Terrifying escalator incident

A Calgary woman is reminding parents about the dangers of escalators after her toddler's foot became stuck in one and he broke his leg.

Andrea Diaczek says she was holding her two-year-old son's hand as they rode down an escalator at the Vancouver International Airport on Friday.

She says the toe of his boot brushed the edge of the escalator and his foot was sucked inside.

She screamed, someone stopped the escalator and she used scissors to cut him free from his mangled boot.

She says Julian also has some cuts and swelling but is otherwise OK.

A statement from the airport says safety is a priority and it is investigating.


Helpless to stop house fire

Residents battled flames themselves before fleeing to safety from a house fire in New Westminster Monday night.

The fire broke out about 10 p.m. in the Sapperton area of the city.

Neighbour Dre Weiss said he saw flames coming up the side of the house and alerted the occupants.

"I just ran up the steps and started pounding on the door," he told CTV.

The residents were already trying to fight the fire themselves, but gave up when they realized how quickly it was spreading.

Firefighters doused the flames, but not before the older home was gutted.

It's believed the fire may have started in a garbage can outside the home.

– with files from CTV Vancouver

Ban ocean fish farms?

A Washington senator says he wants to see British Columbia join the state in phasing out ocean-based Atlantic salmon farms when the province decides whether to renew farm leases in June.

An American ban will be less effective in the shared ecosystem of the Salish Sea if fish farms continue to operate in Canadian waters, said Democrat Sen. Kevin Ranker.

The Washington state senate and house of representatives have recently passed bills that would phase out net-pen farms when their leases come up for renewal over the next seven years.

"The salmon, the orca whale, the ecosystem doesn't recognize the international boundary," Ranker said.

"So what we have to do is manage our transboundary region in a responsible way. And I hope Washington state will pass this legislation and move in this direction and I hope that British Columbia will do the same."

Each bill passed with about a two-thirds majority. Now the senate and the house are considering each other's proposed laws.

The bills are expected to pass into law when approved by both the house and the senate.

The house bill also calls for an industry study to be submitted to the legislature by Nov. 1, 2019.

The move to phase out fish farms comes after hundreds of thousands of Atlantic salmon escaped last summer from a farm in Washington state, owned by Canadian company Cooke Aquaculture.

A state review of the farm found the net failed because it was weighed down by 100 tonnes of mussels and debris, due to insufficient maintenance.

Some First Nations and environmentalists in B.C. have protested net-pen fish farms, saying they spread viruses and diseases to wild salmon stocks.

Farm-raised salmon is B.C.'s top agricultural export. There are more than ten times as many fish farms in British Columbia than Washington state.

Jeremy Dunn, spokesman for the B.C. Salmon Farmers Association, said the senator may not be aware of Canadian regulations that govern things like containment.

"From a regulatory perspective, that's an entirely different country and we have a different regime here," Dunn said.

"And let's not forget that salmon farming in B.C. is worth more than a billion and a half dollars to our economy. It's a well-managed business that supports 6,600 jobs and has done so for many years and has a great future here supported by world-leading science."

The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development is responsible for the tenure renewal process in B.C., while the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans is responsible for aquaculture licensing.

Natural Resources Minister Doug Donaldson said in a statement that the B.C. government is committed to protecting wild salmon and the nearly 10,000 jobs that depend on it, and is working with First Nations, the aquaculture industry and the federal government.

"What we all agree on is the importance of protecting wild salmon for the cultural and economic benefits it brings to B.C.," Donaldson said.

Federal fisheries minister Dominic LeBlanc was not immediately available for an interview.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee was also unavailable for an interview, but his deputy communications director Tara Lee said in an email that he supports the phase out of net pens for non-native fish.

He believes that a phase out is crucial for wild salmon recovery and tribal treaty rights, Lee said.

However, Inslee believes it's up to British Columbia's government to decide what is best for the province, she added.


BC budget day is here

It's budget day in B.C. and New Democrat Finance Minister Carole James says her financial plan will look much different than those put forward by the previous Liberal government.

James bucked tradition yesterday, opting to read a children's book to three- and four-year-olds at a child-care centre instead of buying a new pair of shoes.

She says for 16 years the former Liberal government didn't share the wealth, but that will change with this budget.

Last week, the government's throne speech promised historic investments in both housing and child care, aimed at making life more affordable for B.C. residents.

James wouldn't say if her budget will be balanced, but the government has already spent big money on election promises such as dropping tolls on two Metro Vancouver bridges, and financial difficulties at the publicly owned Insurance Corp. of B.C. could create financial pressure.

Late last year, James forecasted a reduced surplus of $190 million for the fiscal year, with 2.9 per cent economic growth.

Gettin' cold on the coast

The Lower Mainland could be in store for some frigid temperatures, the likes they are not used to.

Meteorologist Cindy Yu told CTV Vancouver temperatures could plummet to record-setting levels this week.

"We are expecting much colder than normal temperatures for at least the next three to five days," said Yu.

"The cold is really here to stay."

Vancouver is expected to have an overnight low of -4C tonight, with the mercury dipping to -5 the next two nights before warming slightly.

Daytime highs are forecast to rise above zero.

Here in the Okanagan, the overnight temperature in both Kelowna and Vernon could drop as low as -19C tonight with temperatures of -16 in Penticton.

Overnight temperatures are expected to remain in the double digits in the Okanagan through Thursday.



Groped outside high school

A woman was groped on a walking track at Seaquam Secondary School in Delta, Monday.

The victim was walking on the track about 10:15 a.m. when she was groped from behind. 

The woman suffered a minor injury, and her attacker fled on foot.

A police dog was unable to track the man.

The school was placed on lockdown to protect students while police investigated.

– with files from CTV Vancouver

Pre-budget story time

B.C.'s finance minister shelved the tradition of buying new shoes to present her budget in favour of reading a story Monday to a group of three- and four-year-old youngsters at a Victoria child care centre.

Carole James said her husband has promised to shine up her favourite pair of shoes for Tuesday's budget, giving her time to read "Pete the Cat" to an attentive group of children.

James said Pete's feline adventures hiking through strawberry fields and mud puddles in white sneakers are somewhat similar to her budget because the journey ends well.

"I think, as you saw in the story, no matter what, it'll all be good in the end," James told reporters attending her pre-budget news conference.

She wouldn't comment directly on whether the budget will be balanced.

Late last year, James forecast a reduced surplus of $190 million for the 2017-2018 budget. But she said economic growth was forecast at 2.9 per cent.

She said tax revenues were down and costs associated with fighting last year's wildfires continued to increase, and were estimated to go beyond $550 million.

The minority New Democrat government's election promises to drop tolls on two Metro Vancouver bridges and cut medical services premiums by 50 per cent are expected to impact the bottom line. Financial difficulties at ICBC. and a rate freeze at B.C. Hydro also place pressure on the budget.

Liberal jobs critic Jas Johal said he wants a budget that respects taxpayers.

"I'm not sure how they are going to pay for all that," he said. "I don't want the province to fall into deficit."

James said her choice of a child-care centre for a pre-budget news conference was more than symbolic because her budget will aim to make life more affordable for B.C. families, with a large focus on child care.

Shot to death: targeted

A murder victim found in a vehicle with gunshot wounds has been identified by police as a 45-year-old man from Burnaby.

Police are saying his death is a homicide and believe the murder was targeted.

Coquitlam RCMP received numerous calls of shots fired in the area of Sylvan Place and Riverview Crescent Friday night, just after 10 p.m.

Officers found Donald Kelly inside the vehicle. He was taken to hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries.

The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team is trying to determine Kelly’s activities leading up to the homicide.

Shortly after the gunshots were heard, police were notified about a burning dark-coloured sedan located about two kilometres away, on Mariner Way.

“Investigators have determined that the burned vehicle was a 2018 grey Chrysler 300 and would like to speak with anyone that has information about it,” said Cpl. Frank Jang.

Police said there is no evidence to link the death to other recent homicides or reported acts of violence. 

Coquihalla now open

UPDATE 12:14 a.m.

One lane of the Coquihalla is now open highway 5 southbound. The vehicle incident which happened overnight has now been cleared at exit 202, the Portia Interchange is now clear. There ares still volume delays and you are advised to use caution when travelling today.

UPDATE 6:50 a.m.

Southbound Highway 5, south of Merritt, remains closed at this hour. DriveBC now says they do not anticipate the highway will reopen until 2 p.m.

The highway has been closed most of the night at Merritt Exit 286, because of vehicle incident at Portia Exit 202. 

Alternate routes from Merritt are Highway 8, to Highway 1 or Highway 5A to Highway 3.

ORIGINAL 5:28 a.m.

More driving woes Monday morning.

Highway 5 southbound is closed at Merritt Exit 286, because of a vehicle incident at Portia Exit 202.

Emergency crews are on scene assessing the situation right now.

There is an alternate route from Merritt on Highway 8, to Highway 1 or Highway 5A to Highway 3.

No estimated time of opening.

Jail fight over 'solitary'

The federal government is appealing a B.C. court decision that struck down Canada's law on indefinite solitary confinement, arguing it needs clarity on the issue from the courts.

The ruling was handed down last month following a constitutional challenge by British Columbia Civil Liberties Association and the John Howard Society of Canada.

The association's executive director, Josh Paterson, said the appeal is a surprise.

"We find it shocking that our federal government has chosen to appeal this decision when the government came into office on a promise to put an end to indefinite solitary confinement," he said in a news release.

Justice Peter Leask of the B.C. Supreme Court said in his Jan. 17 decision that indefinite segregation undermines the safety and security of inmates, staff and the public.

The Crown argued the practice was reasonable and necessary, but the judge accepted the association's position that solitary confinement is cruel, inhumane and can lead to severe psychological trauma.

The ruling was suspended for 12 months to give the federal government time to draft new legislation, which Leask said must include strict time limits on segregation.

Following the decision, Paterson said the civil liberties association wrote to the federal ministers of justice and public safety seeking an end to further court action.

"Having won in court, we extended a hand to the government to work together to fix this problem to no avail," he said. "Despite us reaching out, to date, the federal government has given us no response other than filing this appeal."

After Leask's judgment, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said the government was reviewing it and was "committed to addressing the needs of the most vulnerable in the federal correctional system."

On Monday, Goodale's office said an appeal in the case is necessary as it examines the B.C. decision and a separate ruling from a court in Ontario.

The decision from Ontario Superior Court Justice Frank Marrocco released in December found administrative segregation longer than five days is unconstitutional, but the practice itself does not violate constitutional rights, even when applied to young inmates or the mentally ill.

"Given the (Canadian Civil Liberties Association) has filed a notice of appeal in Ontario it was only prudent for us to file a similar notice in B.C. as we begin to seek juridical clarity on the issue," Goodale's office said.

"In the meantime we have introduced new legislation ... to limit the use of administrative segregation and implement a system of independent oversight."

He beat puppy to death

A Vancouver Island man has been sentenced to jail for fatally beating a four-month-old puppy.

The BC chapter of the SPCA says Robert Carolan of Duncan was handed a sentence of four months and is banned from owning animals for 10 years.

He has also been placed on probation for three years.

SPCA spokeswoman Marcie Moriarty says in a news release that necropsy results for the mixed-breed puppy show it had suffered blunt force trauma to its head and right rib.

Probable cause of death was listed as related to the rib injury, which stopped the puppy from fully inflating its lungs.

The SPCA's investigation found Carolan claimed the puppy accidentally drowned after he placed it in a bathtub and left the room, but the society says Carolan could not explain the dog's other significant injuries.

Moriarty says jail time was warranted in this case.

"It is heartbreaking to think of how much this poor puppy suffered and the terror he would have experienced before succumbing to his injuries," she says in the release.

Wine war trade challenge

B.C. is challenging Alberta's ban on B.C. wines through the Canadian Free Trade Agreement.

Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology Bruce Ralston announced the move Monday in support of the province's wine producers.

The challenge will be made through the CFTA dispute settlement process.

"B.C.'s wine industry is an important contributor to our economy, creating good jobs and other economic benefits," Ralston said in a press release. "We're standing by our wine producers and the communities that rely on this important industry by launching a formal trade dispute, and we are confident we will be successful."

It will be the first formal dispute to occur under the new CFTA.

"Alberta's actions threaten the livelihood of the families that have worked so hard to build B.C.'s world-class wine industry," Ralston said. "These actions are inconsistent with Alberta's obligations under the CFTA, and we will protect our reputation and the interests of British Columbians."

The province is also expanding opportunities for small and medium producers to get their products on B.C. liquor store shelves, and additional funding is being provided to market B.C. VQA wines to new international markets.

  • B.C.'s wine industry employs about 12,000 people, and has an economic impact of $2.8 billion annually on the province.
  • B.C. is home to 929 vineyards, including over 350 licensed wineries.
  • There are just under 3,900 hectares of wine grapes grown in B.C.
  • The top markets for B.C. wine in 2016 were China (54 per cent), Taiwan (23 per cent) and the United States (11 per cent).

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