the term housing affordability.”

Ian Gilhooley stands on the balcony of his condo on West Cordova street in Vancouver.

Ian Gilhooley, a retired financial executive, said his Coal Harbour building has been hit with an insurance increase of close to 225 per cent, despite having no serious claims history.

“Basically, this market can be played, because nobody has any choice in the matter. What’s to stop it going up 300 per cent next year?” Gilhooley said. “There’s absolutely no way you can look at this marketplace and say it’s functioning properly … There’s a very broad public policy issue here.”

Almost half the condos in Vancouver are not occupied by their owners, and James, the finance minister, said that anything that could raise rents is a real concern.

Like Gilhooley, de Vooght said her Kelowna complex is meticulously maintained but still faces insurance premium hikes to $325,000 a year from $100,000 and deductibles for water damage jumping to $50,000 from $10,000.

“Frankly, this is not sustainable. Owners cannot afford these increases,” said de Vooght, noting numerous seniors in her building live on strict budgets. “Hard-working, responsible people have downsized to what we thought was an affordable way to retire, and now this has blown up in our faces.”


Two B.C. post-secondary schools close over COVID-19 case

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A student tries to enter University Canada West in Vancouver on Thursday. The school is closing for three days for disinfection after two students were potentially exposed to the new coronavirus.

Jason Payne / PNG

COVID-19 could be a “gut shot” to B.C. schools and universities that rely on fees from international students, an immigration expert said Thursday, as two private post-secondary schools in Vancouver closed their doors because of a case of the novel coronavirus.

University Canada West said a student is in quarantine after being visited by her father. The father tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving from overseas for a visit and developing symptoms, according to Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer. The student’s roommate is also in quarantine.

The business school and an arts and design school in the same building on West Pender Street will be closed for three days to do a deep cleaning.

“Students and staff who may have been in close contact with the affected students have been identified and contacted with information and advice,” said a UCW media release.

B.C. schools and universities said the coronavirus outbreak hasn’t significantly affected their international student programs, but administrators are monitoring the situation with an eye toward September enrolment.

At Simon Fraser University, a university-wide planning group is looking at possible impacts from the virus, including finances, said Angela Wilson, senior director of media relations and public affairs. SFU has not seen declining enrolment since visa offices have been closed in China and Iran, but they are monitoring the situation closely.

UBC has not seen any enrolment drops, but the situation is constantly evolving, said the director of university affairs, Matthew Ramsey.

UBC is working with prospective international students on a “case by case basis” to help those who may be experiencing difficulties getting their applications together, extending some deadlines to the end of March.

Ramsey could not say how many applications have been affected. UBC typically doesn’t have solid enrolment numbers until November.

“We are watching this really, really carefully,” he said about the virus, adding the university is following the advice of Canadian health authorities, including the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

In January, UBC created a working group of people from across campus to discuss issues related to the virus, including how classes and exams might be offered using technology if attendance was no longer advisable.

Impacts on the Vancouver school district’s international student program “are minimal at present,” according to a statement provided to Postmedia.

“VSB programs are linear and the majority of international students arrive in August to study here. Given our enrolment timelines, it’s too early to provide enrolment details (for the) next school year.”

But Vancouver immigration lawyer Richard Kurland said the coronavirus should be a concern for schools and universities as the closure of some Canadian visa application centres abroad will make it difficult for students hoping to attend school here.

“Canadian schools are about to experience a cash crunch,” he said. “Stopping the visa application centres is like shutting off the water flow. They might not feel it yet, but it’s coming.”

Kurland said international students who are currently studying in Canada may not be able to return home. Students are not allowed to work more than 20 hours per week off campus.

“That should be lifted immediately. They should be entitled to work to support themselves,” he said.

Several school districts have cancelled field trips because of the virus, including Vancouver, Surrey and Burnaby. Overseas trips have been cancelled as well as those to New York City, Seattle, Burlington and Vancouver, Washington.

Also this week, the annual Asia-Pacific Association for International Education conference scheduled to be held in Vancouver later this month was postponed to March 2021. More than 2,500 people were registered to attend, said a news release.

In 2018, the B.C. government said the province had attracted more foreign students per capita than anywhere else in Canada — 130,000 in total — stating they inject $2 billion each year into the economy, creating 29,000 jobs.

In 2016, 28 per cent of UBC’s first-year contingent were foreign students.

A report on B.C. international students published in 2018 found that 13.7 per cent of post-secondary students in B.C. in 2016-17 were from outside Canada, as well as 7.7 per cent of the graduating Grade 12s. China (38 per cent) and India (21 per cent) were the two main sources of international students studying in B.C.


With Postmedia files


Eighth case of COVID-19 recorded in B.C., say health officials

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The patient is a woman in her 60s who is visiting family from Tehran.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, gives an update on coronavirus, COVID-19, in this file photo.

Francis Georgian / PNG

B.C. now has eight cases of COVID-19.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Adrian Dix, B.C.’s health minister, gave the update at 10:15 a.m. on Saturday.

The patient is a woman in her 60s who is visiting family from Tehran.

The woman is in isolation at home with a relatively mild case, said Henry.

She is in the Vancouver Coastal Health region. A small number of her close contacts are also in isolation.

More to come…


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B.C. seniors residences taking steps to prevent COVID-19

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The coronavirus family includes COVID-19 and SARS-CoV, both of which can infect humans.

Genome BC / PNG

Seniors residences are among the B.C. health care facilities taking “robust steps” to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as the risk of severe illness increases sharply for people in their 70s or older.

In a statement, the B.C. Centre for Disease Control said that while the risk remains low at this time, those interacting with people at seniors residences should be aware of the “particular risks” and take precautions to protect the elderly from all respiratory viruses, including COVID-19 and influenza.

B.C.’s senior advocate Isobel Mackenzie told Postmedia she has “complete confidence” in the way B.C.’s health system is managing the virus, adding she wouldn’t hesitate to speak out if she was concerned.

“I don’t think we need to be fearful for seniors in care homes,” she said. “We need to have perspective.”

B.C.’s seniors advocate, Isobel Mackenzie.



Mackenzie pointed to the small number of cases of COVID-19 in B.C. despite the high number of people who have been tested. She said the higher risk for seniors right now remains influenza.

In the case of an outbreak of the virus in a seniors residence, disease outbreak protocols would “kick in,” she said. In the past, some B.C. residences have experienced norovirus and influenza outbreaks prompting them to close to visitors and requiring staff to don gloves, gowns and masks.

Echoing the messaging from the BCCDC, Mackenzie said B.C. has a “robust set of protocols” that could be put in place in care homes to deal with an outbreak of COVID-19.

But she said people should avoid visiting loved ones in a care home if they are feeling under the weather.

The BCCDC said all B.C. health care facilities are engaged in identifying those who meet the criteria for possible COVID-19 infection, ensuring they do not pose a risk to others. They are also supporting staff and visitors to follow proper handwashing guidelines and hygiene etiquette.

The centre also had a special message for people who interact with those living in seniors residences saying they should “be aware of the particular risks of respiratory illnesses to older people.”

Precautions to protect residents from all respiratory viruses include regular handwashing, coughing or sneezing into your elbow and staying home if you are unwell, have travelled to affected areas in the previous 14 days, or been in contact with someone who has tested positive.



Three more B.C. cases of COVID-19 now recovered

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Health officials say three more cases of COVID-19 in B.C. have now recovered.


Health officials say three more cases of COVID-19 in B.C. have now recovered.

Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry spoke in a weekly briefing Tuesday and said Case 2, 3 and 4 – a Vancouver resident who was hosting two relatives from the Wuhan region – have recovered and are awaiting final tests before being released from quarantine at home.

Case 5 – a woman living in the B.C. Interior who had returned from Shanghai – is also doing well, while Case 6 and 7 – two Fraser Valley residents who had close contact with each other, one of which who had recently returned from Iran – remain at home in isolation while recovering.


More to come.


B.C. health officials to share update on COVID-19 on Monday

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Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry confirms a second case of coronavirus in B.C., during a press conference in Vancouver, Tuesday, February 4, 2020.

Jason Payne / PNG

B.C. health minister and provincial health officer are set to share an update on the coronavirus on Monday morning.

Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry will speak in a teleconference at 9 a.m. We will share updates as they happen.

In an announcement Thursday, Dix and Henry said B.C. now had its sixth case of coronavirus, now known as COVID-19, after returning from a week in Iran. The woman lives in the Fraser Health region.

Henry had said staff were surprised by a new case linked to Iran, which only recently reported it had five cases of COVID-19 and two deaths.

“That could be an indicator that there’s more widespread transmission. This is what we call an indicator or sentinel event,” Henry said during the Thursday news conference.

The first of B.C.’s six cases was a Vancouver Coastal Health-area resident who had travelled to China. He has since fully covered.

The second, third and fourth cases were a Vancouver-area woman and her two relatives, who were visiting from China. Those three individuals remain in isolation at home and in recovery.

The fifth case is a woman in her 30s who had recently returned from Shanghai, China, and who remained in isolation at home in B.C.’s Interior.

Three cases of the virus have also been confirmed in Ontario.

As of Feb. 23, the World Health Organization said there were 78,811 confirmed cases globally, with 1,017 new cases within the 24 hours prior to the report being published. The majority of those cases remain in China, where the epicentre of the outbreak is located. There are 77,042 confirmed cases and 2,445 deaths in China to date.

Outside of China, there have been 17 deaths. In Canada, there have only been nine cases to date, with only one case being transmitted outside of China. There have been no deaths due to COVID-19 in Canada.


Paralympian sees Sun Run as way to help youth build community

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Paralympian Emily Young will be leading the Classroom Champions youth team for the 2020 Vancouver Sun Run.


Paralympian Emily Young remembers the exact day when she realized she would have to give up her beloved sport of wrestling due to injury.

“I was absolutely terrified,” said the 29-year-old Kelowna resident of the “true reality check” she faced. “I was going to be leaving something that I knew so well, like the back of my hand, and had to take a risk and try something new, and I had no idea how it was going to go.”

In 2009, Young dislocated her right elbow and injured her right shoulder, just before the Canada Games. The injury damaged her ulnar nerve from her neck to her fingers and over time, the nerve injury degraded, locking her right elbow and restricting her ability to straighten her arm.

Several rounds of surgery eventually put Young on a challenging road that ultimately would not bring her back to the wrestling mat.

“There was a lot of soul searching. I was lucky to have grown up with so much sport community in my life, that I had to come to a realization that … I wasn’t going to be defined by an injury,” Young told Postmedia about having to leave behind high-level international wrestling.

“But I was going to take all my experiences from sport in general and find another open door that I could direct my energy towards.”

And she certainly has. These days, Young competes in para nordic skiing — and has collected a few Paralympic medals to boot — and has channeled her experiences into inspiring Canadian youth as part of the Classroom Champions program.

The program pairs elite athletes with classrooms across Canada as mentors, using their personal experiences to guide students in discussing healthy living, community and personal development.

The 2019 Sun Run and Shaw Mini Sun Run is pictured.

Robert Shaer /


This spring, Young will serve as the elite athlete ambassador, running alongside a group of about 50 Classroom Champions youth, in the 2020 Vancouver Sun Run, in the Shaw Mini 2.5-kilometre Sun Run division. It’s an experience Young looks forward to, having enjoyed the experience once upon a time as a child herself.

When asked about advice for youth runners participating in the Sun Run — which is daunting for many adults, let alone youth participating for the first time — Young reiterated the importance of relying on one’s community and pushing forward with commitment.

“When I got offered the opportunity to ski, there was a kind of fork in the road where I had to 100 per cent commit to it to be successful and go as far as I have been able to go — or be stuck in this little whirlpool of surgeries and self-pity,” said Young.

“It’s terrifying, but the risk came with such big benefit, not only with Paralympic medals but also with relationships and personal growth.”

While the Sun Run can be an overwhelming day, with thousands of people running through the streets of Vancouver, Young encouraged youth teams and participants to enjoy the day and rely on community to help them get to the finish line.

“At the end of it, it’s such a cool experience and you meet such good people,” said Young. “There’ll be a lot of people who will see a lot of personal growth but also lots of friendships grow out of it as well.”

The final deadline to register a youth team for the Vancouver Sun Run is March 13, 2020. For more information, visit

Paralympian Emily Young, 29, is pictured competing in Para nordic skiing.




B.C. woman diagnosed with COVID-19 after returning from Iran

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B.C.’s health officials are set to share an update on novel coronavirus.

Genome BC / PNG

Another case of the coronavirus has been diagnosed in British Columbia.

The provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, says a woman in her 30s has been diagnosed with COVID-19 after returning this week from Iran. The woman lives in the Fraser Health region.

“Our continued view is that the risk to B.C. is low, we are acting with vigilance,” she said.

Henry said staff were surprised by a new case linked to Iran, which only recently reported it had five cases of COVID-19 and two deaths.

“That triggered interest from people around the world,” Henry said. “I expect there will be an investigation to determine where the exposure occurred.”

Iran has reported at least 20 other people in various areas who are being tested, Henry said.  “And we’ll be linking with them to see where this person had been in Iran — we’re tracing her travel all the way back to Iran.”

Henry says the woman’s case is relatively mild and a number of her close contacts are in isolation.

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said the patient’s samples have been sent to the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, Man., for final confirmation.

This brings the number of cases of COVID-19 in B.C. to six.

“So far in B.C. all of our cases have been relatively mild and managed mostly at home,” she said.

Henry said earlier that four of the five people diagnosed with the virus were symptom free.

The fifth person, a woman in her 30s who returned from Shanghai, China, is in isolation at her home in B.C.’s Interior.

Henry said over 500 people have been tested for the virus in B.C. and many of those tested positive for the flu.

“We’re in containment,” she explained, adding that because many cases are mild, the virus can be transmitted when people few symptoms.

“It makes it very difficult to contain the virus. We’re not out of the woods yet.”

Three cases of the virus have also been confirmed in Ontario.

As of Thursday, the World Health Organization said there were 75,748 confirmed cases globally, with 548 new cases reported in the past 24 hours. The majority of those cases are in China, with 2,121 deaths recorded to date in the country.

Outside of China, there have been eight deaths across 26 countries. In Canada, there have only been eight cases to date, with only one case being transmitted outside of China. There have been no deaths due to COVID-19 in Canada.

— With files from Lynn Mitges, Stephanie Ip, and the Canadian Press

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