Survivors granted access

Survivors of a fiery plane crash just outside Vancouver's international airport have won access to an audio recording of what was happening in the cockpit before their aircraft plummeted from the sky.

In a decision released Friday for on ongoing legal action, Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson of the B.C. Supreme Court said granting access to the cockpit voice recorder serves a public good that outweighs any confidentiality concerns.

Hinkson ordered the Transportation Safety Board to provide the recording to the survivors and Northern Thunderbird Air Inc. after concluding it contained no "sensational or disturbing" communication.

In October 2011, a twin-engine plane carrying two pilots and seven passengers turned back shortly after taking off from Vancouver, only to crash about a kilometre short of the runway, clipping a car in rush-hour traffic and slamming into a lamppost.

All the passengers were seriously injured and both pilots died in hospital.

A Transportation Safety Board report released two years later concluded the accident likely resulted from a loose oil cap on the plane's left engine.


Deadly chemicals in drugs

Dangerous chemicals have again been found in street-level drugs in B.C.

According to the RCMP, recent Health Canada tests confirmed the presence of the compound W-18 and a fentanyl analog in two communities. Police warn chemicals may be present anywhere.

Health Canada confirmed the presence of W-18, a synthesized drug used for pain control,  in a heroin sample seized in Surrey in December. 

Tests also reveal a baggie of cocaine seized by West Shore RCMP on Vancouver Island last May contained fentanyl.

At the time of the seizure, there were three overdoses in that community.

Police continue to receive confirmation of fentanyl, fentanyl derivatives and other potent chemicals in drug seizures around the province.

“These lab results are once again prompting us to warn illicit drug users that it doesn’t matter where you buy your drugs, or who you get them from, the danger is the same if you’re in the big city or in a small community. I cannot stress that enough – there is no safe haven," said Asst. Commissioner Jim Gresham, head of the B.C. RCMP’s Investigative Services on Organized Crime.

"You must be aware that at any time, dangerous and potentially lethal drugs may be present in what you're consuming," he warned.

'The Big One' unlikely

A series of small earthquakes off Vancouver Island in recent days likely aren't a precursor of bigger shake ups to come, but are a reminder of the complex geological zones along coastal British Columbia, says a federal seismolgist.

The U.S. Geological Survey reported a magnitude 4.9 quake occurred Friday morning off Vancouver Island, while a 4.2 quake was recorded on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state on Thursday.

Wednesday, there was a 4.4 temblor off western Vancouver Island and a 4.2 quake in Washington State, southwest of Seattle.

"That area has already been known to us to be very seismically active," Honn Kao, a Natural Resources Canada research scientist, said Friday. "Having earthquakes in that particular location is not very much of a surprise to us. What happens at that place is it is a techtonically very complicated region."

There were no reports of damage or injury in any of the recent earthquakes.

On average, Kao said there's an earthquake in the same area every few days, but they are much too small to feel.

In 2014, there was a 6.4 magnitude quake in Nootka Sound on the central west coast of Vancouver Island and Kao said residents reported feeling motion like they were on a swing.

He said Friday's quake was in the Pacific Ocean, 158 kilometres southwest of Port Hardy on Vancouver Island, in an earthquake zone where three geological plates meet.

The movements of the North American, Juan de Fuca and Explorer plates result in regular earthquakes, he said.

Kao said it is not likely the recent earthquakes are connected to each other, noting the distances between them are too great.

Seismologists predict the movements of the Juan de Fuca and North American plates will one day result in a major earthquake on much of the West Coast, including Vancouver Island. But Kao said these quakes likely aren't a sign of stronger shaking to come.

"At this moment, we really do not have enough knowledge to predict how the big one can happen and when it is going to happen," he said.

Kao said he agrees with the forecasts of seismologists who say the odds of the major earthquake and tsunami hitting the West Coast within the next 50 years are one-in-10.

The last major mega-thrust earthquake to occur off Vancouver Island struck more than 300 years ago on Jan. 26, 1700.

Seismologists say the magnitude 9 earthquake caused violent shaking for several minutes, followed by a tsunami wave that destroyed much of the western side of Vancouver Island.

About nine hours later, a tsunami the height of a four-storey building hit the Japanese coast on Jan. 27, 1700, destroying all in its path.

Death not suspicious

UPDATE: 3:35 p.m.

Vancouver Police confirm the death of a woman found on the grounds of David Thompson Secondary school is not suspicious.

A resident walking in the area about noon Friday located the body in the garden area of the school grounds. Paramedics pronounced the woman deceased at the scene. 

ORIGINAL: 1:20 p.m.

Police in Vancouver have discovered a woman's body on a high school property.

Vancouver police are investigating the southwest corner of David Thompson Secondary School, at East 55th Avenue and Argyle Street.

Detectives are currently determining if the death is suspicious or not, but police say, based on initial information, they do not believe the public is as risk.

Today is a professional day at Vancouver schools, so no students were in classes when the discovery was made.  

Third logging fatality

A logging truck driver was killed last week near Fort St. John when his truck failed to negotiate a curve and rolled.

The BC Forest Safety Council reports that on Feb 16, the driver was fatally injured north of Fort St John, in poor road and weather conditions.

The Coroners Service and RCMP are investigating.

This was the third harvesting fatality of 2017, the safety council says.

It recommends industry workers assess road conditions and suspend or delay work if necessary.

Charged in wife's murder

Burnaby police have identified a man arrested for murder as the victim's husband.

Parveen Mann, 47, was arrested shortly after RCMP responded to a 911 call from a woman on the 7900 block of 18th Avenue.

When police arrived at the home, the 47-year-old woman was found dead, having succumbed to injuries sustained in an altercation.

Mann, the woman's husband, has been charged with second-degree murder and remains in custody.

The couple's two young children were not home when their mother was killed. They are now in the care of other family members.

“This family is attempting to deal with this loss as best as they can in these initial stages,” said Cpl. Meghan Foster of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team. “This senseless act has left a gaping hole in a family, and two young kids without their mother.”

Police have asked anyone with information on the death to call the IHIT information line at 1-877-551-4448. 

Huge crack opens at Site C

BC Hydro has confirmed that a 400-metre crack has appeared in the ground near the Site C hydroelectric project in northeastern British Columbia.

In a news release, Hydro says the crack is by a road built to truck away unstable soil before work begins on the foundation for the proposed dam across the Peace River, west of Fort St. John.

According to Hydro, such cracks, called tension cracks, are not unexpected, but the length of the fissure that first appeared on Feb. 18 means it requires further monitoring.

The public utility and its contractor have installed instruments to measure stability around the crack, and geotechnical specialists are examining the fracture.

While that is happening, Hydro says 30 road-construction workers have been reassigned to other duties.

The BC Hydro release says while there was some initial movement of soil, it has now stabilized and the next step will be to determine how to carefully continue to remove soil so that the slope remains stable.

Office sit-in must end

The chief of the Gitwangak Band says the courts have ordered an end to an occupation of the band's office, about 100 kilometres north of Terrace.

Chief Frederick Johnson made the comment following a B.C. Supreme Court ruling in Terrace on Thursday.

Johnson says he regrets having to take legal action, but the group of hereditary chiefs and other protesters left no other choice.

Demonstrators occupied the band's office on Dec. 15., originally because of what they claimed was council's attempt to control the operation of the Gitwangak Education Society.

Their demands grew to include removal of the band manager, resignation of the chief and council and the severing of ties with the Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.

In his ruling ordering the occupiers out, Justice Robert Punnett found they had trespassed in the band office and went beyond mere protest by attempting to oust the legitimately elected council. 

Big blaze destroys store

UPDATE: 8:40 a.m.

The furniture store fire broke out at about 2 a.m. Friday morning and was possibly started by a fire that began in a truck parked behind the building. 

Firefighters said there was no way to save the building by the time they arrived on scene, and they could only focus on keeping it from spreading to nearby businesses. 

No one was hurt in the blaze. 

ORIGINAL: 6 a.m.

Fire destroyed a furniture store in Burnaby overnight.

The massive blaze gutted QIC New and Used Furniture at 5549 Imperial St., in the Metrotown area.

Burnaby firefighters were fighting the massive blaze, which appears to have broken out early this morning.

It's not known what caused the two-alarm fire, or if anyone has been hurt in the blaze.

Flames were shooting high into the air as of 3 a.m.

- With files from CTV Vancouver

No love for Trump Tower

The furies unleashed by Donald Trump's rise to the U.S. presidency are shaking Vancouver, where a gleaming new Trump International Hotel and Tower is about to open.

The mayor wants its name changed. A city councilman calls it "over the top, glitz and glamor" that clashes with Canadian values. And the property developer who built it sounds traumatized by the whole affair.

The 69-storey building designed by one of Canada's most renowned architects has drawn praise for its sleek, twisting design. Prices for the condominiums have set records.

But Trump's politics, especially his criticism of immigrants, has caused such outrage that the mayor won't attend the grand opening next week. Even the Malaysian developer has had second thoughts about the partnership.

Joo Kim Tiah, who, like the U.S. president, is the son of a prominent businessman who got into global real estate, said he found it "extremely stressful" when Trump's statements about Muslims, Mexicans and women, among other things, made him extremely unpopular in Vancouver, one of the world's most diverse and progressive cities. Unfortunately, it was well after he signed the licensing deal to use the Trump brand.

"I was terrified," Joo Kim of Holborn Development told The Associated Press. "The people who ran the city were not happy with me. I was scared, but I think they understand. They understand that I'm trapped into — not trapped, locked into — an agreement."

The developer said he would have had no legal grounds to back out of the licensing deal, the terms of which have not been publicly released. "There would be severe legal implications," he said.

The hotel and residence will have its grand opening on Tuesday, with Trump sons Donald Jr. and Eric in attendance.

Located along an upscale six-lane downtown thoroughfare, the tower is the second-tallest in Vancouver and offers majestic mountain and ocean views.

The Canadian project has generated much more debate, however, because of its location in a place that prides itself on multiculturalism. Forty-eight per cent of Vancouver's residents are foreign born.

Mayor Gregor Robertson, among others, has urged the developer to drop the Trump name. "Trump's name and brand have no more place on Vancouver's skyline than his ignorant ideas have in the modern world," he said in a letter.

City councilman Kerry Jang said the tower, which he calls a "beacon of racism ... intolerance, sexism and bullying," is out of place not just because of the views of the person whose name adorns it but for a style that he said clashes with low-key Canada. "It represents a brand that's over the top, glitz and glamor," Jang said. "It's not our thing. "

British Columbia Premier Christy Clark also said the Trump name doesn't represent the values of a city that is known for its support of environmental causes and open drug policies.

Donald Trump Jr. brushed off his father's Vancouver detractors in an interview with CTV television last year, calling them "ridiculous" and "disgusting." 

Polarizing preacher to BC

A polarizing American preacher with controversial views on Muslims and the LGBTQ community will headline a Christian festival in Vancouver despite protests from the city's mayor.

A spokesman for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Foundation says Rev. Franklin Graham, son of celebrity preacher Billy Graham, will speak at the Festival of Hope in early March.

Vancouver City Coun. Tim Stevenson says he and Mayor Gregor Robertson met with festival organizers earlier this week, where they raised concerns around public safety.

Stevenson says he is especially concerned about heightened tensions given the shooting deaths of six Muslims in a Quebec City mosque last month, as well as the official opening of the Trump Tower Hotel in Vancouver, which is scheduled to happen a week before the festival.

Graham, who spoke at Trump's inauguration, has described Islam as evil and praised Russian President Vladimir Putin for cracking down on people who are gay.

The Festival of Hope is a three-day event expected to bring thousands to Rogers Arena in downtown Vancouver for Christian music and prayer.

Treaties finally translated

In the English language, a fish is just a fish, but for the Tsartlip First Nation on Vancouver Island, words can vary when referring to catching, preserving or cooking the animal.

Vancouver Island First Nations and researchers at the University of Victoria are now taking a closer look at those differences by translating the Douglas Treaties into the indigenous languages of Sencoten and Lekwungen for the first time nearly 170 years after they were signed.

Elder John Elliott was one of two translators to produce the indigenous-language treaties that were unveiled Thursday, and he said there is a stark contrast in perspectives of land rights and resources.

He said the Sencoten language is a product of their spiritual belief, which informed their way of life and perspective on laws and ownership.

"We have a belief about how each and every one of those species of salmon were made and how they came to be, and how we relate to them through our language and belief system, and all of that was never taken into consideration," he said, referring to the treaty.

Between 1850 and 1854, then-governor of Vancouver Island James Douglas signed more than a dozen treaties with First Nations on the island.

Unlike other provinces, British Columbia didn't negotiate agreements with its First Nations, leaving much of province uncovered by treaties.

In the 1990s, the government began a new treaty process that has so far produced five final agreements and seven agreements-in-principle.

The historic treaties, sometimes called the Vancouver Island Treaties, ensured that First Nations could continue living as they always did, but Elliott said that became impossible as settlements expanded beyond Fort Victoria.

"Every time there was another development on our land and in our territories... there is another loss to the connection to a fishery or a hunting location that's ages old," he said.

University of Victoria historian John Lutz said in addition to having an impact on First Nations' rights today, the translated treaties can help inform relationships between indigenous people and the rest of Canada in the future.

"We have to understand the truth of our past before we can move toward reconciliation," Lutz said.

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