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Firefighters head to Nepal

A team of firefighters from B.C.'s Lower Mainland is joining an effort to find survivors of the worst earthquake to hit Nepal in more than 80 years.

Twenty officials from Mission and Burnaby are going on a six-day expedition with the disaster relief organization, Canadian Medical Assistance Teams.

Capt. Norm MacLeod of Mission Fire Rescue says three firefighters are bringing along sniffer dogs to look for people trapped under rubble and debris.

MacLeod says crews will do the best they can to help victims of the tragedy, and hopes lives can be saved during their short trip.

The effort is being led by retired Burnaby fire captain Marc Pullen, who helped to find survivors during the Haiti earthquake in 2010.

The death toll from the magnitude 7.8 earthquake that struck Nepal on Saturday has so far left more than 3,700 people dead.

The Canadian Press


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Bear scare at park

Residents of a Coquitlam neighbourhood had a close encounter with a bear on Sunday.

The animal was tranquilized for relocation after it wandered into a busy neighbourhood near a park and soccer field

A large crowd gathered to watch the black bear as police and firefighters converged on the scene.

The bear climbed a tree, and firefighters had to use a ladder truck to get it down after police shot it with a tranquilizer dart.

Julie Keaton was shopping with her son Adam and stopped to watch the commotion.

“We thought we’d drive in and see what was going on,” Keaton told CTV. “We experienced something that we’ll probably never see again. And hopefully we won’t.”

Police kept the crowd back and asked everyone to keep quiet so as not to spook the animal.

“You keep your distance,” Keaton said of her strategy when she encounters a bear. “Distance is important. I live in the area, and I see bears all the time.”

Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart said the bear coming so close to the city’s busiest park was a concern.

“We don’t want bears where people are,” he told CTV. “The interactions are just unpredictable. This one ended well, but we took no chances. We made sure that people were kept away from it and that the bear was ultimately relocated.”

– with files from CTV Vancouver

 



Forum focuses on gangs

Surrey residents concerned about the spate of gang violence in their city are taking action to restore peace to the community's streets.

Hundreds gathered at a temple on Sunday to discuss what can be done to curb the violence that has wracked the city in recent months.

Much of the event focused was on the role parents can play to prevent their children from getting involved with gangs.

Former gang members, parents of victims of gang violence and community activists all shared their stories with the hundreds gathered.

There have been nearly two dozen shootings in Surrey and neighbouring Delta since early March, with the first fatal incident taking place a week ago.

Police have said they believe the attacks are linked to an ongoing turf war between two groups of young men of Somali and South Asian descent. 

The Canadian Press


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Follow dinosaur highway

A type of dinosaur autobahn, with a riot of ancient footprints that are likely more than 100 million years old, has been discovered in northeastern British Columbia.

Hundreds of prints from extinct carnivores and herbivores are pressed into the flat, rocky surface spanning an area the size of three Canadian football fields, indicating the site was a major dinosaur thoroughfare.

Many of the three-toed prints at the site — located near Williston Lake about 1,500 kilometres northeast of Vancouver — closely resemble the Toronto Raptors logo.

"From what I saw, there is at least a score or more of trackways, so 20-plus trackways of different animals," said paleontologist Rich McCrea.

"We're looking at a few hundred foot prints that were exposed when I visited the site. If it keeps up that density and we are able to peel back a bit of the surface and expand it by another 1,000 square metres we're likely to find there are thousands of foot prints."

McCrea is the curator of the Peace Region Paleontology Research Centre in Tumbler Ridge. He believes the dinosaur path has major potential as a world-class scientific and tourism site, but said he's concerned the B.C. government's approach to protecting and promoting dinosaur zones is somewhat prehistoric.

"It would be one of the top sites, unquestionably," said McCrea, who's part of a local crowdfunding campaign to raise $190,000 to research and promote the dinosaur track site. "It already looks like it's going to be one of the biggest sites in Canada. That also means one of the biggest sites in the world."

He said his visits to the secret site indicate the area was a major travel zone for the Allosaurus, a Jurassic Park look-alike, 8.5-metre-long, two-legged predator with a huge head and rows of teeth.

McCrea said the area is also ripe with tracks made by the Anklosaurus, a four-legged, nine-metre-long herbivore, that weighed almost 6,000 kilograms and was known for its distinctive armour-plated head and long, club-like tail.

He estimated those tracks are between 115 million and 117 million years old.

"This was still in the dinosaurs' heyday," said McCrea. "It's kind of like the middle age of dinosaurs."

He said he wants the area protected by the B.C. government, and he's part of a pitch to create a Peace Country dinosaur tourist zone that rivals Alberta's Royal Tyrrell Museum at Drumheller. McCrea envisions dinosaur tours to Tumbler Ridge, Williston Lake and the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum in nearby Wembley, Alta.

Last fall, Tumbler Ridge was designated as a UNESCO global geopark that recognizes geological heritage. The community converted a school into a dinosaur museum and repository for the dinosaurs fossils discovered in the area.

McCrea said he wants to see a tourist building overlooking the dinosaur trackway area at Williston Lake. A similar concept at China's Zigong Dinosaur Museum attracts seven million people a year, he said.

Tumbler Ridge Liberal MLA Mike Bernier said he's been trying to convince cabinet ministers that the area is an important asset and needs heritage and fossil protection policies.

"People go crazy when they see dinosaur bones and fossils. There's something about it: the old Jurassic Park movie coming to life in your riding," he said.

Bernier said he's reviewing heritage protection laws from across North America and plans to submit a proposal to government this year.

B.C. Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson, of Kelowna, whose ministry covers fossil protection, said he's seen the Tumbler Ridge dinosaur site and has met with Bernier on strengthening the province's fossil management.

Five years ago the government protected the world-renowned McAbee fossil beds near Cache Creek in B.C.'s Interior from professional fossil hunters and others who were mining the area for cat litter.

"We are looking at what legislative adjustments might be needed to be put in place," said Thomson.

McCrea said Alberta and others have protected and profit from their fossil heritage, while B.C. remains behind the times.

"We're missing out on all the opportunities, not just tourism and education, but also, how about just pride that the province itself is the custodian of all its natural resources," he said.

The Canadian Press


Throw away the key?

A prosecutor's rare tactics to block a British Columbia man who murdered his three children from gaining some freedom is laying the groundwork for a possible test of the Conservative government's tough-on-crime agenda.

The Crown will be gathering an update on the mental state of Allan Schoenborn at the same time as she opposes his limited release being sought by doctors when his annual review resumes on Wednesday.

Schoenborn's horrific crime was pushed back into the national spotlight when Prime Minister Stephen Harper used the case in 2013 to bolster amendments to the Criminal Code.

Harper promised his legislation would ensure that people too dangerous to be released would no longer be a threat to their victims. The bill passed last year.

Those watching the case believe prosecutors are manoeuvring to seek the bill's new high-risk designation for Schoenborn, which would be a first for the province and the most high-profile use of the new laws to date.

"It certainly seems like a much more aggressive approach has been taken," said Scott Hicks, Schoenborn's lawyer, referring to the Crown's strategy. "My guess is that they're considering it."

Schoenborn was declared not criminally responsible on account of a mental disorder, or NCRMD, for stabbing his daughter and smothering his two sons in their Merritt, B.C., home in April 2008. A B.C. Supreme Court judge found he was likely suffering from a psychotic state.

He has been held in custody at a psychiatric hospital in suburban Vancouver ever since.

The B.C. Review Board is now considering whether supervised outings would aid his rehabilitation.

The hearings began in February and are scheduled for up to three more days this week. Most hearings take about half a day.

In an unusual step, an expert critical of international guidelines used to assess the degree of Schoenborn's threat is expected to testify.

Any high-risk application made later to B.C. Supreme Court would rely on data about the person's current mental condition, his past and expected course of treatment, and opinions of examining experts, said Crown spokesman Neil MacKenzie.

The Criminal Justice Branch has decided the new law can be applied retroactively.

"The branch intends to complete the annual process and then we'll determine what the appropriate next step may be," he said.

Representatives of the children's mother have openly decried the tribunal's process, arguing the hearings, which Schoenborn attends, rip open their healing wounds every year.

A cousin and spokesman joined mother Darcie Clarke in successfully petitioning the federal government to beef up victims' rights with Bill C-14, which since July has allowed the Crown to apply for the high-risk status.

The family has pushed for the board to impose a newly scripted three-year period before Schoenborn's next review.

But the legislation is widely misunderstood and has little practical effect when put to practise, say several closely familiar professionals.

Under the new law, any high-risk accused will be held in custody indefinitely. And though the board has been granted the power to unilaterally extend the review time up to three years, both its chairs in B.C. and Ontario have publicly argued against doing so.

Justice Richard Schneider, who heads the Ontario Review Board, said that if an NCRMD person was marked with that most serious label, it would make more sense to keep holding annual reviews.

"If you think you're going to have a pot boil over on a stove because it's a dangerous situation, do you want to look at that less frequently or more frequently," he asked.

Schneider said Schoenborn's review this year sounds like a "circus," noting predicting the Crown's plans would be speculation — but its "elevated interest" made that future scenario plausible.

But family spokesman Dave Teixeira called the board's intended use of the law "counterintuitive." He believes a multi-year term would allow Schoenborn more time to focus on treatment.

Schoenborn's lawyer Hicks said the outcome of this week's review could be the deciding factor. Convincing court to designate Schoenborn high-risk would be harder if the board grants him community access, he said.

Psychologist Patrick Baillie, an NCRMD expert who testified about the bill before a Parliamentary committee on behalf of the Mental Health Commission of Canada, wouldn't ascribe an "ulterior motive" to B.C.'s Crown.

But he said Crown has tended to "retry" the original case in high-profile situations, to amplify how dangerous the person appears.

"That's punishment and not the NCR regime in its true spirit."

A Quebec man is the only designated high-risk accused under the new regime.

The Canadian Press


Plane wreckage recovered

Wreckage of the Carson Air twin-engine aircraft that crashed shortly after takeoff earlier this month, is now under examination in Richmond.

Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) Investigator, Bill Yearwood, says that all the wreckage has been retrieved from the mountains north of Vancouver, and is bring stored at the TSB's Wreckage Examination Facility in Richmond.

“We are in the examination of the wreckage phase,” says Yearwood.

The TSB had originally reported that they suspected the plane had broke mid-air, a fact they are now confirming following further investigation.

“Yes, the plane did in fact break up mid-air,” says Yearwood.

The Carson Air Swearingen SA226-TC Metro II had been safely in service for 38 years prior to the incident, according to the Aviation Safety Network.

It was carrying cargo bound for Prince George when the plane went down in the North Shore Mountains on April 13, killing both crew members.

The two Carson Air pilots were identified as 34-year-old Robert Brandt and 32-year-old Kevin Wang, both from Vancouver.

Their plane disappeared from radar approximately 15 nautical miles north of YVR.

A rescue search party found the wreckage the following day on a snowy, wooded hillside, southeast of Crown Mountain.

The TSB Investigator-in-Charge, Jason Kobi, determined that there was a small fire in the area of the right engine nacelle.

At that time, the emergency locator transmitter activated, but did not transmit a signal. The crew did not declare an emergency.

“The aircraft dropped from an altitude of 2,400 metres to about 900 metres — the height at which the wreckage was found — in less than 20 seconds,” wrote the TBS. “This, with the wreckage dispersal and the lack of terrain damage, is consistent with an in-flight break-up.”

A TSB media spokesperson tells Castanet they will not speculate what caused, or can cause, an in-flight break up until their final investigation is completed.

They say there is no indication, at this point, of any malicious action or intent to damage the plane.

Carson Air, based out of Kelowna, bought the plane in 2006, following a long history with several companies.

The TSB will now complete a detailed examination of the wreckage collected at the TSB’s regional examination facility.

--With files from Ragnar Haagen.



Spill ship allowed to leave

A vessel that leaked toxic bunker fuel into Vancouver's English Bay is being allowed to return to normal operations and leave Canadian waters.

Transport Canada says inspectors are confident the MV Marathassa's deficiencies have been fixed and it meets regulations and is environmentally safe for travel.

The grain-carrying ship on its maiden voyage leaked at least 2,700 litres of fuel into the city's harbour on April 8, quickly spreading to popular beaches nearby.

Transport Canada says a thorough investigation of the fuel discharge continues and the ship's operators could face fines or prosecution if they are found to have violated Canada's shipping laws.

The federal agency says pollution recovery efforts are slowly winding down and the wildlife rehabilitation team is being demobilized.

Canada's laws ensure that polluters are held financially liable, and the operators of the MV Marathassa have agreed to pay for clean up and to appear in future legal proceedings that could lead to fines.

Transport Canada will conduct regular flyovers of the MV Marathassa as it departs Canadian waters.

The Canadian Press


Man killed in head-on crash

A 37-year-old Calgary man died Friday night in a head-on collision on the Trans-Canada Highway, three kilometres east of Field, near the Alberta border.

The two-vehicle collision happened about 7:15 p.m., RCMP report.

“At this time, we believe that the eastbound vehicle failed to negotiate a curve, striking an on oncoming westbound vehicle," says Golden-Field RCMP spokesperson Const. Spencer Lainchbury.

The driver of a westbound vehicle, a 32-year-old from Calgary, was treated by paramedics and released. However, the passenger was pronounced deceased at the scene.

The driver of the eastbound vehicle, a 33-year-old male believed to be from the Salmon Arm area, sustained serious injuries and was airlifted to Calgary by STARS Air Ambulance and is expected to survive.

“We are continuing to investigate, but believe that speed and alcohol likely contributed to the collision," says Lainchbury. “We will likely be forwarding charges for Impaired driving causing death against the driver of the eastbound vehicle.”

Highway 1 was closed in both directions at Golden and Lake Louise for several hours to allow police to complete their investigation, but has since been reopened.

RCMP from Golden and Lake Louise responded to the incident along with CP Rail Police, B.C. Ambulance and Parks Canada fire-rescue crews. The RCMP East Kootenay Traffic Services Unit, along with an RCMP collision reconstructionist from Calgary investigated while the highway was shut down.

Police ask anyone who may have witnessed the collision to contact Const. Trevor Skappak with the RCMP East Kootenay Traffic Services Unit at 250-344-2221.



Open fire ban coming soon

Effective at noon on May 15, 2015, the size of open fires will be restricted in most of the Kamloops Fire Centre to help prevent human-caused wildfires and protect the public.

This prohibition applies to all of the Kamloops Fire Centre except the Clearwater Fire Zone and the Salmon Arm Fire Zone. Anyone conducting Category two or three fires outside of those two zones must extinguish any such fires by noon on May 15. This prohibition will remain in effect until Oct. 15, 2015, or until further notice.

Since April 1, Kamloops Fire Centre crews have responded to 12 wildfire incidents covering more than 129 hectares. Many of these wildfires resulted from poorly planned open burning. Above-average temperatures and an early drying trend in the Kamloops Fire Centre have increased wildfire risks, so residents are urged to use extra caution with any open burning.

Specifically, prohibited activities include:

  • The burning of any waste, slash or other materials (piled or unpiled) larger than one-half metre by one-half metre.
  • The burning of more than two open fires of any size at the same time.
  • Stubble or grass fires of any size over any area.
  • The use of fireworks, sky lanterns or burning barrels of any size or description.

This prohibition does not ban campfires that are a half-metre high by a half-metre wide (or smaller) and does not apply to cooking stoves that use gas, propane or briquettes.

This prohibition covers all BC Parks, Crown lands and private lands, but it does not apply within the boundaries of a local government that has forest fire prevention bylaws in place and is serviced by a fire department. Before lighting any fire, residents should check with local civic authorities regarding any current prohibitions.

The Clearwater Fire Zone and the Salmon Arm Fire Zone will also become subject to this prohibition on June 15, 2015, when all open burning will be prohibited throughout the Kamloops Fire Centre.

The Kamloops Fire Centre stretches from the northern border of Wells Gray Park to the U.S. border in the south, and from the Bridge River Glacier west of Gold Bridge to the Monashee Mountains east of Lumby.

Click here for information about open burning and tips on making responsible burning decisions.

Anyone found in contravention of an open fire prohibition may be issued a ticket for $345 or, if convicted in court, may be fined up to $100,000 and sentenced to one year in jail. If the contravention causes or contributes to a wildfire, the person responsible may be subject to a penalty of up to $10,000 and be ordered to pay all firefighting and associated costs.

To report a wildfire or unattended campfire, call *5555 on your cellphone or call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free.

Click here for the latest information on fire activity, conditions and prohibitions.



B.C. pot debate smoulders

Vancouver's mayor has snuffed out a suggestion made by federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose that the city shut medical-marijuana dispensaries, rather than regulate them.

"No," Robertson told reporters, when asked Friday if the city would comply.

The dispute between the city and federal minister over Vancouver's plans to regulate the booming medical pot-trade has heightened throughout the week, threatening to turn into a standoff, as Robertson and Ambrose appeared at separate events in Metro Vancouver.

It began Wednesday, when city staff announced they will present a report to council that recommends regulation of the flourishing medical pot industry, enforcing a $30,000 licensing fee and requiring the shops to be at least 300 metres from schools.

Ambrose responded on Thursday with a strongly worded letter to Robertson warning that "normalizing" marijuana will increase use and addiction, especially among youth.

She followed up on Friday, telling reporters at an event in Surrey, B.C., that the city must "re-think" its plans to discuss regulating medicinal pot shops at an upcoming council meeting.

"The issue for me is a public-health issue. First of all, marijuana dispensaries are illegal," she said. "Marijuana is not a medicine, it is not approved as a medicine by Health Canada, nor has it gone through any of the typical rigorous clinical trials that are necessary for medicine to be approved."

Ambrose wouldn't say what her government is prepared to do if Vancouver goes ahead with the new regulations.

"I would leave that to the police," she said. "But I would also say to you that this resolution hasn't passed council yet. They're thinking about it, they have a problem on their hands. A lot of people want to make a lot of money."

In March 2014, Vancouver police Chief Jim Chu said his department didn't consider the enforcement of medical marijuana dispensaries a priority. He said police were intent on capturing violent drug traffickers who posed a danger to the community, and the dispensaries didn't fit that priority.

Robertson responded to Ambrose Friday afternoon, telling reporters the courts have ruled on the issue, and all the city can do is regulate the businesses like others because it can't let them operate in a vacuum.

That wouldn't be fair to other businesses and it wouldn't be appropriate for kids to have easy access to marijuana, said Robertson.

"We want to be sure there are some good solid guidelines here," he said. "Ultimately, the federal government is going to need to decide what courses of action they’re going to take with medical marijuana and marijuana in general."

Coun. Kerry Jang has said the federal government's restrictive medical marijuana laws forced the city to step in and that the new rules are specifically designed to prevent exposure to kids.

Marijuana dispensaries have popped up in larger cities across Canada, but nowhere has the growth been as accelerated than in Vancouver.

The number of dispensaries in the city has multiplied from six to 80 in just two years.

Vancouver's city council is expected to consider the staff report on medical marijuana during a meeting Tuesday.

The Canadian Press


Pressure shifts to Flames

The Vancouver Canucks believe a seed of doubt has been planted in the Calgary Flames.

Facing elimination on Thursday, the Canucks scored a hard-fought 2-1 victory over the Flames on home ice in Game 5 to stay alive in their Western Conference quarter-final.

Vancouver remains on the brink, trailing the series 3-2, but veteran goalie Ryan Miller said pressure is shifting to Calgary, which hosts Game 6 on Saturday night and will want to put the Canucks away to avoid returning to Rogers Arena for a winner-take-all Game 7.

"It's hard to close out a series," Miller said after Friday's practice. "I've been in those situations and you do let doubt get into your mind sometimes. Our job is to keep reinforcing that and keep reminding them we are a good team and they are going to have to beat us."

Canucks captain Henrik Sedin has been on both sides of 3-1 series leads and said the longer it takes to get that all-important fourth win, the more it can wear a team down.

"There's a lot of pressure on them going back home. Being up 3-1 you have a chance to win it," said Sedin, who picked up and assist on his brother Daniel's winning goal in Game 5. "I felt they looked a little tired at the end of the game. We have to bring the same energy. For them to go home and face their crowd, there's a lot of pressure there."

The Canucks put in their best effort of the series in Thursday night's must-win, peppering Flames goalie Jonas Hiller with 43 shots while limiting Calgary to 21, including just one on three power plays.

"I know we're excited to still be playing," said Canucks head coach Willie Desjardins. "It could have been a real bad day today and we knew that and we responded the right way and we have to go in and get the next one."

Experience might play a factor moving forward if Vancouver gets that next one away from home and is able to come back in the series. The Canucks' core has been through a number of playoff battles — including that run to the 2011 Cup final — while the Flames have eight players making their post-season debuts, including five rookies. Calgary is also without five regulars because of injury, including captain and star defenceman Mark Giordano.

"I'm not a psychologist. I don't know how they're feeling," said Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa. "All I know is we've won three games in a row a lot this year. It's not something that's insurmountable. We're a good road team.

"We haven't played our best in this series on the road so this is a good time to throw our best game at them."

Calgary won Game 3 and 4 at the Scotiabank Saddledome, with the crowd playing a big factor early in both games. The Canucks know keeping emotions in check, as they did for the most part in Game 5, will be a key early as the Flames look to close out their first playoff series win since 2004.

"It's a loud crowd. You can barely talk to your linemates during the game," said Henrik Sedin. "It's tough building to play in. I think a lot of times you tend to overreact to that kind of stuff where they have a 3-on-3 (rush) and the crowd goes crazy and you think 'Wow they're playing great.' You've got to trust you instincts that you're playing good hockey."

The Canadian Press


Pipeline safety under audit

The National Energy Board will conduct a comprehensive audit of emergency response and safety plans for energy pipeline giant Kinder Morgan.

The audit will only focus on existing facilities and won't include the companies planned Trans Mountain pipeline expansion between Alberta and the British Columbia coast.

Both Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and Premier Christy Clark have called for Kinder Morgan's full emergency response plan for the Trans Mountain project to be made public.

A spokesman for the federal regulator said the board intends to carefully review Kinder Morgan's current practices and scrutinize how executives and employees view safety.

Tom Neufeld said the audit will take about a year and is part of NEB Chairman Peter Watson's efforts to respond to concerns raised about emergency response plans of the energy infrastructure giant.

Watson was expected to address Metro Vancouver mayors on Friday about pipeline safety, as part of the board's national outreach initiative that started earlier this year.

Andy Galarnyk, director of external relations at Kinder Morgan, said the audit was simply the normal course of business to ensure their procedures are in compliance with regulatory requirements.

"All NEB regulated pipeline companies are subject to periodic audits by the board," he said in a statement.

"The safe operation of our pipeline and protection of the public and environment is our number 1 priority."

Kinder Morgan is considered the largest energy infrastructure firm in North America, with 135,000 kilometres of pipelines and 180 terminals.

The Canadian Press


Fire restrictions take force

Fire prevention measures take hold May 15 through most of the Kamloops Fire Centre. 

The burning bans are aimed at preventing human-caused wildfires and apply to all of the fire centre except the Clearwater fire zone and the Salmon Arm fire zone. 

Prohibited activities include:

  • The burning of any waste, slash or other materials (piled or unpiled) larger than one-half metre by one-half metre.
  • The burning of more than two open fires of any size at the same time.
  • Stubble or grass fires of any size over any area.
  • The use of fireworks, sky lanterns or burning barrels of any size or description
  • This prohibition does not ban campfires that are a half-metre high by a half-metre wide (or smaller) and does not apply to cooking stoves that use gas, propane or briquettes.

The prohibition covers all B.C. parks, Crown lands and private lands, but does not apply within the boundaries of a local government that has forest fire prevention bylaws in place and is serviced by a fire department.

The Kamloops fire centre includes Clearwater, Kamloops, Salmon Arm, Vernon, Penticton, Merritt and Lillooet.

The Clearwater and Salmon Arm fire zones will also become subject to the ban on June 15, when all open burning will be prohibited throughout the Kamloops Fire Centre. The prohibition runs until Oct. 15 or until further notice. 

"Since April 1, Kamloops Fire Centre crews have responded to 12 wildfire incidents covering more than 129 hectares," fire information officer Kayla Pepper said in a release. " Many of these wildfires resulted from poorly planned open burning." 

Above-average temperatures and an early drying trend have increased the wildfire risk, so residents are urged to use extra caution with any open burning.

Before lighting any fire, residents should check with local civic authorities regarding any current prohibitions.

Anyone found in contravention of an open fire prohibition may be issued a ticket for $345 or, if convicted in court, may be fined up to $100,000 and sentenced to one year in jail. If the contravention causes or contributes to a wildfire, the person responsible may be subject to a penalty of up to $10,000 and be ordered to pay all firefighting and associated costs.

To report a wildfire or unattended campfire, call *5555 on your cellphone or call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free.

For the latest information on fire activity, conditions and prohibitions, visit the Wildfire Management Branch website



Shut 'em down: Ambrose

Health Minister Rona Ambrose says the City of Vancouver should consider shutting down illegal marijuana dispensaries, rather than regulating them.

Ambrose told reporters at an unrelated event in Surrey that the city must "re-think" its plans to discuss regulating medicinal pot shops at an upcoming council meeting.

Her comments came a day after she sent a strongly worded letter to Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson warning that "normalizing" marijuana will increase use and addiction, especially among youth.

City staff will present a report to council on Tuesday recommending the regulation of the flourishing medical pot industry, enforcing a $30,000 licensing fee and requiring the shops to be at least 300 metres from schools.

Coun. Kerry Jang has said the federal government's restrictive medical marijuana laws forced the city to step in and that the new rules are specifically designed to prevent exposure to kids.

Ambrose wouldn't say what her government is prepared to do if Vancouver goes ahead with the new regulations.

The Canadian Press




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