May 17, 2013 / 8:10 pm
A former British Columbia lieutenant governor appointed five months ago to help implement recommendations from the Robert Pickton inquiry resigned Friday, saying he's been "served with documents" related to a series of lawsuits filed by the children of four murdered women.
But Steven Point's departure raised immediate questions about the explanation both he and the provincial government provided, with the mother of one of Pickton's victims saying Point told her he was considering stepping down more than a month ago and the lawyer involved in the lawsuits denying Point has been formally served with anything.
Point, who was appointed chair an advisory committee last December, said his resignation was prompted by four lawsuits filed earlier this month by children of women whose remains or DNA were found on the serial killer's farm.
"Litigation has been commenced by certain family members of the victims of Pickton, and I have been served with documents that have put me on notice regarding this litigation," Point wrote in a letter to Attorney General Shirley Bond, dated Friday.
Bond released her own statement that said "the plaintiffs have put Mr. Point on notice" that his public comments could become evidence in the civil case. A ministry spokeswoman later said the families sent Point a copy of the statements of claim, which he interpreted as having been "put on notice."
Point was appointed to help oversee the implementation of a report prepared by Wally Oppal, who spent months hearing evidence about the failed police investigations into Pickton and reports of missing sex workers. Oppal's report included 63 recommendations.
Earlier this month, the children of four women filed separate lawsuits against Pickton, his two siblings, the B.C. government and the City of Vancouver, seeking damages for the women's deaths and the botched investigation that failed to prevent them.
A lawyer for the victims' families, Jason Gratl, said neither he nor his clients have ever suggested Point could be dragged into the civil case.
Although he didn't want to be quoted, Gratl was clearly upset with what he perceived as an attempt to blame the children of the women for Point's decision to resign. He provided a copy of the email he sent Point, along with the statements of claim, which made no mention of Point becoming a potential witness.
"I appreciate that neither of you are parties to the action," Gratl wrote in an email to both Point and Oppal, dated May 8.
"But I thought you might be asked to comment on the claims at some point, and it might be of assistance to you if you had a chance to review them first," the email stated.
Michele Pineault, whose daughter Stephanie Lane was among the many women whose remains were found on Pickton's farm, was skeptical of Point's resignation.
Pineault was at an Assembly of First Nations event in Edmonton in early April, which she said was attended by Point and other family members connected to the Pickton case.
"We had dinner, Steven Point was there with all the family members, and told us that he had been thinking about stepping down, that he had family issues and it was a difficult task (chairing the advisory committee)," Pineault said in an interview.
"That was before any lawsuits before any family members, so I don't like the fact that he is now using the backs of the families to step down. He could have done that graciously on his own."
Point did not return email and telephone messages seeking further explanation about his resignation.
Bond, the attorney general, had little to say about Pineault's claims that Point was already considering stepping down.
"Mr. Point's resignation letter speaks for itself," Bond said in a written statement.
May 17, 2013 / 5:16 pm
On the eve of the Victoria Day long weekend, the BC Coroners Service is warning residents to take extreme care near streams and rivers which are currently running much faster and higher than normal.
People can significantly underestimate the force that can be unleashed by a fast-running river, said Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe, and do not realize how different it is from the quiet stream where they regularly swim, raft or paddle.
Three such deaths already have occurred this spring: two young men swept away in Golden Ears Provincial Park, and a young woman who fell into Swift Current Creek near Valemount.
If a river is running quickly, about 15 1/4 centimetres (or six inches) of water can sweep a person downstream, and a little over six-tenths of a metre (or two feet) of water can carry away most vehicles.
Although the bank of a fast-running creek may look stable, such banks are often eroded by the water and can collapse with the added weight of persons standing on them. Moving water or standing pools of water also can contain dangerous debris, so no one should try to walk or drive through them.
The warning comes as the BC Coroners Service releases its newest report into Accidental Drowning Deaths, covering the five-year period from 2008 through 2012. The report looks at a total of 397 deaths over the five-year period.
Of those, 58.7 per cent occurred in the summer months of May through August.
The statistics make clear the danger of mixing alcohol or drugs with water-related activities.
Of all deaths recorded, impairment by alcohol or drugs was a factor in 40.2 per cent of the cases.
Click here to view the full report.
May 16, 2013 / 6:57 pm
The Lower Mainland Emergency Response Team (ERT) has been deployed to Langley to assist in the 19800 block of 50A Avenue where a man has barricaded himself in his residence. Police believe the 27 year old male, who is known to police, may have a firearm.
Langley RCMP were called shortly before 4:00 this afternoon and after an initial assessment the ERT team was called to attend. They have established an inner perimeter while General Duty officers from Langley maintain the external perimeter. Police have taken necessary measures to safeguard other residents in the area by evacuating neighbouring homes.
Langley RCMP is communicating with the male, who is believed to be suicidal, by telephone. Police are attempting to successfully negotiate his peaceful surrender.
Updates will be provided as they become available.
May 16, 2013 / 4:32 pm
The BC RCMP are reminding the public to check the security features of all the bank notes that they receive, including the new polymer series notes.
A small number of counterfeit $100 polymer bills have recently been detected in the Lower Mainland.
The public can protect themselves by checking the security features of their notes or comparing suspicious notes with a genuine note.
“Protecting the economic integrity of Canada is one of the five National strategic priorities for the RCMP” says Sgt Duncan Pound, RCMP Federal Media Relations Officer for British Columbia.
“Crime Prevention is a cornerstone of the RCMP’s overarching approach to law enforcement, and working with the Bank of Canada to help educate the public about the security of Canadian bank notes is vitally important to us.”
Anyone with information about counterfeiting should contact the Federal RCMP at 778-290-4510, or anonymously through Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or www.bccrimestoppers.com
Training materials on counterfeit detection are available by calling the Bank of Canada’s toll-free number at 1 888 513-8212. They can also be accessed or ordered from their website.
Police would like to remind the public to check two or more security features on all bills they receive.
If you come across a bill you believe to be counterfeit, please contact your local police.
May 16, 2013 / 9:33 am
Cowichan Valley school trustees are closing the book on middle schools in that Vancouver Island district.
The closures take effect over the summer.
They come as the board grapples with a $3.7-million shortfall.
In all, six schools will be closed, with Grade 7, 8 and 9 middle school students redistributed to neighbouring elementary or secondary schools.
The district has also imposed an annual 200 dollar fee for students riding the school bus.
Cowichan Valley district Supt. Joe Rhodes blames declining enrolment for the financial crunch, saying time will tell if proposed revisions bring students and parents back to area schools. (CFAX)
May 16, 2013 / 5:00 am
With the May long weekend that typically kicks off the camping season nearly upon us, BC natural resource officers, park rangers and conservation officers will be busy ensuring everyone enjoys a safe and peaceful holiday.
Provincial officials naturally step up their enforcement during the holidays and they will be patrolling Crown land, waterways and recreations sites, while also enforcing forest recreation regulations.
Here is some important information to bear in mind over the long weekend:
- Many campgrounds have specified rules and guidelines. Visitors are asked to comply with the posted rules.
- Gates in provincial parks and some recreation sites are closed at 11 p.m., unless otherwise stated. Only registered campers are allowed in campsites after 11 p.m.
- Excessive noise is not permitted. Please remember that sound can travel far in the open air, especially music and loud talking.
- Liquor consumption is prohibited in parks, with the exception of your own campsite.
- Barbecues must be used on the ground unless barbecue attachments are provided on picnic tables.
- To avoid problems with bears, lock your food in your vehicle at night.Use the garbage containers that are provided and maintain a clean campsite. Never feed or approach bears.
- Designated swimming areas within marker buoys are intended to protect swimmers. All watercraft and water skiers must stay outside the markers.
- Lifeguards are not on duty in BC Parks or recreation sites.
- Visitors can use trails to travel safely through the most interesting and beautiful parts of BC Parks or recreation sites, without damaging sensitive and unique plant and wildlife habitat. Please stay on the trails.
- Always check the Wildfire Management Branch website - www.bcwildfire.ca before heading into the backcountry to find out if any open burning prohibitions are in effect.
- Make sure the campfire is completely extinguished and the ashes are cold to the touch before you leave it unattended for any period of time. Ensure that cigarette butts are properly extinguished in an ashtray and are not tossed away carelessly.
- Campfires cannot be larger than 0.5 metres in height and 0.5 metres in diameter (roughly 11/2 feet by 11/2 feet). You must maintain a one-metre fireguard around the campfire. This is a fuel-free area where all flammable materials (grass, kindling, etc.) have been removed.
- You may be held accountable for damages and fire suppression costs if your negligence results in a wildfire.
- Members of the public can report wildfires or unattended campfires by calling *5555 on a cellphone or by calling 1 800 663-5555 toll-free.
- Most provincial parks are closed to off-road vehicle use unless posted as open.
- Operators of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) are reminded that these Vehicles must be insured while being driven on forest service roads.
- Keep vehicles out of sensitive sites that are easily damaged, such as wetlands, grasslands, alpine areas and subalpine environments.
- Failure to comply with regulations could result in a fine of $575 or (in more serious cases involving damage) up to $100,000 and a year in jail.
- Make sure you have a valid angling licence (April 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014) and are aware of angling regulations for the waters in your area, including gear and bait restrictions.
- If you are operating a small vessel, ensure that you have your operator's licence with you and be aware of safety regulations for operating small vessels.
Pets must be kept on a leash at all times within provincial parks and in some recreation sites. Pets are not allowed inside park buildings.
May 15, 2013 / 7:17 pm
The body of a second young man who drowned at a park in Maple Ridge, has been recovered.
The 22-year-old and a friend were at a popular swimming hole at Golden Ears Provincial Park when they were swept away by the fast-moving waters on Friday.
Search and Rescue officials recovered the body of an 18-year-old male, but the older one remained missing until Wednesday.
RCMP Cpl. Alanna Dunlop says the loss of the two young men is tragic and affects many people.
The victims' names have not been released.
May 15, 2013 / 4:00 pm
Valemount RCMP say they have recovered a body from a creek, after a women was reported to have fallen.
The call came in around 9 p.m. Tuesday night that a 21-year-old female had fallen into Swift Current Creek, approximately 12.5 kilometres east of the junction of highway 16 and highway 5.
Robson Valley Search and Rescue was called to the area and organized a search of the creek, including areas farther downstream like the Fraser River.
A witness who had been walking along the riverbank found the body on a rocky sand bar in the middle of the creek, but due to the dangerous location rescue teams from McBride and Jasper were called in to recover the body.
No names have been released.
May 15, 2013 / 11:01 am
Beginning at noon today (May 15), a restriction will be placed on the size of open fires in the Kamloops Fire Centre.
This prohibition will apply to all areas of the Kamloops Fire Centre except for the Clearwater and Salmon Arm fire zones, which will be subject to the ban on June 15 when all open burning is prohibited in the area until Oct. 15.
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.
However the following activities will not be allowed:
- The burning of any waste, slash or other materials.
- The burning of more than one open fire of any size at the same time.
- The burning of recreational and ceremonial fires that exceed the size specified for campfires (0.5 m x 0.5 m).
- Stubble or grass fires of any size over any area.
- The use of fireworks, sky lanterns or burning barrels of any size or description.
Anyone found to be disobeying this prohibition may be issued a ticket for $345, or, if convicted in court, be fined up to $100,000 and sentenced to one year in jail. If the illegal burn causes or contributes to a wildfire, the person may be subject to a penalty of up to $10,000 and be ordered to pay all firefighting and associated costs.
The Kamloops Fire Centre stretches from the northern border of Wells Gray Park near Blue River to the U.S. border to the south, and from the Bridge River Glacier west of Gold Bridge to the Monashee Mountains east of Lumby.
They have already responded to 43 human-caused wildfires since April 1 – the largest of which grew to 1,400 hectares in size.
May 14, 2013 / 6:43 pm
Tech-savvy candidates have prompted Elections BC to issue a warning that the province's 17-year-old election law forbids Twitter and Facebook postings on voting day.
Elections BC spokesman Don Main says the agency was alerted that Liberal candidate Richard Lee, who is running in Burnaby North, had been tweeting, despite a provision in the Election Act that prohibits broadcasting or transmitting advertising on election day.
Main says Elections BC has interpreted that section of the act to include online postings to social media.
He says the parties have been warned, and Lee has since taken down his offending Twitter posts.
But it's not difficult to find other candidates who have posted on election day, including NDP Leader Adrian Dix, whose most recent tweet is timestamped at about 6 a.m.
Main says enforcement is complaint-driven, and he can't say what, if anything, could happen to candidates who tweeted on voting day.
May 14, 2013 / 3:30 pm
Spotty showers, cooler temperatures, and decreased winds, have allowed fire fighters to make good headway on the Spatsum Creek wildfire.
With no additional growth yesterday, the fire remains estimated at 1400 hectares in size.
Over 110 fire fighters are on site today, assisted by six helicopters and five water tenders.
More crews are continuing to arrive and a Type One Incident Management Team is now in place. A fire camp will be implemented for tomorrow.
This fire still continues to challenge crews due to steep slopes, rocky terrain, and windy conditions.
Crews have been successful establishing guard on the eastern flank up to Tremont Creek.
Today fire fighters will continue to build guard around the fire’s perimeter and helicopters will provide bucketing support.
This person-caused fire serves as a reminder for the public to be vigilant during this period of high fire danger rating.
Please report all wildfires at *5555 on your cellular phone or toll-free at 1-800-663-5555 to report a wildfire.
May 14, 2013 / 11:15 am
The officer found guilty in the sinking of the Queen of the North ferry will appeal his conviction in B.C. Supreme Court.
In a verdict handed down Monday, a jury convicted Karl Lilgert of criminal negligence causing the deaths of two passengers when the vessel struck an island and sank in March 2006.
Lilgert's lawyer, Glen Orris, says an appeal will be filed within 30 days.
Lilgert had testified he was navigating the ferry the best he could in rough weather when the ship missed a critical course change and slammed into Gil Island off the north coast.
The Crown argued that would not have happened if Lilgert had been paying attention to the ship's course.
Passengers Gerald Foisy and Shirley Rosette died in the sinking. (CKNW,News1130)
May 14, 2013 / 9:15 am
For the second time in a week, an accident involving an all-terrain vehicle has taken a life in northern British Columbia.
RCMP in Terrace say a 30-year-old Prince Rupert man died Sunday in a freak accident at the Exstew waterfall, just west of Terrace.
The man was riding with friends when his quad flipped as he crossed a washed out section of a forest service road.
As rescuers lifted the vehicle off the submerged victim, suction pulled him into the culvert under the road, then swept him into the river and over the nearby falls, where his body was recovered from pools below the waterfall a short time later.
On May 5, 28-year-old Angela Elizabeth Johnson, of Cluculz Lake died when she was pinned by her quad ATV after it flipped near her home, about 40 kilometres southeast of Vanderhoof.
Johnson was six months pregnant.
May 14, 2013 / 6:41 am
Relieved property owners in an area east of Ashcroft, were allowed to return to their homes Monday night -- but they must remain ready to flee at a moment's notice.
The 14-square kilometre Spatsum Creek wildfire continues to burn nearby and remains uncontained, but it has veered away from homes and away from Highway 97C, which was closed on Monday.
The highway reopened late Monday afternoon and the evacuation order was completely lifted by early Monday evening, as winds abated after fanning the fire through the weekend.
An evacuation alert is still in effect for a large area known as Blue Sky Country, just east of Ashcroft, and the Wildfire Management Branch confirmed about 80 firefighters, five helicopters, heavy equipment and air tankers battled the flames Monday.
The Spatsum Creek fire broke out on April 27 and is believed to have been caused by humans, one of 43 human-caused fires the Kamloops Fire Centre has responded to since April 1.
Because of recent hot, dry weather, all open burning has been prohibited in the fire centre, except in the Clearwater and Salmon Arm fire zones, but the ban will apply to those regions as of June 15.
May 13, 2013 / 4:50 pm
A rock fell off of a cliff and crushed to death a 10-year-old girl and her 49-year-old father. The pair had gone up Blackcombe to camp and ski tour.
Whistler RCMP are investigating the death of the two North Vancouver residents who were camping on Blackcomb Mountain this weekend. Whistler RCMP received the report the pair was missing at around 6 p.m. on May 12th after the skiers missed their scheduled check-in several hours earlier.
The report was that a father/daughter duo had gone up Blackcomb Mountain on May 11th to camp out overnight and ski tour, advised Sgt. Knapton, operations NCO for Whistler RCMP. They were to check in on the 12th around 4 p.m.. When they failed to check in relatives call the RCMP..
Upon receipt of the report, Whistler RCMP activated local search and rescue and coordinated a search in conjunction with Whistler Blackcomb Ski Patrol. The search ran from just after 7 p.m. until approximately 11 p.m. when it was suspended for the night due to safety reasons, noted Sgt. Knapton. "The search was reconvened this morning at 6:30 using multiple teams from Whistler, Squamish, Pemberton and Lions Bay, and included an air component."
At approximately 11:30 a.m. searchers located a tent above an area known as 'The Windlip'. The tent was located at the base of a rock face, advised Sgt. KNAPTON, From our investigation it appears that a large boulder fell from the rock face at some point, landing on the tent killing both occupants.
RCMP are not releasing the names of the deceased at this time.
May 13, 2013 / 4:34 pm
4:20 p.m. update: Highway 97C Road reopened at Ashcroft.
9:28 a.m. update: Highway 97C Closed in both directions from Ashcroft to Highland Valley Mine Overpass (31.2 km) because of Forest Fire. Estimated time of opening unknown; Assessment ongoing. Next up date at 12 p.m.
6 a.m.: DriveBC reports:
Highway 97C is closed in both directions from Ashcroft to Highland Valley Mine Overpass (31.2 km) because of a forest fire.
Estimated time of opening unknown; assessment ongoing.
Next update at 9 a.m.. No detour; alternate route available via Highway 5 and Highway 1.
Updated on Mon May 13 at 5:59 a.m.
May 13, 2013 / 1:40 pm
A man fishing on the Fraser River snagged a body in his net over the weekend, but before the net could be hauled in, the body slipped away.
The RCMP say a First Nation fisherman had placed his net in the river near Chilliwack Friday and when he checked it Saturday morning he saw a partially submerged body before the remains broke free of the netting in the fast-flowing river.
The body was described as having a small build, wearing a black jacket with a zipper up the wrist area.
The gender and age are not know.
The RCMP say a search along the river and from the air by a police helicopter failed to find the body and investigators are now checking missing person reports and appealing for help from the public.
May 13, 2013 / 6:33 am
Residents living in a rural area of B.C's southern interior, between Ashcroft and Kamloops, have been ordered to get out of the path of a raging wildfire.
An evacuation order was issued Sunday night for properties in the area known as Blue Sky Country, just east of Ashcroft, although the village of Ashcroft is not affected.
The Thompson-Nicola Regional District issued the evacuation order for properties from the north tip of Barnes Lake, west to the Thompson River, south to Basque and east to Highway 97.
The order to get out came as high winds fanned the two-week-old Spatsum Creek blaze, which had charred an estimated 11 square kilometres by late Sunday night, an increase of more than two square kilometres within hours.
One structure was destroyed early Sunday but fire officials say the flames are moving in a northeast direction, away from homes and toward Highway 97C.
Thirty-five firefighters worked through the night to protect properties closest to the flames and additional crews backed by heavy machinery, air tankers and five helicopters dropping retardant are expected to resume work on the human-caused fire at first light.
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