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Motorcycle in Hwy 5 crash

UPDATE 5:40 p.m.

Southbound traffic is moving again on the Coquihalla Highway near Mine Creek (Exit 231), following a serious crash involving a motorcycle.

According to DriveBC, traffic is moving, although, due to the length of the original delay, motorists can expect travel to be extremely slow in the area of the crash.


UPDATE: 4:20 p.m.

Traffic is backed up for kilometres on the Coquihalla Highway after a serious crash Friday.

Drive BC says there is still a lane closure in effect in the southbound lane near Mine Creek (Exit 231), and warns to expect delays.


ORIGINAL

Emergency crews rushed to the scene Friday afternoon of what witnesses are calling a serious crash near the old toll booth on the Coquihalla Highway.

One witness said the crash involved a motorcycle.

Three or four ground ambulances are at the scene along with a medi-vac helicopter.

According to DriveBC, the highway was closed in both directions, but the road has since been reopened in both directions.

More details when they become available.



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Cops hunt heckler

Vancouver police are investigating after a heckler interrupted a live broadcast to hurl sexually explicit remarks at a female reporter.

CTV British Columbia news director Les Staff confirms that reporter Sarah MacDonald has filed a complaint with the Vancouver Police Department over the incident, which happened in the city's downtown around 11:30 p.m. on Thursday.

MacDonald was reporting on a group of Pokemon Go players that had gathered in Robson Square when a man stepped beside her and uttered a vulgarity while apparently recording the incident with his cell phone.

That same obscenity is the latest in a viral phenomenon that flared up about two years ago where hecklers interrupt live television reports to yell the comment into a reporter's microphone.

Staff says he hopes this doesn't mark a resurgence of the behaviour.

A Toronto engineer was fired from Ontario's Hydro One last year after he was identified shouting the obscenity during a live broadcast outside a soccer stadium, but he was reinstated after an arbitration process.



Go easy on the solitary

A coroner's jury looking into the suicide of an inmate at the medium-security Matsqui Institution in British Columbia's Fraser Valley has made 25 recommendations aimed at saving lives.

Christopher Roy died in June last year at Abbotsford Hospital after hanging himself at the prison.

The jury heard over a four-day inquest that Roy had a history of mental illness, of hurting himself and of time spent in segregation.

Two of the recommendations call on the federal government to adopt the United Nations guidelines on solitary confinement and to limit how much time a person spends in isolation, especially if an inmate is known to have a mental illness.

Other recommendations include hiring extra staff, more frequent cell checks, appointing a full-time nurse for segregated inmates and requiring that prisoners get outside everyday.

The recommendations are not binding on the government.





No drones for hunters

That eye in the sky, the flying drone, has been banned for use among hunters tracking wildlife in B.C.

Hunting and trapping groups have welcomed the government's decision.

The small, GPS-controlled aircraft can be equipped to send digital images of big game and other animals to an operator.

An amendment to the Wildlife Act makes it illegal for people to operate or possess a drone or use data obtained by a drone while on a hunting or trapping expedition. It is also now illegal for a third party to use a drone to help a hunter or trapper.

"Using drones to help track your prey just isn't part of the hunting culture in British Columbia," said Jim Glaciar, president of the B.C. Wildlife Federation. “Hunters are respectful of wildlife and their habitat and very supportive of the steps government is taking to prevent hunters from using drones."

"Hunters come to British Columbia to experience the wild and beautiful backcountry and participate in fair chase hunting. Drones undermine the experience people have come to expect when they hunt big game in this province,” said Scott Ellis, executive director of the Guide Outfitters Association of B.C.

Before the change, it was already illegal to use a helicopter to hunt in B.C.

The minimum fine for hunting with a helicopter or drone is $2,500 – although a first conviction could cost a hunter $250,000 and up to two years in jail, according to a government press release.

"We have to make sure that our regulations keep pace with technology,” said Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.

Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario,and Newfoundland and Labrador have also banned hunters from using drones.



Biker dies after crash

North Vancouver RCMP say a 32-year-old motorcycle driver involved in a collision on July 20 has died as a result of extensive injuries.

The BC Coroners Service is now in charge of the investigation.

On Wednesday, police reported the driver lost control of his motorbike, crashing in the off-ramp at Highway 1 and Lillooet Road in North Vancouver. According to police, the unnamed Vancouver man was then projected over a concrete median and run over by an oncoming vehicle.

The man was rushed to hospital while the driver of the other vehicle remained at the scene.

RCMP believe speed was a factor in the tragic incident.



Drunken ice-cream crash

Surrey RCMP are investigating after the driver of an ice-cream truck allegedly mowed down several garbage cans before driving into a ditch Thursday afternoon.

On July 21 at approximately 3:45 p.m., Surrey RCMP received calls reporting what appeared to an ice cream truck driving in an unusual manner northbound on 141st Street near 100th Avenue in Surrey.

“The persons reporting advised that the ice cream truck was driving erratically and had struck several garbage cans that were along the edge of the roadway, and then had driven into the ditch,” explains Sgt. Hedderson. 

Emergency personnel rushed to the scene and the driver was checked over, but did not appear to have any injuries.

The driver, a 45-year-old resident of Surrey, was dealt with at the scene. 

“Alcohol is believed to be a factor in this incident. The matter is still under investigation,” adds Hedderson.

Surrey RCMP are now seeking the public's assistance and are asking that anyone that may have witnessed the ice cream truck prior to it going into the ditch, or stopped to help at the scene are asked to call the RCMP at 604-599-0502 or call Crime Stoppers.



B.C. posts $730 M surplus

British Columbia's thriving real estate market has helped the provincial government post a budget surplus of more than double the original forecast, Finance Minister Mike de Jong said Thursday.

The final public accounting for the fiscal year that ended March 31 reveals a surplus budget of $730 million and economic growth of three per cent, well above the Canadian average, he said. De Jong had forecast a surplus of $284 million in last February's budget.

Revenues increased by $1.5 billion over the year, due primarily to increases in federal contributions and personal income and corporate taxes, but the largest percentage increase was in property transfer taxes, which the government charges on residential and commercial real estate deals, the minister said.

"This is clearly a significant part of the budget and has generated significant revenue, but the economy is performing well almost across the fold," de Jong said.

The public accounts show property transfer tax revenues grew by $468 million over last year, a jump of 43.9 per cent. The report stated the province received $1.5 billion in property transfer tax revenues in 2015-2016, up from $1 billion in 2015-15.

De Jong indicated property transfer tax revenues have continued to increase since last March and a further financial update will be made in September.

"It's clear that property transfer tax revenues are up," he said during a news conference. "It is clear from the report I have just given you, I have indicated that the trend is continuing."

The Liberals have recalled the legislature next week to deal with housing and real estate troubles that have been plaguing some parts of the province.

B.C. politicians will debate legislation that would allow the city of Vancouver to impose a vacancy tax in an effort to increase the availability of rental properties. Vancouver's vacancy rate is below one per cent and the average price for detached homes is above $2 million and rising in some neighbourhoods.

De Jong said the property transfer tax revenues are providing the government with increased spending options, but he didn't make any program announcements.

"I do think we need to be cautious about making assumptions that these levels of returns will continue in perpetuity," he said. "I don't think they will."

De Jong said he believes building more homes as opposed to taxing existing properties is the way through the current crunch.

"Let us not make the mistake of assuming governments are going to tax our way out of the challenges for people owning a home," he said. "Let's give them something to buy."

British Columbia's real estate market is of enormous economic value to the province, with the Finance Ministry reporting the total value of commercial and residential real estate sold in 2015-2016 at $93.67 billion.



Guilty in targeted attacks

Families with links to a British Columbia justice training centre were among the targets in the firebombings and shootings of their homes and vehicles by a man who has pleaded guilty to orchestrating the attacks, the Crown told a sentencing hearing Thursday.

Vincent Cheung, 43, of Langley, pleaded guilty in B.C. Supreme Court to 18 of 23 counts stemming from the attacks between April 2011 and January 2012.

Reading from an agreed statement of facts, Crown lawyer Joe Bellows said the man targeted 15 families throughout the Lower Mainland after tracking down their homes with information obtained from their licence plates.

All the victims — including a corrections officer and members of a church group — had a member of their family park at the British Columbia Justice Institute, which offers training for people working in public safety including police officers and firefighters, he said.

Bellows said the Crown and defence will jointly ask for sentencing in the range of 10 to 15 years in prison.

He said nine witness impact statements on Friday will shed light on what the families endured.

"A lot of emotional trauma, a lot of financial difficulties," he said outside court. "They were very traumatized. Especially those who were victimized more than once."

Court heard that Cheung hired and directed others, and might have personally participated in the attacks. Most victims were at home and several were sleeping, but nobody was injured or killed, said Bellows.

Their safety was not the result of careful planning, "it was simply dumb luck," he told the court.

Video footage played in court showed a firebombing at the home of West Vancouver's former police chief. Bellows said in one case, a fire was set to the front and back entrances of the home of an elderly woman.

Investigators spent four years piecing together the mysterious reign of terror, which at first appeared to involve random victims, court heard. But an email sent to the justice institute in July 2011 drew the connection that concentrated police efforts.

Its subject line read, "Stop following people before someone gets hurt."

The email listed nine names and addresses. Eight had been victims of arsons or shootings, court heard.

Investigators also found a bag at one victim's home with a loaded handgun and a document listing names, addresses and accurate descriptions of attacks that had occurred at those residences. DNA found in the bag also matched the accused.

Investigators ran an undercover operation to gather more evidence and got co-operation from a "close associate" who told police Cheung had "serious mental health issues."

"There was a satellite up in the sky controlled from the (justice institute) building that was zapping his brain," the agreed statement of facts quotes Cheung as telling the associate. "He had proof of it and that is why they were following him around."

Police arrested Cheung last September.

They searched his home and found a certificate saying he had completed a recovery and treatment program in October 2010. There was also a page of handwriting including a passage that read: "The paranoia got to me from all the drugs, so I got friends to tail me to make sure and see who was tailing me and we tailed them back to the justice institute. That's how I found out they were police."

Another man facing a single charge in the case pleaded guilty on Wednesday to one count of arson. A sentencing hearing for Thurman Taffe of Burnaby is scheduled next month.

An employee of the Insurance Corp. of B.C. has also been fired after investigators found the person looked up the addresses of all the victims, court heard. That investigation continues and no charges have been laid.



Pokemon Go disrespect

This should not have to be said, but a hospice house in Mission is asking people to stop playing Pokemon Go on its grounds.

The Christine Morrison Hospice is known as a place of solitude, providing end of life compassionate care for terminally ill patients and their families.

According to CTV Vancouver, it also now apparently a Pokémon Go hot spot.

Management at the 10-bed hospice, which is located inside the Mission Memorial Hospital, says it's been having problems with players wandering into their facility in a bid to catch virtual characters.

Executive Director Angel Elias told CTV News that it recently came to their attention that the care facility is a stop in the wildly-popular digital smartphone game.

She is urging gamers to stay away, saying it's disrespectful to the staff, volunteers and most important, gravely-ill residents.

"We ask that you please respect our families and patients and not enter the building. We appreciate the public's understanding in this matter," says Elias.

– with files CTV Vancouver 



Eating disorders on the rise

Gay, lesbian and bisexual youth are continuing to purge, fast or take diet pills to lose weight while rates for such behaviour among heterosexuals have decreased, a University of British Columbia study says.

"Our study has found that it's only getting worse for lesbian and bisexual girls," said lead researcher Ryan Watson, a postdoctoral fellow at the university's school of nursing.

The research involved 26,000 students in Massachusetts, but the results for the Grades 9 to 12 students are the same as an even larger and yet-to-be published British Columbia survey among students in Grades 7 to 12.

The Massachusetts study, based on data collected between 1999 and 2013, was published this week in the International Journal of Eating Disorders.

Watson said Massachusetts is one of the few states that since 1991 has asked youth about sexual orientation as part of its regular surveys on adolescents.

The study said that in 2013, lesbians were twice as likely to report purging and fasting than they were in 1999. For that year, the prevalence of purging among bisexual girls, at 33 per cent, was higher than for lesbians, at 22 per cent, but stayed nearly the same in 2013, when it jumped to 36 per cent for lesbians girls.

In comparison, eight per cent of heterosexual girls reported purging in 1999, but the rate went down to five per cent in 2013.

Heterosexual boys had the lowest rates of the behaviour, and it declined further over the years.

Watson said it's not known why there's such a disparity among the different groups of youth, but it's clear that sexual minority kids need targeted programs.

He said the research suggests healthy eating and body-image programs that seem to be working for straight youth haven't reached lesbian, gay and bisexual kids.

The students were asked about their weight loss behaviour over the last 30 days, and their "disordered eating" did not suggest they had an eating disorder but they could be at a high risk in the future, said University of B.C. nursing Prof. Elizabeth Saewyc, the study's senior author.

She said better supports are needed for sexual minority youth, especially lesbians and bisexual girls when it comes to developing positive body image and healthy eating choices.

Dr. Pei-Yoong Lam, a pediatrician in the eating disorders program at BC Children's Hospital, said the study creates more awareness about the impact of sexual identity on eating disorders.

"Kids who are lesbian, gay or bisexual or transgender are at risk of various conditions, particularly mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. There also tend to be more risk-taking behaviours in this population and it really is about the support that they receive in the community."

She said bullying and rejection over sexual identity has an impact on various mental health conditions, including eating disorders among children.

Dr. Laird Birmingham, who has specialized in treating eating disorders for more than 40 years and now runs a private clinic after working at St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver, said specialized services are needed for sexual minorities.

"The government has no specific programs for individuals in those categories," he said.

"They have to be allowed to hear things in the context of their beliefs, of their life, how it's developing, and the challenges they have sexually," he said, adding that it's all the more important in small-group therapy.

"The messaging has to be specific, just the same as it has to be for males and females. In fact, even the tests that diagnose eating disorders are different based on different ethnicities."



Time to get your game on

Let the games begin.

Thousands of B.C.’s best young athletes, along with coaches and officials will gather in Abbotsford for three days of intense competition at the 2016 BC Summer Games.

Athletes will compete in 18 sports ranging from baseball to wrestling, including three events for athletes with a disability (athletics, equestrian and swimming). The 2,441 athletes will be joined by 479 coaches and more than 300 officials in the Fraser Valley’s largest city.

The Government of British Columbia supported the games with $600,000 in base funding provided to the BC Games Society. The City of Abbotsford, School District 34 and other partners have also contributed funding or in-kind services to the event.

Many former BC Games competitors have gone on to participate in national and international competitions, including the Canada Games and the Olympic and Paralympic Games. More than 25 BC Games alumni will soon compete for Team Canada at the Rio 2016 Olympics including: Kirsten Sweetland (triathlon), Richard Weinberger (swimming), William Dean (rowing) and Bo Hedges (wheelchair basketball).

“The BC Summer Games are a wonderful catalyst for community and sport development. Investments made in Abbotsford sport facilities will give these young athletes a great platform on which to excel,” said Kelly Mann, BC Games Society president and CEO.

This is the 30th year for the games with athletes from throughout the province participating.



Not the smartest criminal

Police in Nanaimo have a good idea of who stole a woman's purse and iPhone thanks to automatic downloads from the camera on her phone.

Investigators say the woman left her purse near her car July 5 when she went to dump some garbage and looked back to see a man near her vehicle, then returned to find her purse missing.

Police say the woman purchased a new iPhone and when her old pictures were downloaded, there was a picture of the man she saw near her purse before it disappeared.

The picture of the blue-eyed suspect with a shaved head appears to be a selfie and police have posted the man's photo on their website to see if anyone can help in their theft investigation.



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