Posts Tagged "North Shore"

21Jul

Overdose crisis: B.C. premier calls on Trudeau to decriminalize drug possession for personal use

by admin

VICTORIA —
British Columbia’s premier is urging Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to take an “enormous step” to reduce stigma associated with illicit drug use by decriminalizing possession for personal use.

In a letter sent Monday to the prime minister, John Horgan says people in B.C. are experiencing unprecedented rates of overdose-related harms, including deaths because of the toxic street drug supply.

The letter says criminal prohibitions are ineffective in deterring drug use and criminalization prevents people from seeking the help they need.

Horgan says he supports the recent call by Canada’s police chiefs to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of illicit drugs for personal use as the best way to battle addiction.

He says his ministers will reach out to their federal counterparts to take further steps.

The BC Coroners Service said last week that a record 175 people died in June of illicit-drug overdoses, surpassing the previous record of 171 deaths just a month before.

A public health emergency was declared in 2016 and since then about 5,000 people in B.C. have died from illicit-drug overdoses, with many caused by the powerful opioid fentanyl.

“Behind these statistics lies a very personal tragedy,” Horgan says. “We are losing our family members and our friends, our neighbours and our colleagues. We must do more.”

Overdose continues to be the leading cause of unnatural death in B.C. and life expectancy at birth is declining in the province largely due to the overdose crisis, he says.

By changing the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to decriminalize possession for personal use, “the federal government would take an enormous step to reduce the systemic stigma associated with illicit drug use and support people to access the services that they need to stay safe and start their path to recovery,” Horgan says.

The federal Ministry of Health said in a statement Monday it has expanded the accessibility of vital health and social services for people who use drugs.

“These actions include supporting the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act, funding programs like drug treatment courts for those whose substance use contributes to their offending, supporting enhanced access to harm reduction services such as supervised consumption sites, access to pharmaceutical-grade medications, also known as safer supply, and an expanded range of treatment options,” it said.

“Our government remains committed to advancing evidence-based responses to help reverse the trend of opioid overdose deaths and other substance-related harms in Canada.”

The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police has proposed increasing access to health care, treatment and social services in order to divert people away from the criminal justice system, which would apply to those in possession of a small amount of illicit drugs for personal consumption.

It also called for the creation of a national task force to research drug policy reform that looked at the law that covers simple possession.

Association president and Vancouver Chief Const. Adam Palmer has said that the fentanyl crisis and a poisoned drug supply have devastated communities and taken thousands of lives across Canada.

“We recommend that enforcement for possession give way to an integrated health-focused approach that requires partnerships between police, health care and all levels of government.”

B.C.’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, has also called for the decriminalization of people who possess small amounts of drugs, saying people use substances for many reasons.

“Nobody grows up thinking ‘I want to be addicted to substances, I want to have a substance use disorder, I want to have this controlling my life,”’ she said last week.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 20, 2020.

17Jul

‘Price of having COVID-19’: Richmond, B.C. survivor deals with symptoms months later

by admin

VANCOUVER —
Life for Lorraine Graves has taken a dramatic turn.

Before March, she says she was living a vibrant life: public speaking, hosting workshops and working as a journalist in Richmond, B.C.

Now, having one phone call with a friend in the morning will exhaust her energy for the rest of the day and she will be forced to lie down — and that’s on a good day, she says.

“I’m incredibly disappointed that the price of having COVID-19 is that my life is going to be a pale imitation of what it could have been,” she tells CTV News.

She didn’t know it at the time, but back in early March, she had been infected with the coronavirus.

She and three family members in the house were all sick around the same time with various symptoms.

“Everybody had a different collection of symptoms from the grab-bag of possibilities and everybody had a different severity and I drew the short straw.

“I woke up feeling like I’d been hit by a bus. My lungs, instead of air, were full of egg white. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t cough out. I had headaches; I had pains; my brain was foggy.”

She also couldn’t taste or smell a delicious dinner her husband had prepared.

Some of symptoms her family had weren’t considered hallmark COVID traits in the early days of the pandemic, so they weren’t tested at the time.

“My GP told me I definitely had COVID-19. The lack of sense of taste is very rare in a viral condition, plus the lung problems, plus all the other things,” she says.

She says she was symptom-free one month later but then suddenly, her lungs felt like an “old helium balloon” that had unexpectedly deflated.

She’s been experiencing a wave of symptoms ever since.

“I thought it was binary, you live or die,” she says coughing. “I didn’t understand that it’s like polio, where there were people who lived, people who died and people who lived with long-term consequences.”

She is now part of a club called the Long-haulers, a club she never thought she’d be part of.

“We’re in it for the long haul. It’s not one and done,” she says.

She’s found a community of other COVID survivors who are still dealing with the aftermath of the disease.

There’s COVID Long Haulers Support Group Canada which has more than 700 members and Survivor Corps which has over 70,000 members.

“This disease can be debilitating. It can be deadly. But it can cost you the rest of your life’s health as well,” she says.

New study looks at long-term health impacts

Why some COVID patients are still suffering from lingering symptoms while others are symptom-free is the focus of a new study.

The Canadian COVID-19 Prospective Cohort Study looks at roughly 2,000 patients, some who were in the intensive care unit and put on ventilators, and some who were never hospitalized at all, like Graves.

“Why are patients who are not as sick, why do they still have lingering symptoms? And so I think it’s still in the early days, in terms of trying to understand that piece,” says Dr. Angela Cheung with the University Health Network, a co-lead in the research. “We’re looking at their genetics, how their — what we call biomarkers — to see how we can separate the people who are going to be really sick versus those who are not as sick.”

Another piece of the study is understanding the caregivers of those patients who were sickest with COVID and the impact the disease is having on those families and their mental health.

“These patients will have very significant disability — after critical illness and after severe acute respiratory distress syndrome, which is the life-threatening complication of COVID-19 — the patients will be weak,” explains Dr. Margaret Herridge, co-lead in the study.

Dr. Herridge says some patients may still struggle with persistent coughs up to eight weeks after a viral illness, but other symptoms, like fatigue, are a cause for concern.

“These systemic complications that might lead you to think that there are other organ system issues would be unusual. And I think if people are suffering from these symptoms they definitely should be seen,” she says.

Experts from Ontario, Quebec, B.C., Alberta, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia are now helping to find out more about the health implications of this mysterious disease.

“It will be extremely helpful to plan for how to best look after these folks and to help inform public health policy,” explains Dr. Herridge.

Patients are still being recruited for the study. Anyone who’s still experiencing symptoms after testing positive for COVID-19 and is interested in participating in the study is asked to email CANCOV@uhn.ca.

14Jul

Abbotsford family raising funds for custom trailer for daughter with severe allergies

by admin

ABBOTSFORD, B.C. —
Katie Hobson’s home for the past two years has been her 1995 Ford Ranger pickup, with a small motorcycle cargo trailer attached to the back.

The 36-year-old former teacher is now living in a remote area near Cranbrook with her dog, Chester. Part of the reason for her isolation: severe environmental sensitivities that cause debilitating migraines. She also suffers from a number of other medical conditions, and for a time needed a PICC line, or catheter to the vein, inserted to be able to take regular intravenous medications.

“It’s a challenge for anybody who’s homeless to be in the elements,” Hobson told CTV. “And then for myself, with the added medical issues that I have, like the migraines and the allergies to everything, it just pushes homelessness to this whole new level of what feels like a complete impossibility.”

Hobson does not have heat, plumbing, or power. She is not able to stay at campsites or parks due to the odours that will trigger her migraines. In the winters, she’s driven down into the U.S. to avoid the cold.

“Last year, for example, in this area where I’m at, Chester and I made it till about middle of October, and then the temperatures dropped to minus 13,” Hobson said. “It was just so cold.”

Hobson’s mother Ronda said prior to becoming homeless, her daughter had been renting a place in Sechelt which did not aggravate her allergies, but the house was sold.

“At that same time she got sepsis from her PICC line,” Ronda said. “Between those two things, she’s not been able to find a place to be able to tolerate and to live in, especially since the sepsis, because her sensitivities are even worse than they’ve been.”

Ronda said Hobson was an incredible teacher who specialized in high school English, but ultimately had to go on permanent disability after a year due to her allergies.

“That was very hard for her,” Ronda said. “Katie is just a really incredible woman. She really is very gifted. She writes music, she plays her guitar….I just would like to see her live out her special life with her condition, to be able to live it to the fullest that she can.”

Now an online fundraiser is collecting donations to help improve Hobson’s living situation, including finding her a more reliable vehicle and ordering a custom self-contained trailer.

Bud Stephenson with All Parts Trailers is helping coordinate the special order with an American manufacturer.

“It’s going to be almost all metal inside. Very, very little of anything else,” Stephenson said, and added they have to avoid using plastic due to Hobsons sensitivities. “This one she’ll be able to hook onto a regular smaller pickup truck and move it around at will.”

Stephenson said they’ve never ordered a trailer with those unique specifications before. He also said a surge in demand for trailers during the pandemic has slowed down the process.

“We’re way behind,” Stephenson said, and noted the maker of the trailer they’re ordering was also shut down for two months. “So they’re catching up.”

He’s hoping the order may be placed by this week, and then expects it will take about ten weeks to arrive.

Hobson’s mother said having the self-contained trailer where her daughter could comfortably live year-round would “mean the world.”

“It would mean a lot,” Ronda said, on the verge of tears. “It just has never felt safe. Every time she left Canada to go south, my heart broke as a mom.”

Ronda said they’re also hoping to find a piece of land where she can set up her home long-term, and added Hobson also plans to prepare her home to be off-grid, in case there are no water or power hookups.

14Jul

Vote on overnight camping in Vancouver parks pushed to 2nd day as dozens sign up to speak

by admin

VANCOUVER —
After an hours-long discussion on whether to allow overnight camping in many of Vancouver’s green spaces, the meeting has been pushed to a second day, with the city’s park board expected to vote Tuesday night.

A special Vancouver Park Board meeting was planned for Monday to consider bylaw changes allowing temporary camping in many of the city’s parks. 

But as nearly 90 people signed up to speak on the controversial issue, the meeting had to be extended into Tuesday. 

A report, authored by the board’s general manager, recommends “the Parks Control Bylaw be amended to allow people to erect temporary overnight shelter in a park when they have no other housing or shelter options.”  

Under the proposed changes, campers would be expected to pack up their tents by 8 a.m. and, if approved, washroom facilities and storage options would then be arranged by the board.

Some people living at the park told CTV News it’ll be hard to meet those requirements, as people would be required to carry or store their belongings throughout the day. 

The report also recommends the designation of authorized parks for overnight camping, which would have to be 25 metres from schools and playgrounds, avoid sensitive environmental features, protect green spaces and support public use of fields, pools, and other amenities.

Tuesday’s meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. and nearly 50 people are still signed up to speak. 

Encampments on the move

Dozens have set up tents in East Vancouver’s Strathcona Park after two other encampments were ordered to clear out. 

A long-term tent city in Oppenheimer Park was directed to move in May, as officials cited concerns of the possible spread of COVID-19. But just hours later, a new tent city popped in in a parking lot near CRAB Park.  

That encampment was cleared in June, which is when tenters relocated to Strathcona Park. 

With files from CTV News Vancouver’s Penny Daflos and Alissa Thibault 

13Jul

B.C. Para-cyclist embarking on epic ride in support of Paralympic sport

by admin

VANCOUVER —
After the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games were postponed due to the global health crisis, Tristen Chernove shifted gears and set his sights on tackling another feat.

The three-time Paralympic medalist from Cranbrook was set to compete in the summer games but is now preparing for a gruelling ride through southern B.C.

Chernove said he hopes to make the trip from Fernie to Merritt which spans 1,000 kilometres, in just three days. He would be the first Para-cyclist to complete the trek.

It’s part of the BC Epic 1000, an almost entirely off-road and self-supported cycling challenge, which raises money for the Canadian Paralympic Foundation.

The foundation aims to provide more opportunities for Canadian athletes with disabilities to participate in various sports. 

He recognizes the impact funding from the organization has had on his own cycling career and is excited to help give back to other athletes. 

“It was one of those foundations that I could try to give back to, that was very personal,” Chernove told CTV News. “I know exactly how the work they do plays out in the lives of people living with a disability.” 

The 45-year-old took home three medals at the 2016 Summer Paralympics in Rio, including a gold, silver and bronze. He also captured 13 world titles. 

Chernove plans to set off on his journey before sunrise Saturday, where he hopes to raise $40,000 for the Canadian Paralympic Foundation. 

“I do my best as far as performing as an athlete when I have difficult challenges to rise to and this to me looked like something that would challenge me on many levels,” said Chernove, in a news release.

He adds that he’s never done any long distance cycling events before and is new to self-supported biking. 

“This is providing something else for me to focus on and push myself in a different way.”

11Jul

One man dead in Abbotsford shooting

by admin

VANCOUVER —
One man is dead following a shooting in Abbotsford Friday.

Abbotsford Police say they responded at around 7:50 p.m. to a report of shots fired in the 2700 block of Lucern Crescent, near Lower Sumas Mountain.

Investigators have now identified a man in his 40s who died at the scene, according to police. The investigation will now be transferred to the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team.

Detectives and forensic identification officers remain on the scene as they continue their investigation and will be continuing to canvass the area for video and witnesses, say police.

Police are asking anyone for any CCTV or dashcam footage from the time of the shooting. Anyone who has information about the incident can call the major crime unit at 604-859-5225. To report information anonymously, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

10Jul

Overnight homeless camping recommended to Vancouver Park Board

by admin

VANCOUVER —
One of the most controversial and persistent issues in Vancouver has entered a new phase after the Vancouver Park Board announced a special meeting to receive a new staff report suggesting bylaw changes to allow campers to put down stakes in parks overnight.

A report, authored by the board’s general manager, recommends “the Parks Control Bylaw be amended to allow people to erect temporary overnight shelter in a park when they have no other housing or shelter options.”

Under the proposed changes, campers would be expected to pack up their tents by 8 a.m. and, if approved, washroom facilities and storage options would then be arranged by the board.

The report also recommends the designation of authorized parks for overnight camping, which would have to be 25 metres from schools and playgrounds, avoid sensitive environmental features, protect green spaces and support public use of fields, pools, and other amenities.

Dozens of homeless campers have set up tents in East Vancouver’s Strathcona Park in recent weeks after dozens were arrested under judicial authorization for refusing to leave an encampment parking lot owned by the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority next to CRAB Park. Before that, they’d been forced from a long-term tent city at Oppenheimer Park in the Downtown Eastside under a ministerial order driven in large part by concerns the COVID-19 pandemic could spread like wildfire.

Read more: Police arrest dozens of people for refusing to leave camp near CRAB Park

It notes that the Vancouver Board of Parks and recreation has a duty to all park users, including those who are experiencing homelessness, which is describes as a crisis.

It also includes a chart showing there’s been a 625 per cent increase in ranger calls since 2015, a rate that’s surged in lockstep with the growth in the number of temporary structures in parks.

“When temporary structures erected as shelters remain in parks for extended periods of time, particularly if in concentrated numbers, the resulting encampments can impede community use of much needed public green spaces; result in the accumulation of debris and human waste; and create opportunities for increased violence and health risks,” says the report.

While the park board was reluctant to remove campers from Oppenheimer Park, the province announced that the need to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission was of vital importance, so government bought hotels to house 261 people. Others were offered housing at social housing facilities. Not everyone has accepted the accommodations offered.

The report to park board commissioners also emphasizes that “Although the Parks Control By-law does not permit people to remain in parks overnight, or to erect temporary structures, these bylaws have not been enforced as the BC Supreme Court ruled that any bylaws prohibiting homeless people from erecting temporary shelters and sleeping in city parks would be a Charter right violation given the lack of adequate shelter capacity for individuals experiencing homelessness.“

Commissioners will hear a staff presentation and debate the report at a special meeting on July 13 at 6 p.m.

9Jul

Video shows woman being attacked by stranger at SkyTrain station

by admin

VANCOUVER —
Surveillance video obtained by CTV News shows a stranger creep up behind a woman and punch her with such force, she was knocked flat to the ground.

Transit Police confirmed she was attacked just before 10 o’clock the night of May 12, at the Main Street-Science World SkyTrain Station.

The victim is seen approaching the fare gates on Main Street, when a man wearing shorts, T-shirt and a baseball cap comes into frame, winds up and slugs her in the back of head. The woman’s wig and belongings fall to the floor, and then the man is seen taking off.

The next images show the victim getting up and looking bewildered as she collects her possessions off the station floor.

The footage was captured by the security camera of a neighbouring condominium.

“Acts of violence occur all the time in this neighbourhood,” said Patricia Chartrand, who lives in the building at Main and Terminal.

“It’s horrific and shocking. It’s gotten progressively worse, and more and more dangerous.”

“When our kids (are) here, they’re afraid to walk in this area,” said another resident of the building. “Sometime we’re all afraid.”

Witnesses saw the man in the video cross the street moments after the SkyTrain attack and smash the glass of a bus stop stand.

Both Transit Police and the Vancouver Police Department acknowledged issues in the neighbourhood.

“We do have additional officers and resources working that area,” said VPD spokesperson Sgt. Aaron Roed.

Transit Police confirmed they tracked the attacker down and have recommended assault charges. They are also seeking a warrant for his arrest, but so far nothing has been approved by Crown.

That means the man is still at large.

The victim is understandably still shaken but is doing well otherwise.

8Jul

Pride crosswalk defaced by tire tracks in West Vancouver, police say

by admin

VANCOUVER —
West Vancouver police are investigating after they say the department’s new Pride crosswalk was defaced with tire markings.

Police say staff inside the station heard a “loud and sustained” tire squealing on Tuesday afternoon just after 4 p.m. Officers later found that someone had left tire marks across part of the rainbow crosswalk, which is located at 16th Street and Esquimalt Avenue.

The car left the area at a high rate of speed and was not located, according to police.

The vehicle was captured on CCTV footage, and investigators are now looking for a 1999 to 2004 black Ford Mustang. It has red racing stripes on the top and sides, as well as a roof spoiler and hood scoop.

Police believe there were two people inside the car.

“This is very upsetting,” Const. Kevin Goodmurphy said in a statement. “For whatever reason, this person has chosen to leave a gesture of hate on a crosswalk that stands for the exact opposite.”

Goodmurphy says they have had “nothing but support” from the community after the crosswalk was installed and believes that represents the majority.=

Anyone who has information about the incident is asked to contact West Vancouver police at 604-925-7300.

6Jul

Drinking in parks: Decision on Vancouver’s pilot program coming Monday

by admin

VANCOUVER —
The Vancouver Park Board will vote Monday on whether to introduce a pilot program that would allow drinking in some local parks as early as this month.

Park board staff have been looking into idea for several years, but have been pressured to make it a priority in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the pandemic, B.C. health officials have encouraged the public to keep their small social gatherings outdoors in order to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus.

Park board staff will present their plan for a pilot program Monday night.

The proposal designates specific areas within 10 parks where adults would be permitted to consume their own liquor:

  • Fraser River
  • John Hendry (Trout Lake)
  • Harbour Green
  • Locarno Beach
  • Memorial South
  • New Brighton
  • Queen Elizabeth
  • Quilchena
  • Stanley Vanderbilt

The green spaces were picked for their accessibility, amenities and location.

Staff tried to avoid selecting spots with bathing beaches, playgrounds and schools wherever possible.

If approved, drinking would be allowed in specific areas in those parks from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The project could kick off as early as mid-July and run until Thanksgiving weekend.

During the trial, the park board will collect feedback from park rangers, residents and businesses.

Staff will then present a feasibility study which will decide whether or not to allow drinking permanently.

However, the project does face some additional some red tape.

Alcohol is governed by the BC Liquor Control and Licensing Act.

It gives municipalities and regional districts the power to make their decisions about alcohol, but the Vancouver Park Board is neither of those.

It’s now working with the provincial government to amend the act so it can move forward with its decision.

The proposal does not have an exact dollar figure for how much the program will cost, but it is expected to increase operating costs.

Additional park ranger patrols, cleaning, maintenance, signage and education will be needed to run the program.

Those costs will be taken out of the existing park board budget, which will lead to cuts in other areas.

The park board meets Monday at 6:30 p.m.   

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