Saturday, August 1st14.6°C
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One dead in bus crash

UPDATE: 10 p.m. 

The vehicle incident 11 km west of Chase is now clear, in both directions. 


UPDATE: 9:20 p.m. 

Highway 1 is reduced to single lane alternating traffic. Expect delays do to congestion.


UPDATE 7:15 p.m.

One man now is confirmed dead in the collision between a passenger bus carrying dozens of people and a car on a notorious stretch of Highway 1 south of Chase, say police and firefighters.

Lt. David Sakaki of Kamloops Fire Rescue said when he arrived on scene members of Chase Fire Rescue were already responding and a BC Ambulance helicopter had just landed.

"Unfortunately, there was one fatality," he said. "The driver of the vehicle, the lone driver of the vehicle was killed in the incident."

Chase RCMP Const. Brian Blaikie said that a small black car travelling westbound toward Kamloops went into the oncoming lane and hit a private charter bus head-on.

He said first responders are working to extract the deceased man from the vehicle.

"The vehicle spun from the impact and the bus went off-road," said Blaikie.

He said the cause of the crash is not yet known.

Alyshia Higgins with the B.C. Ambulance Service said three people were in serious condition and 20 patients with non-life-threatening injuries were rushed to Royal Inland Hospital.

One air ambulance and six ground ambulances responded, she said.

Michaela Swann, a spokeswoman for Interior Health authority, said they expected as many as 57 people to the hospital, whose injuries range from serious to minor.

The accident happened in the area known as Hoffman's Bluff, a two-lane stretch of road that the provincial government announced earlier this year would be upgraded to four lanes to improve safety through the area.

Rick Berrigan, mayor of Chase, said the stretch is a winding, rock-faced piece of the highway with no residents in the area.

"Hoffman's Bluff has always been a big concern to the travellers on Highway 1," he said.

The government is in the process of widening the highway, but Berrigan didn't know if the crash was in the same spot as the construction.

Berrigan said the highway is extremely busy, especially during the summer.

"It's obviously a very tragic situation. We need that four laning done quick."

Blaikie said Hoffman's Bluff is a well-known location in Chase with a number of collisions every year."

-The Canadian Press


UPDATE: 6:50 p.m.

DriveBC is recommending a detour around Highway 1, which remains closed, via Highway 97 to Highway 97A.

An assessment is in progress although there is no estimated time of reopening the road.


UPDATE: 6 p.m.

A passenger bus carrying dozens of people has been involved in a crash on Highway 1 south of Chase.

The accident between the bus and a car happened about 4 p.m. Friday, at the start of a holiday long-weekend.

Alyshia Higgins with the B.C. Ambulance Service says there are 60 patients, with one in critical condition, and six ambulances and one air ambulance are responding to the scene.

A spokeswoman for Interior Health, Michaela Swann, says Royal Inland Hospital is on alert to receive patients but they haven't initiated what they call a "code orange" yet.

The crash, which is the third to involve a tour bus in B.C.'s Interior in a year, has closed the highway in both directions.

The accident is reported to have happened in the area known as Hoffman's Bluff, a two-lane stretch of road that the provincial government announced earlier this year would be upgraded to four lanes to improve safety through the area.

                                                                    – The Canadian Press


UPDATE: 5:25 p.m.

A spokeswoman with the B.C. Ambulance service says first responders are dealing with 60 patients at the scene of a tour bus crash near Chase.

One person is in critical condition.

Witnesses say a medevac helicopter landed at the scene.

Six ambulances and one air ambulance have responded or are en route to the crash scene.

The Ministry of Transportation says the highway is closed in both directions.

– The Canadian Press


ORIGINAL

The Trans Canada Highway is closed in both directions about 11 kilometres west of Chase, DriveBC reports.

A Castanet reader tells us a tour bus crash is the cause of the closure.

"There has been a serious bus accident between Pritchard and Shuswap Lake. Our son and his family are 20 cars back, and there is a bus across the road. Ambulances and police cars are there," said the source.

Unconfirmed reports have up to 55 people injured in the incident.

No further details are available at this time.

It's not known when the highway will reopen.

Send pictures or video to news@ castanet.net



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Stop Abbotsford

A judge may not be able to solve homelessness, but he could use his powers to bar officials in Abbotsford, from prohibiting camps that provide the necessities of life, a lawyer has argued.

B.C. Supreme Court heard Friday that there's ample evidence that dozens of people living in makeshift tent communities have been subjected to "systemic forced evictions" in the Fraser Valley city.

City officials have dumped chicken manure on campsites, said David Wotherspoon, a lawyer with Pivot Legal Society.

Police have pepper sprayed people's belongings, cut up tents and laid down tree trunks in a series of "displacement tactics," he added.

"We're not asking court to order that housing be provided," Wotherspoon told the judge.

"But what the court can do is tell the City of Abbotsford that if those necessities are not being provided in some other way, they cannot interfere with an individual's efforts to obtain them themselves."

Wotherspoon's assertion comes at the culmination of a five-week trial launched by the Drug War Survivors, who are challenging city bylaws that make it illegal to set up shelters in public spaces.

The group representing the area's homeless contends the city has been consistently violating their charter rights.

A favourable decision would establish a right to public space for homeless people and be a crucial step toward recognizing a right to housing in Canada, according to Pivot, the legal advocacy organization helping the homeless group.

Court heard there were at least 151 homeless in Abbotsford in 2014, people who have been consistently chased from site to site rather than be offered genuine living assistance.

They have been criminalized to the point where there's no place where they won't be breaching the law, Wotherspoon said in his closing arguments.

The city's lawyers have stated multiple facilities are available, but Wotherspoon called the claim a "red herring." Only 25 true beds can be counted, he said.

Some of the city's so-called shelters are actually treatment centres that have a high threshold for admittance, he countered.

"What Abbotsford's goal has really been is to move people out of Abbotsford," he said.

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson told the lawyer there are legal restrictions and other considerations confronting him in the case.

"I have some very serious concerns about perpetuating a situation where there are hundreds of hypodermic needles, human feces, rotting garbage. It's an unhealthy environment," he added from the bench.

"If your clients … aren't able to avoid those kind of problems, giving them carte blanch to stay as long as they like in a location doesn't seem to be an effective answer."

Outside court, a former homeless man of 15 years described his struggles on the street and said he hopes the judge allocates land for people to inhabit.

"I've lived out there. I've been freezing cold where my hands were so numb I had to warm my hands over a candle," said Harvey Clause, 54, who testified at the trial.

"I think we have a chance to do something for people. We do, if the judge is willing to give us a chance."

The trial is scheduled to conclude next week.

The Canadian Press


Mill deaths accidental

A coroner's jury has ruled the deaths of two mill workers caught in a fiery explosion in Burns Lake, more than three years ago were accidental.

Robert Luggi, 45, and Carl Charlie, 42, were working at Babine Forest Products in the community 225 kilometres west of Prince George when the explosion occurred Jan. 20, 2012.

A coroner's jury heard from nearly 50 witnesses over the 13-day inquest held in Burns Lake.

The jury deliberated for two days and made 33 recommendations, while the coroner made an additional eight recommendations.

They suggested that the company install a fire-pumping system at its mill, have a stand-alone first aid facility, that the company ensure compliance with the National Fire Code and that a combustible gas monitor be used when workers report gas odours.

"Testimony showed major gaps in fire code knowledge and inspection requirements," the report read.

The jury also recommended that WorkSafeBC ensure officers have relevant and current training to carry out inspections at wood product manufacturing facilities, and that the agency develop a video or visual presentation to show workers the health and safety hazards of combustible wood dust.

A WorkSafeBC investigation concluded an accumulation of wood dust was a major factor in the blast.

The presiding coroner suggested B.C.'s ministry of justice make sure the fire commissioner's office has the resources needed to inspect industrial facilities across the province on a regular basis and that the Fire Services Act be amended to require fire inspections on unincorporated First Nations land.

Shirley Bond, the minister responsible for labour, released a statement thanking the jury for their recommendations.

"(The jury) recommendations received today will be reviewed and inform the efforts already underway across government to ensure worker safety," she said.

"Government intends to report back in writing to the coroner on the work being done on all of the recommendations."

Lucy Campbell, Charlie's sister, said on the opening day of the inquest that her brother was known for his "incredible smile, great big hugs, handshakes and waves."

She said he had worked at Babine Forest Products for more than 18 years.

Maureen Luggi, the wife of Robert Luggi, described her husband and the father of four as a happy, hard-working guy with a sense of humour.

She said her husband worked at the mill for more than 22 years, had been transferred to a new shift at the start of that year and was training to become a lead hand.

In May, a separate coroner's jury into the April 23, 2012, explosion at Lakeland Mills in Prince George, issued 33 recommendations and also found the deaths of 46-year-old Glenn Roche and 43-year-old Alan Little were accidents.

WorkSafeBC fined Lakeland Mills Ltd. over $700,000 in penalties.

The Crown declined to approve charges in both cases, in part over concerns that evidence collected by WorkSafeBC would not be admissible in court.

The Canadian Press


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Charged with murder

A 22-year-old man from northeastern B.C. has been charged with second-degree murder.

RCMP Cpl. Dave Tyreman says in a news release that police were called to a residence in Fort Nelson Wednesday for reports of a serious assault.

He says the 30-year-old victim was rushed to hospital but died of injuries.

Joshua Dillion has been charged with second-degree murder, remains in custody and is scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 9.

Tyreman says police can't release further details, including the gender of the victim, because of a publication ban.

About 4,000 people live in the community about 950 kilometres southeast of Whitehorse, Yukon.

The Canadian Press


River closures expanded

Drought conditions are forcing the provincial government to ban fishing and impose water restrictions for farms in parts of southern British Columbia in a bid to help fish stocks through a hot, dry summer.

The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations is suspending fishing in streams for most of Vancouver Island because of low flows and high water temperatures.

Beginning on Aug. 4, the only rivers or streams where people will be allowed to fish are the Campbell, Qualicum and Quinsam rivers.

The ministry has also restricted water use on farms in B.C.'s Interior in a bid to help salmon that are expected to begin spawning soon on the Coldwater River south of Merrit, where water levels are low because of dry weather.

Farms drawing water from the river and its tributaries have been told they must restrict their water use between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. until Aug. 11, when they will be prohibited from drawing any water until Sept. 30.

The ministry says the order covers the holders of 50 water licences who use the river for irrigation.

The Fish Protection Act allows the minister to issue orders to temporarily regulate water users if fish populations are threatened.

The provincial government has designated that much of southern B.C. as Drought Level 4, or extremely dry.

The Canadian Press


Heavy metal heist

Mounties in northern B.C. are attempting to dredge up suspects in the theft of a bulldozer, excavator and other equipment worth an estimated $500,000.

Police were called out to a site down a forest service road near Tumbler Ridge on July 15.

RCMP say a drilling company left the equipment at the site last September when it put its operations in the area on hold.

Cpl. Dave Tyreman says the theft happened sometime over those 10 months.

Along with the excavation equipment, two trailers, water pumps and an unknown amount of tools also went missing.

The Catepillar has an estimated value of $232,000, while the Volvo excavator is worth about $200,000.

The Canadian Press


Money for job training

The Splatsin First Nation in the North Okanagan is the latest group to benefit from the Conservative gravy train that has been rolling through the Valley recently.

The latest funding announcement by Okanagan-Shuswap MP Colin Mayes, who will not be running in the fall election, has the Splatsin First Nation receiving a Canada Job Grant to train 37 employees in business management and leadership.

“Training for jobs is critical to the health and well-being of our families and children of Splatsin,” Chief Wayne Christian said.

More than 7,300 workers in British Columbia are receiving training through the Canada Job Grant, and more than 1,400 employers have been approved for funding.

The Canada Job Grant is an employer-driven approach to help Canadians gain the skills and training they need to fill available jobs. It is designed to be flexible to meet the needs of businesses of all sizes, in all industries and regions. By requiring employers to invest in training costs, the grants result in training that leads to guaranteed employment.

Up to two-thirds of the grant is contributed by the government to a maximum of $10,000, with the remaining portion contributed by the employer. The grant covers tuition/training fees, mandatory student fees, textbooks, software and other required training materials, as well as examination fees.

Earlier this week, Mayes announced the Cedar Heights Community Association is getting $10,000 through the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program to replace exterior signage.

The Cherryville Community Club will receive just over $3,000 to replace the playground at Hansen Park, and the Eagle Valley Snowmobile Club will receive $2,000 to improve avalanche condition signage near Sicamous.

The Tories also gave $25,000 to the Salmon Arm Curling Club for water system work, while the Vernon Curling Club was handed $23,000 to replace its roof.



Former top cop's new gig

Former Vancouver police chief Jim Chu has moved from crime fighting to private enterprise.

Chu has joined the Aquilini Investment Group as vice-president of special projects and partnerships.

An announcement from the company says he will ensure safety standards are upheld and meaningful partnerships are developed with First Nations across B.C., in relation to various agricultural, energy and development projects.

The 36-year police veteran retired this spring after just over seven years as Vancouver's first non-white chief constable.

President of Aquilini Development and Construction, David Negrin, says Chu's proven leadership experience, prominence in the community, and business acumen make him an ideal candidate for the job.

Vancouver-based AIG is best known as the owner of the NHL Vancouver Canucks, but the family-run business also includes everything from commercial, industrial and residential construction to sustainable agriculture, renewable energy projects and food, beverage and hospitality enterprises.

The Canadian Press


Taser cop a 'scapegoat'

The wife of an RCMP officer who killed himself two years ago claims that her husband was used by the Mounties a scapegoat in the death of Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver's airport in October 2007.

In a statement of claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court, Sheila Lemaitre said her husband, Pierre, was told he would lose his job if he tried to correct misinformation given to the media about the night Dziekanski died.

The sergeant was the media relations officer who released information about the incident where the Polish immigrant was jolted with a police Taser and died on the floor of the arrivals area.

The lawsuit claimed Lemaitre wanted to correct the information, but was ordered not to say anything.

"As a result of this incorrect information, his immediate removal as RCMP spokesman, the subsequent public release of the private video ... he was brought into public contempt where he was accused in the public of being the 'RCMP liar' and/or the RCMP spin doctor," the statement said.

The bystander video released after the Dziekanski confrontation with police was much different that the original version of events given to media by RCMP.

In fact, the four officers involved were later charged with perjury for testimony they gave at the public inquiry looking into the death.

The officers were all tried separately and two were convicted, while two were acquitted.

Corp. Kwesi Millington was given 30 months in prison by a judge in June. Benjamin "Monty" Robinson was sentenced last week to two years in jail for lying to the inquiry.

The judge in Robinson's case said the former officer's actions damaged the reputation of the RCMP and undermined confidence in the once-trusted institution.

The statement of claim said the RCMP knew Lemaitre was under extreme psychological distress caused by the negligence of the force and that it could result in his becoming suicidal.

"Conduct of the RCMP and/or members of the RCMP with respect to the events following the (airport) incident was either intended to or allowed Sgt. Lemaitre to become the 'scapegoat' for the public criticism of the RCMP with respect to the incident on Oct. 14, 2007," the lawsuit stated.

None of the allegations have been proven in court and an RCMP spokesman said it wouldn't be appropriate to make any official comment on a matter that is subject to a civil proceeding.

The court document outlined that Lemaitre was transferred to a job described as an RCMP "dumping ground," that he was treated for post-traumatic stress disorder, and became depressed, angry, full of rage.

He went on sick-leave in February 2013 and "committed suicide" on July 13, 2013, the document stated.

The statement of claim alleged an RCMP chaplain took control of the funeral arrangements, determining which songs could be played, and said that it was an "absolute requirement" that he "vet" all of the eulogies.

Lamaitre's wife was told on the day before the funeral that she could not give a eulogy herself, and when she asked who was giving that order, the chaplain said "You know who signs my cheques," said the statement.

Sheila Lemaitre and their two daughters are suing for loss of love, guidance and companionship of their husband and father.

No specific dollar figure is mentioned in the lawsuit, but the statement says the family is seeking damages from both the Federal Attorney General and the B.C. Ministry of Justice that are liable for the RCMP actions.

The Canadian Press


No transgender protection

When rainbow flags and noisy revellers fill Vancouver's Davie Street for the city's annual Pride Parade on Sunday, there's one political leader who will be conspicuously absent: Premier Christy Clark.

The British Columbia Liberals have refused to sign a pledge that calls for new legislation to protect transgender people, as required by organizers, and therefore will not be allowed to march. Clark has said that B.C.'s Human Rights Code already ensures equality for all.

In fact, B.C. is among only a few provinces that have not amended their human rights legislation to provide specific protections for transgender people. Since 2012, six provinces — including Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan — and one territory have moved to do so.

"You'd think B.C. would maybe have some shame that it's not working to support human rights while the rest of Canada is," said Spencer Chandra Herbert, an Opposition New Democrat member of the legislature.

Chandra Herbert has tried three times to introduce a bill to add "gender identity, and gender expression" to the Human Rights Code's list of banned forms of discrimination, which already includes sex, race and sexual orientation.

"It's five words and a comma," he said. "It wouldn't cost the government anything to do and it would make a world of difference for transgender people."

The Vancouver Pride Society announced in May that it would require parade participants to sign a transgender equality pledge. The document declares the signee supports new federal and provincial legislation to protect transgender and gender-variant people from discrimination.

Justice Minister Suzanne Anton said on Thursday that B.C.'s Human Rights Code is interpreted to include transgender people. Specifically, she pointed to section 3, which includes the promotion of "a climate of understanding and mutual respect where all are equal in dignity and rights."

"The law is crystal clear — transgendered people are protected — and I urge all British Columbians to recognize and accept the diversity of all people and to treat them with the respect they deserve," she said in an emailed statement.

Cheri DiNovo, an Ontario New Democrat, said specific legal protections are needed. She attempted to amend the province's human rights code five times before Ontario became the first in Canada to include "gender identity" and "gender expression" in 2012.

She called the B.C. Liberals' stance "regrettable," pointing to statistics that show about half of transgender people attempt suicide.

"The next suicide could be prevented. And you could do it by enshrining rights for everyone in your human rights code," she said.

Manitoba's legislature unanimously passed similar legislation soon after Ontario in 2012. Former Justice Minister Andrew Swan said he found it "very necessary" to ensure specific protections for transgender people.

Swan, who is still a New Democrat member of the legislature, said he was concerned at the time the human rights tribunal or independent adjudicators could toss out a legitimate complaint.

"I was fearful they could look at the law and say, 'I'm sorry, this person is not entitled to protection under the Human Rights Code.' I didn't want to wait for that to happen," he said.

Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador and the Northwest Territories all explicitly include "gender identity" in their human rights legislation. Alberta recently included the term in its Bill of Rights, but not its Human Rights Act, which is more broadly applied.

Federal New Democrat MP Randall Garrison's transgender rights bill died in the Senate earlier this year.

The Canadian Press


No sunshine tax in gas price

Okanagan residents often complain about the "sunshine tax" when it comes to the cost of living in our area, especially when it comes to the price of gasoline.

But an industry watchdog has another explanation – despite the fact retailers in the Okanagan have higher profit margins than elsewhere.

“There are many tourist destinations across the country, not perhaps as beautiful as the Okanagan, but I would say it is fundamentals that are keeping these prices up and the shortage in Edmonton, the shortage of supply,” says Dan McTeague, senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy.com.

This supply shortage has left the Interior feeling the pinch, while McTeague is predicting a price drop on the B.C. coast.

“You have higher wholesale prices for gasoline in your market, mostly because of the shortages, which oil companies aren't required to disclose,” explains McTeague.

“There have been three incidents in the past three weeks, all of which had an affect on the three refineries in Edmonton, one or another, which has helped keep upward pressure on prices, whereas Vancouver is not exposed to that market.”

Vancouver, on the other hand, gets its gas from other refineries at the coast.

“This is a problem we face, from the B.C. Interior all the way out to Thunder Bay in the east. What happens with refineries in Edmonton and the smaller one in Saskatchewan does affect prices one way or another,” says McTeague.

“If you have higher demand in the States and Canada, and lower supply, prices have to go up. Which is currently being made worse by a combination of a weaker Canadian dollar, because all fuel is priced in U.S. terms, and of course higher taxes.”

He says if you were to break down the price of a barrel of oil, usually the benchmark is at $50/barrel, which works out to about 40 cents/litre – much lower than the wholesale prices currently being felt in Kelowna, Kamloops and Edmonton, which sits at the 75-78 cents/litre range.

“It explains why prices are as high as they are. If you want it, you have to pay for it – and that is why consumers are paying as much as they are on gasoline,” says McTeague.

“Over the last 10 to 15 years now, we have seen retail margins whittled down. They don't go up because it is summer and a lot of tourists show up. Kelowna has always been high and Kamloops has always been more competitive, but both right now are suffering from high wholesale prices as a result of the shortage in refinery capacity provided by Edmonton and aggravated by the weakness in Canadian dollar – which, denies us being able to take advantage of our local crude prices.”

He says while Kamloops has traditionally seen one of the lowest retail margins in the country, Kelowna was also known for having one of the highest – but all that has changed.

“Retail margins traditionally in a market like Kamloops were two or three cents a litre, which is hardly enough to turn your pumps on, taking into consideration a gas station has to take on honouring credit cards, which costs them two cents a litre,” explains McTeague.

“Whereas, Kelowna has always had very generous margins, above the average at 10-13 cents a litre owing to a lack of competition among retailers, and generally speaking, lack of incentive to bring those prices down.”

But, high wholesale prices are changing the game, and now Kamloops stations have moved to a seven cents a litre retail margin, while Kelowna remains at 12 cents a litre.

Comparatively, major markets across the country maintain a retail margin of nine cents a litre, including Vancouver and Toronto.

“The aggravating issue here is not anything less than the significance of having a refinery shortage or supply shortage as a result of the refinery disruptions in Edmonton,” says McTeague.

“The curious thing is that no one is talking about it, none of the so-called experts are mentioning this, but it is perhaps the most important factor in sustaining prices as high as they are considering where oil is at,” says McTeague.

“The irony for me, as a former member of Parliament, is that I predicted this would happen. Canada continues to shut down refineries and allow mergers and acquisitions in the downstream of the oil industry, which would eventually wind up, given the shortage of supply and given we are net importers of gasoline, paying a premium for,” adds McTeague.

“Entirely predictable, but unfortunately that fell on deaf ears.”

Thursday afternoon, gas prices are hovering around 131.9 in Kelowna, 127.9 in Penticton, 120.9 in Vernon and 125.9 in Kamloops, compared with an average of 134.9 in Vancouver and a national average of 115.7.



KVR trail improvements

The Kettle Valley Rail Trail between Oliver and Osoyoos is slated for improvements in the next few years.

Okanagan-Coquihalla MP Dan Albas joined RDOS representatives and others on Road 22, Thursday to announce the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program has made available $124,600 for the project.

“A healthy community requires the necessary outdoor spaces to ensure that the community is able to stay fit and active," Albas said. "The updates to the Kettle Valley Rail Trail will help foster an energized and positive community.”

The Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program will provide $150 million over two years to be delivered by regional agencies across the country. It is part of the federal government's programs to honour Canada's 150th anniversary of confederation in 2017.

The funding received by the RDOS will assist it in connecting key sections of the existing trail providing residents and visitors to the region with a continuous recreation and commuter corridor in the South Okanagan. 

RDOS Chair Mark Pendergraft thanked Albas and the federal government.

"Small areas like A and C couldn't afford to do this on their own," he said. "And I suspect this will see a lot of use."

He added that a lot of work has been done on the KVR Trail on the northern end of the valley, so it's good to see work happening in the south.

The RDOS will do a formal design of the project in 2016, with construction expected in 2017, if not sooner.

To learn more about the regional trails program go to: www.clickhikebike.com



Blaze guts four businesses

Four businesses were destroyed by fire in downtown Port Coquitlam, Thursday.

The fire started in a barbershop on Shaughnessy Street about 7 a.m.

“It migrated from there through the ceiling into the other four businesses,” Fire Chief Nick Delmonico told CTV.

The barbershop, a consignment store, optometrist and men's fashion store were gutted.

“What can you do? Nothing,” Little Eye Shop owner Joel Rothman said. “I guess just get back at it.”

It's not believed anyone was injured in the blaze.

Giggle Dam dinner theatre owner Sheila Sharma said the loss of her neighbouring businesses is a blow to the community.

“These are small businesses here, and they’ve been a staple of Port Coquitlam for a long time, so I’m totally devastated for them,” Sharma told CTV.

Firefighters were still putting out hot spots into the afternoon.

– with files from CTV Vancouver



Port Mann tolls on way up

Drivers will soon pay more to cross the Port Mann Bridge.

Starting Aug. 15, passenger vehicles (pickups, SUVs and cars) will pay an additional 15 cents per bridge crossing, or $3.15.

For Lower Mainland commuters who cross the river twice each day, that amounts to an increase of $109.50 a year.

The cost for commercial trucks and motorhomes increases from $9 to $9.45.

The Crown corporation that manages the bridge says the increase is required to keep up with costs associated with operating and maintaining the project, and to repay the span's construction debt. 

The money-losing toll bridge is an $80-million black hole for the province each year.

“TReO's toll rates need to increase from time to time to keep up with the cost of building, operating and maintaining the bridge and Highway 1 improvements,” a statement from TReO parent company TI Corp. reads.

The company insists the increases are not intended to create a profit.

– with files from CTV Vancouver





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