Guichon thanked for service

The lost confidence vote for British Columbia's Liberal government and the establishment of a NDP minority may have meant a giant political upheaval, but it doesn't rate near the top for most exciting moments for the outgoing lieutenant-governor.

In fact, Judith Guichon says the agreement between Premier John Horgan's New Democrats and Greens to form government last year doesn't even rank in the top three events for her six-year tenure.

Guichon says her most memorable events are visiting Victoria's Cridge Centre where work is being done to help people with brain injuries, seeing the Paleontology Museum in Tumbler Ridge, and being in Stewart to see the disappearing glaciers.

But Horgan could not stay away from mentioning Guichon's historic election decision that allowed his government to come to power, saying that she is his favourite lieutenant-governor.

Guichon attended 550 official events in the last year and almost 2,400 events since her appointment in November 2012.

Opposition Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson says history will remember Guichon for the crucial and dignified role she played in last year's election.


Gov't to limit ICBC claims

The provincial government has introduced legislation that will attempt to restore the finances of B.C.'s public auto insurance agency.

Attorney General David Eby has promised changes to ICBC as it faced a forecast deficit of $1.3 billion.

The proposed changes introduced Monday in the legislature include a limit of $5,500 for pain and suffering on minor injury claims and faster resolutions of disputes.

If approved, the changes will set up a resolution process for cases under $50,000 that allows them to be resolved in as little as 90 days instead of two to three years.

Eby says for years, drivers have had to pay more to cover the agency's spiralling legal and administrative costs.

The government says the changes are necessary to help address the massive growth in the cost of injury claims, which jumped 80 per cent between 2009 and 2016.

Gas prices hit record high

The cost of driving just hit an all-time high in Metro Vancouver.

Drivers woke up to prices as high as 157.9 cents a litre on Monday.

Surrey appears to be the last holdout for cheaper gas, with prices averaging 154.9 cents, according to gasbuddy.com.

Prices in Vancouver, Burnaby, Richmond, Coquitlam and New Westminster were all at 157.9, although there were a few holdout stations several cents lower.

The price of fuel spiked last month to 156.9 cents a litre, as refineries in B.C. and Washington state were closed for repairs. Alberta's threat to reduce oil shipments to B.C. is also fanning fears of outrageous gas prices this summer.

Gasbuddy's Dan McTeague predicts prices could top $1.60 a litre.

– with files from CTV Vancouver


$30M/year for empty homes

The City of Vancouver's new empty homes tax is expected to bring in $30 million in revenue in its first year.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson says $17 million has already been collected from owners of almost 8,500 properties that were determined to be vacant or under utilized for at least six months of the year.

The tax is the first of its kind in Canada, requiring homeowners who do not live in or rent out their properties to pay a one per cent levy based on the assessed value of the home.

Robertson says the tax was intended to address the city’s near-zero vacancy rate.

The mayor says it's unclear yet if the tax has increased rental accommodation, and better data collection methods are being developed for the city to monitor the impact of initiates like the tax more closely.

The median tax due is just under $10,000 and Robertson says anyone who doesn't pay up will face fines and have the bill added to their property taxes next year.

Fumes forced Coq landing

UPDATE: 11:50

Police said an aircraft that made an emergency landing on the Coquihalla Highway near Merritt was undamaged, and the pilot was uninjured.

The single-engine aircraft touched down safely about 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

The Chilliwack man said his cockpit filled with fumes and he had to make a mayday call.

The pilot said he was flying from Chilliwack to Merritt and he was worried about power lines and loss of power to his plane.

He located a break in traffic and was able to touch down safely in the northbound lanes of Highway 5 and taxi into the median, out of danger, according to Merritt RCMP.

Numerous travellers reached out to Castanet after seeing the aircraft parked on the grass.

Tail letters on the plane show the Bushby Mustang II is owned by an Everett Block, who has owned the aircraft since 2016.

The Canadian Civil Aircraft registration site shows the home-built aircraft is based out of Abbotsford Airport and was built in 1979.

ORIGINAL: 10:30 a.m.

Motorists driving on B.C.'s Coquihalla Highway were treated to a bizarre sight this afternoon when a small airplane landed on the highway median.

Debra Sharkey was driving from Vancouver to Kamloops when she witnessed the Mustang II flying low above the highway approximately 10 kilometres south of Merritt.

She says she watched the plane fly lower and lower, before taking a long, gradual decline.

The pilot then landed on a grassy median between the divided highway lanes.

Sharkey says she immediately slowed down, pulled over to the shoulder of the highway, and called out to the pilot — who said he was fine.

Sharkey adds she doesn't know what caused the pilot to bring the plane down on the median, but the craft appeared to be in good shape.

"Traffic was a little loud, so I hollered at him and asked him if he was OK and he replied, 'Yes, I'm fine,'" Sharkey told Kamloops radio station CFJC.

"He was proceeding to get out of his plane and get things together and I said, 'Well, do you need a ride somewhere?' And he said, 'No, I've got my cellphone and I've got some service. I'll make a couple of calls. I'm all good, I'm not leaving my plane.'"

The aircraft was seen being loaded onto a flatdeck trailer about 6:30 p.m.

– The Canadian Press

Thrown from truck in crash

A Williams Lake man is dead after his pickup went over an embankment.

Sunday evening, about 6:30 p.m., RCMP responded to the single-vehicle crash on the 4000 Block of Springfield Road.

The 66-year-old driver had been ejected from the truck and was deceased at the scene.

Police are investigating, but don't believe alcohol or speed were involved.

Pipeline protest pushback?

The second report in a two-part Angus Reid Institute study of the TransMountain conflict finds Canadians are three times more likely to say the protesters do not represent the mainstream view of their compatriots.

Protests against Kinder Morgan’s TransMountain Pipeline followed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau all the way to London, England. Where protestors from the United Kingdom's branch of Greenpeace demonstrated.

But the Angus Reid report indicates the broader Canadian public is less enthusiastic about resistance to this project.
Six-in-ten Canadians, 59 per cent say the pipeline expansion would help the Canadian economy overall, while one-in-five, 17 per cent say it would have negative consequences.
More Key Findings:

  • 60 per cent say they view the protests against TransMountain as not representative of the mainstream view, but fewer, 46 per cent say they would like to see B.C. Premier John Horgan should condemn them
  • By a ratio of three-to-one, Canadians say Kinder Morgan could have done a better job of earning public support and brought much of this conflict upon itself. This opinion is held by supporters and opponents alike
  • Regardless of which side of the debate they are on, more than half of Canadians say they’re paying close attention to this issue – including majorities in every region other than Quebec

1 dead in East Van assault

Police are investigating the death of a man after an assault in East Vancouver.

Police tape surrounded a restaurant at Kingsway and Nanaimo Street, and one man is in custody. Blood was visible on the window.

The incident happened about 1:30 a.m. Sunday after an argument escalated.

Dam Minh Huu, 55, was taken to hospital, where he later died.

A 48-year-old Vancouver man was arrested.

– with files from CTV Vancouver

BC's wine identity?

A new video takes a stab at answering the question, "what is British Columbia’s wine industries core Identity?"

You can find out this weekend at the Okanagan Wine and Orchard Museum, located in the Laurel Packinghouse on 1304 Ellis.

The University of British Columbia and Kedge Business School, in collaboration with The Innovation School, and The Glasgow School of Art, have launched a video documenting their work with entrepreneurs from across the province to discover and define the identity of the B.C. wine region.

The video was filmed by Stefan Matis, Plia Film Productions, Kelowna and features segments from a series of workshops that took place across the province last fall.

“Identity is not the same as marketing. Identity is far richer. It's culture, it's social values, it's relationships across people, it's relationships between people and the land. Marketing when done well in a successful wine region, is based upon that,” says Dr. Roger Sugden, Faculty of Management and Regional Socio-Economic Development Institute of Canada (RSEDIC), University of British Columbia.

The academic team is confident that the stronger the region’s identity, the easier it will be for it to remain competitive and compete on the world stage.

“Every year, more and more regions are telling the consumer they are making the greatest wine. And in order to express that correctly, you have to know who you are,” says Dr. Jacques-Olivier Pesme, Kedge Business School, Bordeaux Wine & Spirits Academy.

“You don’t have an identity until you grow up and I think we as an industry are growing up. It’s a very appropriate time for us to focus on the future of our industry,” says winery owner Don Triggs.

The Wine Regions of British Columbia include:

  • Vancouver Island
  • The Gulf Islands
  • Fraser Valley
  • Okanagan Valley
  • Similkameen Valley
  • Emerging Regions

More joint surgeries to come

A new hip and knee replacement program announced by the B.C. government aims to give people in the Fraser Health area better access to those surgeries.

"We are establishing five hip and knee replacement programs across B.C., of which the Burnaby Fraser Health program is one," said Health Minister Adrian Dix. "We are making system improvements such as adding dedicated operating time for hip and knee surgeries."

Dix said there will be over 19,000 such surgeries performed in B.C. in 2018, which is a 23 per cent increase over last year.

Similar programs have been announced at Vancouver General Hospital, in Prince George and on Vancouver Island. 

Michael Marchbank, Fraser Health president and CEO, said in a press release that he recognizes patients need to feel supported both before and after surgery. 

"We have heard from patients that the new arthroplasty centre at Burnaby Hospital has helped them to not only better prepare for their hip or knee surgeries, but also to feel more informed about their options for rehabilitation following their procedures, which is why we look forward to expanding this model to other hospitals in our region," he said.

The new program will hopefully reduce wait times and improve continuity of care, along with increasing the number of surgeries. 

-With files from CTV Vancouver

Chinese receive apology

Vancouver city council has delivered a formal apology to the Chinese community for historical discrimination.

Mayor Gregor Robertson, who read the apology in English, said it was an important day to come together, recognize wrongdoings and build a better future.

The apology publicly acknowledged past legislation, regulations and policies of previous city councils that discriminated against residents of Chinese descent.

Former city councils barred residents of Chinese descent from voting until 1948, and from civic employment until 1952.

They also advocated for discriminatory policies like the federal head tax, and made various attempts at segregating public spaces like swimming pools and cemeteries.

More than 500 people gathered at the Chinese Cultural Centre for the event, which was part of a larger Chinatown Cultural Day celebration.

Former Vancouver City councillors Maggie Ip and Bill Yee read the apology in Cantonese and the Sze Yup dialect.

The City of New Westminster became the first B.C. municipality to formally apologize to Chinese-Canadians for past discrimination in 2010.

In 2015, Chinese-Canadians received an apology from then-premier Christy Clark on behalf of British Columbia for more than 100 racist laws, regulations and policies of past B.C. governments.

In 2006, the federal government offered an apology for the head tax imposed on Chinese immigrants and included $20,000 in compensation for families or surviving people who paid the tax.

Plane lands on Coq.

UPDATE: 5:40 p.m.

The pilot of a plane that landed on the Coquihalla Highway Sunday appears to have gotten out safely, according to a witness.

A photograph sent to Castanet shows the man exiting the grey and orange aircraft. 

"Very scary. He landed safe, thought was on fire... called in three cops and ambulance showed up," said the reader.

ORIGINAL: 5:05 p.m.

Drivers on the Coquihalla Highway witnessed a strange sight on Sunday afternoon.

A small aircraft  landed on the median of Highway 5 at about 4 p.m.

Jackie Rugwell was travelling on the Coquihalla heading back to Kelowna when she spotted the small grey-and-orange plane.

“In the middle there is grass and it was parked, like it was landed in the grass,” Rugwell said.

She wondered if it landed on the highway and moved to the grass to get off the highway.

“We are 13 kilometres outside of Merritt,” she said.

DriveBC told Castanet they were not notified about the aircraft because it was not on the road.

Images circulating on social media show a police officer and a man standing beside the small aircraft.

DriveBC believes three police officer and one ambulance attended the scene.

Rugwell said the plane appeared to be intact and did not look like it had crashed.

Castanet has reached out to Merritt RCMP, but have not received a response back.

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