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Largest jet to serve YVR

The world's largest airliner will be making daily flights between Vancouver and England this summer.

British Airways' mammoth Airbus A380 landed at Vancouver International Airport Sunday night, making its first non-stop flight between Canada's West Coast and the U.K.

The scheduled flights will run between YVR and London Heathrow through the summer.

The plane can carry 469 passengers in four cabins on two decks.

The flying giant is 73 metres long, with a wingspan of 80 metres.

British Airways previously used two Boeing 747s each day on the route, but a single A380 can carry all the passengers on the nine-hour flight.

– with files from CTV Vancouver





Name of fire victim released

The BC Coroners Service has confirmed the identity of a man who died in a residential structure fire in Vanderhoof on April 23, as Donald Pippy, 51, of Vanderhoof.

Shortly before 5 a.m. on April 23, neighbours of Pippy phoned 911 to report his residence on Smedley Drive was on fire.

The fire department responded, and after extinguishing the fire, found Pippy dead at the scene.

The BC Coroners Service continues to investigate this death.



Cut! film tax credit reduced

British Columbia's finance minister has yelled cut on film and TV industry tax credits.

Mike de Jong announced that the subsidy will be chopped by five per cent to 28 per cent after the government consulted with the industry.

He says the subsidy was forecast to cost the government almost $500 million this year, up from the average of $313 million over the past three years, and the strong American dollar has made the province even more attractive to the industry.

The changes are subject to approval of the legislature and are scheduled to be implemented in October when productions of new television episodes usually start.

The film and TV industry brings in about $2 billion annually in productions.

The Motion Picture Industry Association of BC says in a statement that the tax changes are a result of measured revisions that address the needs of the industry and government.





Doctors oppose release

The treatment team for a mentally ill British Columbia man who killed his three children is expected to oppose day passes during an upcoming annual review.

A lawyer for Allan Schoenborn has told a B.C. Supreme Court judge that the man's psychiatrists will recommend against allowing him on escorted outings when his hearing is held later this month.

Schoenborn was granted the potential for limited freedom at his hearing last year by the B.C. Review Board, which decided he had made progress and could possibly make day trips as part of his rehabilitation.

But his lawyer Rishi Gill says the director of the psychiatric facility where he lives in suburban Vancouver has never actually given Schoenborn final approval for an outing.

A spokesman for the family members of the three victims, Dave Teixeira, says he's not surprised by the change in Schoenborn's treatment plan, noting the hospital has recorded at least 48 violent incidents since he entered the facility.

In 2010 Schoenborn was found not criminally responsible due to a mental disorder for the slayings of his 10-year-old daughter and eight- and five-year-old sons in their Merritt home.

The information was presented at the start of a hearing on Monday to determine whether strict new controls should be placed on Schoenborn, who has been diagnosed with mental illness since the killings eight years ago.

Crown lawyers are seeking to have Schoenborn designated as a "high-risk accused," a controversial label that was created by the former Conservative government.

The Criminal Code designation includes provisions that can stop almost all of his absences from a psychiatric hospital and has the potential to extend annual review hearings to once every three years.

Schoenborn's lawyers object to the designation and plan to argue that it's unconstitutional at a future hearing, while the family of the victims is strongly in favour of the tougher designation.

The hearing, which is scheduled to last three weeks, comes just ahead of Schoenborn's annual review before the B.C. Review Board in late May.



Bylaws closes 22 pot shops

Vancouver's crackdown on unlicensed medical marijuana dispensaries began with inspectors issuing 44 tickets while the city has confirmed 22 stores have already closed.

But cannabis advocate Jodie Emery says many owners are refusing to shut their doors and are mulling legal action as the fight between the city and pot shops heats up.

The city became the first in Canada to develop regulations for medical marijuana businesses last year, but it refused to grant permits to 140 stores that violated certain rules including being too close to schools.

On Saturday, the city started issuing tickets to unlicensed stores and says those that continue to operate without a business licence will face a $250 fine for every day they stay open.

The city says staff will continue with enforcement this week while working on compiling the necessary information to take legal action against locations that flout city rules.

Emery says dispensary operators are considering lawsuits of their own to challenge what she says are overly restrictive, unfair and unjustifiable regulations.



Amanda Todd trial delayed

The trial of a Dutch man facing child pornography and extortion charges against 39 people, including one Canadian, has once again been delayed.

Aydin Coban's previous lawyer, Christian van Dijk, still follows the proceedings closely and says his former client's case likely won't go to trial now until after summer.

Coban also faces extradition to Canada on five charges connected to British Columbia teenager Amanda Todd, who killed herself in October 2012 after being bullied by an online harasser.

It's uncertain how the criminal trial's delay will affect the extradition hearing, which was scheduled to begin in June following the Dutch trial.

Coban's current lawyer, Robert Malewicz, was given a month to prepare but complained that four weeks wasn't enough time to ready a proper defence.

He quit the case on Friday after being told the trial would go forward on Monday, a decision the court recanted today.



Playland set to open

Let the fun begin!

B.C.'s iconic Playland amusement park is opening this weekend for the season.

Popular rides like The Beast, the Hellevator, the Wooden Roller Coaster and the Flume will be ready for thrill seekers.

The park will only be open weekends until June 17, when it opens weekdays as well. 

The PNE is owned by the City of Vancouver and operates as a non-profit charity organization. Founded in 1910, it spreads out over from a 114-acre site at Hastings Park.

It attracts more than three million visitors a year.



Watchdog investigates death

A man has died in Abbotsford and the province's independent police watchdog is checking any possible connection between his death and the actions of officers.

A news release from the Abbotsford Police Department says officers were called to a report of a fight at a business, in the Clearbrook area of the Fraser Valley city, at about 8:30 Sunday night.

It says that when police arrived, they found an unconscious man without any vital signs.

Resuscitation efforts began immediately and paramedics took over as soon as they arrived, but the 54-year-old man was pronounced dead in hospital a short time later.

Police contacted the Independent Investigations Office to determine if any police action contributed to the death.

The IIO must investigate all cases of police-involved death or serious injury involving municipal or RCMP detachments in B.C.



Fires threaten northern BC

Unseasonable heat is once again searing northeastern British Columbia, fuelling wildfires that have prompted evacuation alerts around two communities.

The Peace River Regional District says residents about 60 kilometres northeast of Fort St. John should be ready to leave on short notice as the Siphon Creek wildfire is uncontained and burns nearby.

It has now charred an estimated 40-square kilometres, more than doubling in size since Friday, in part because of temperatures that reached 23 Sunday and are slated to reach 27 degrees this week.

Winds gusting to 40 kilometres per hour are also forecast, potentially complicated firefighting efforts in the Cecil Lake area about 30 kilometres east of Fort St. John, where two small wildfires threaten a number of homes.

The B.C. Wildfire Service says the Voight Creek fire is now 85 per cent contained, and guards surround 75 per cent of the Clearview fire, but crews will keep a close watch on conditions through the day.

Wildfire experts add 40 active fires larger than 10 hectares are currently burning in the province.



Evac. alert near Ft. St. John

The Peace River Regional District has issued an evacuation alert for multiple homes in the Cecil Lake area in northeast B.C.

Two small wildfires, about 10 and 12 hectares in size, are burning south of Cecil Lake Road, about 30 kilometres east of Fort St. John.

The district issued the evacuation alert Sunday evening for properties within several blocks of the fires as ground crews and one helicopter attempted to contain the flames.

Evacuation alerts are meant to prepare residents to be ready to evacuate their homes at a moment's notice if it is deemed necessary.

The B.C. Wildfire Service says there are currently 40 active fires larger than 10 hectares burning in the province.

Last month a number of large blazes in northeastern B.C. destroyed a house and forced evacuations from about 500 other homes.



3 pedestrians hit by car

One person is in critical condition after three people were struck by a car Saturday evening in Surrey.

Around 6:45 p.m., RCMP responded to a car crash in the intersection of 138th Street and 72nd Avenue.

Police said two cars had collided before one of the vehicles struck the pedestrians, pinning one person under the vehicle.

Emergency crews freed the trapped person.

Police say a woman suffered life-threatening injuries and is in critical condition.

A man with serious head and facial injuries as well as a second woman with non-life threatening injuries were also taken to the hospital and are currently in stable condition.

The drivers of the cars involved in the crash remained on the scene. Mounties say alcohol and drugs do not appear to have been a factor in the collision.

- with files from CTV



Coast Guard still not 24/7

A Vancouver coast guard base controversially shuttered by the previous Conservative government has reopened, but a union spokesman says it lacks around-the-clock rescue capacity.

Kitsilano station opened on Sunday with two rigid inflatable vessels, one pollution-response vessel and three crew members, said Bill Tieleman of the Union of Canadian Transportation Employees.

"The government promised in the election campaign that it would be restored to a full 24/7 search and rescue centre. That's what the union expects to happen. This is not it," he said.

The Canadian Coast Guard has described the opening on Sunday as "soft launch," with a full launch planned for June, but it isn't clear whether it will increase the number of staff or vessels.

The base was closed as a cost-cutting measure in 2013. When a bulk grain carrier spilled at least 2,700 litres of bunker fuel into English Bay last April, city officials complained that the response could have been faster if the base had been open.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised on the campaign trail to reopen the station, and Fisheries Minister Hunter Tootoo vowed in December that it would be an around-the-clock operation. The 2016 federal budget committed $23 million over five years to re-open Kitsilano.

Tieleman said starting Sunday, the station will be staffed by three employees who work eight hours and are on call for 16 hours. While on call, they must be within 30 minutes of the station, he said.

"They are not working 24/7," he said. "If there is an emergency after daytime operating hours, they're on call to go and respond."

Before the base was closed, it was staffed 24 hours a day by a crew of 13, allowing three staff members to be on site at all times, he said.

Tieleman also said the base used to have a large all-weather cutter called the Osprey, but that vessel was decommissioned and sold after the base closed.

Instead, the base opened Sunday with one rigid inflatable vessel with a cabin called the CCGS Moorhen, one without a cabin called the CCGS Kitsilano 1, and a pollution-response vessel for oil spills, said Tieleman.

The Canadian Coast Guard did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Sunday, but Assistant Commissioner Roger Girouard said in an email to coast guard personnel that officials have worked hard on a tight time frame to get the station ready.

"It has been renovated, and equipment and assets are in place to support 24/7 operations," he said in the email dated Saturday.

Girouard added that the coast guard continued to work on a plan for the station's enhanced marine response capacity, which will include environmental response ability, emergency response training and an exercise program for partners, local First Nations and coastal communities.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Coast Guard is still planning to close a marine communication and traffic services centre in Comox on Vancouver Island, according to the union representing employees there.

Unifor has said that if the Comox centre's closure is allowed to go ahead on May 10, despite the protests of frontline coast guard officers, there will be fewer back-ups in case of emergency.

By monitoring traffic, the centres are the "first line of defence" for mariners in distress or when an ecological disaster strikes, the union said. Over the last two years nine of 22 marine communciation and traffic centres have been closed.



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