Ice cream tour of the city

What's better than a scoop of ice cream on a hot summer day? Three scoops, an ice cream sandwich, soft serve drizzled with chocolate syrup and a vegan charcoal banana coconut confection, of course.

That's what participants devoured on a recent Gourmet Ice Cream Tour in Vancouver, one of several culinary walking tours offered by Off The Eaten Track. 

The tour began at Railtown Cafe, which sells house-made ice cream, sorbet and vegan options made by pastry chef Alex Abley, who previously worked for famous Vancouver chocolatier Thomas Haas.

Hungry guests were each given a bowl containing strawberry and dulce de leche ice cream, as well as citrus pear sorbet. 

The tour guide then took the group to see a few of the sights in Railtown, allowing for some calories to be burned off before the next stop. 

With a history lesson out of the way, the group's attention returned to ice cream. Guests were taken to the beautiful Cadeaux Bakery, also in Railtown, where the group was introduced to the bakery's ice cream sandwich, a signature creation that is made in a different flavour every week.

The next stop was in Gastown at Soft Peaks Ice Cream. The shop serves organic soft-serve ice cream with unique toppings, including local honeycomb, Himalayan pink salt and sweet and sour Yuzu marmalade. Guests dove into a cup of creamy vanilla soft-serve topped with chocolate syrup and Tim Tams, an Australian chocolate biscuit.

The big finale was waiting for guests at Virtuous Pie, a vegan pizza-and-ice cream restaurant in Chinatown, where participants received either a bright-yellow scoop of turmeric black pepper or a tar-black serving of charcoal banana coconut.

Bonnie Todd, founder and owner of Off The Eaten Track, launched the company in 2012 in Vancouver and later expanded to Victoria. Tours in Vancouver also include a brunch tour, an "urban eats" tour of Railtown and a "sip, savour and shop" tour of Main Street in East Vancouver.


Touchscreen temptations

With a smartphone or a tablet in hand, we are more likely to treat ourselves with online purchases.

That is the conclusion from a recent study conducted at UBC's Okanagan campus.

“Touchscreen technology has rapidly penetrated the consumer market and embedded itself into our daily lives. Given its fast growth and popularity, we know surprisingly little about its effect on consumers,” said Ying Zhu, faculty of management assistant professor at UBCO, who spearheaded the study. 

Zhu added that the 'use of tactile technologies' is expected to represent nearly half of all e-commerce in 2018, to target the near two-billion smartphone users.

In the study, Zhu, along with co-author Jeffrey Meyer, noted the 'playful and fun nature of the touchscreen', which, as their findings indicate, contribute to the temptation to indulge in buying online. 

“Overall, what we learned is that using a touchscreen evokes consumers’ experiential thinking," Zhu added. “But my advice for consumers who want to save a bit of money is to put away the smartphone when you have the urge to spend on a guilty pleasure.” 

Evacuation order to alert

The Cariboo Regional District announced Sunday that the North Green Lake area evacuation order has been downgraded to an alert, and residents can now return home.

The alert in the south of Highway 24 area is being expanded, as of Aug. 20.  

The new alert area includes: East of Highway 97 to the Cariboo Regional District boundary and south of Highway 24 to the Cariboo Regional District Boundary.

Before deciding to return, residents are encouraged to consider that wildfire activity continues in these areas, air quality remains poor and the areas are still on evacuation alert.
Residents will be given as much advance notice as possible prior to evacuation; however resident may receive limited notice due to changing conditions.

Upon notification of an evacuation order downgrade, you should remain prepared for an evacuation by:

  • Having a plan to transport all family members or co-workers outside of the area, should the area be brought back under evacuation order.
  • Keeping essential items readily available for a quick departure; including medications, eyeglasses, valuable papers (i.e. insurance), immediate care needs for dependants and if you choose, keepsakes.
  • Ensuring that any dependants are prepared for departure.
  • Ensuring that pets and livestock remain in a safe area.
  • Ensuring that you have accommodation options for your family, if possible. Reception Centres will be made available again, if required.
  • Monitoring reliable news sources for evacuation order information. Further information will be issued as it becomes available. 

For Cariboo Regional District information, please visit their website.  


Hundreds return home

Hundreds of people are being allowed to return to Loon Lake, B.C., more than a month after flames forced them from their homes and destroyed dozens of buildings in the community.

The Thompson-Nicola Regional District lifted an evacuation order for 309 properties in the area, but an alert remains in place, warning residents that they may need to leave again on a moment's notice.

The evacuation order was issued in mid July when a fire threatened the community, located about 130 kilometres northwest of Kamloops in B.C.'s Interior.

About 40 structures were destroyed by the flames, including vacation properties and permanent homes, said Megan Gregory, an information officer with the regional district.

In late July, local authorities released footage taken by a drone flying over an area devastated by the flames. The video shows the crumpled remains of homes, the metal skeletons of vehicles, piles of ash and blackened trees.

"The landscape, from pictures people have been sharing, has significantly changed," Gregory said.

A meeting was held Sunday morning to give returning residents information on what they can expect to see and how to deal with some of the things they may encounter, including spoiled food and fridges that must be disposed of.

Overall, people are excited to return, Gregory said.

"From their interactions online and being part of some of their Facebook chats, they're a great group of people and they're so happy to be going home."

A lifted evacuation order is great news, but there are things residents need to remember as go home, said Chris Duffy with Emergency Management BC.

"We want to remind people as they're returning to their communities to be patient and respect the direction of first responders, local authorities, fire crews and the RCMP that are working in and around their community to keep them safe," he said.

About 3,800 people around the province remain displaced by the flames and another 9,700 are on evacuation alert.

In addition to the evacuation alert in Loon Lake, an area restriction remains in place, which prohibits the public from entering the vicinity.

Kevin Skrepnek, chief information officer for the BC Wildfire Service, said the ban is in place because fire crews are active in the area and hazards like damaged trees could remain in the fire's wake.

"Loon Lake itself is in the heart of where the fire did burn," Skrepnek said.

More than 1,000 fires have burned across B.C. since April 1, scorching about 9,000 square kilometres.

Scattered showers were seen across parts of the province over the weekend, but Skrepnek said people shouldn't get complacent because of the rain.

"By no means, has this rain done much to really alleviate our situation right now," he said.

Suspicious death in Surrey

Surrey RCMP are on the scene of a suspicious death.

On Aug. 20, just before 5:30 a.m., police were called to the 6900 Block of 127A Street for a report of a suspicious occurrence.

Upon arrival, police found an unresponsive adult victim located in a laneway near this location. The individual died from injuries and the manner of death is suspicious in nature.
The area surrounding the scene will be cordoned off for a significant amount of time. 

The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) has been called and will be working in partnership with the Surrey RCMP.
Anyone with information regarding this investigation can call the IHIT tipline at 1-877-551-IHIT (4448) or by email at [email protected]

Road rage turns up cash

A road rage incident resulted in an unexpected find for Mounties in Williams Lake.

Shortly after 8 a.m. Aug. 19, police responded to an escalating road rage incident in the parking lot of McDonalds.

Police arrested two men at the scene and continued their investigation by searching one of the associated vehicles, as a knife was reported to have been brandished during the confrontation.

Police located a trace amount of marijuana in the vehicle as well as $19,200 in cash which was seized under proceeds of crime.

“Each incident is unique in the policing world, and sometimes those incidents yield really good results. In this instance some illegitimate cash-flow has been taken off the streets,” said Const. Taylor CALLENS.

The men have since been released from custody, and charges are pending.

Boost for Cariboo tourism

The Province is giving tourism in the Cariboo region a financial boost.

The Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association (CCCTA) will be getting $200,000 to help with tourism-related impacts from the B.C. wildfires.

The government and the CCCTA will work together to ensure the funding targets the tourism recovery needs identified in the region.

The Province is currently assessing the needs of those affected by the wildfires in order to support them in the best way possible in the days and weeks ahead. 

Destination BC, the industry-led Crown corporation that markets British Columbia globally as a tourism destination, is developing a provincial wildfire tourism recovery plan that will also support the tourism industry by working in close collaboration with the regional destination marketing organizations.

The campaign has helped keep travellers informed on the areas in B.C. that are currently affected by evacuation alerts or orders, while ensuring tourists know B.C. remains open for business in many parts of the province that are not affected by fires.

Tourism is a major economic driver in B.C., employing 127,000 people within the province, supporting nearly 19,000 tourism-related businesses and contributing $7.4 billion toward the province's gross domestic product.

Message of love, tolerance

Messages of love, tolerance and understanding were shared by thousands of people who gathered on Saturday to protest racism and hate.

Signs reading "live with love," "diversity = strength" and "laundry is the only thing that should be separated by colour" were spotted above a packed crowd outside Vancouver's city hall.

Police said about 4,000 people attended the rally. 

Bob Chamberlin, vice-president of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, told those gathered that he draws strength from seeing so many people come together with love and respect.

Now is a critical time in Canadian history, he added, and all Canadians must stand together for reconciliation with First Nations to be successful.

"Let's pursue love, let's pursue acceptance, let's pursue understanding. And let's get beyond stereotypes and close-minded people," Chamberlin said.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson told the protesters that the city will not stand for hatred or inequality, but noted work still must be done to spread the message of understanding.

"There's more to do, we're not done," he said. "There are some among us here today who have not learned the message of peace and respect and understanding, of loving one another regardless of what we believe in or who we love or what we look like or where we came from."

There were reports earlier this week that an anti-Islam protest was planned, but it never materialized.

A handful of individuals opposing the anti-racism protesters showed up at the rally and were quickly ushered away by police when verbal confrontations appeared as though they could become physical.

Vancouver Police said Saturday afternoon that officers at the rally arrested five people for breaching the peace and two people were escorted away from the area "to prevent a disturbance."

Against alt-right

UPDATE: 5:45 p.m.

Vancouver police say a rally and counter protest at city hall is now over. Police indicate only about 200 people remain in the area.

Some city streets around city hall, which were closed due to the large numbers of people, have now opened again. Traffic is flowing normally.

Police stated just five people were arrested for breaching the peace. Two others were escorted out of the rally to prevent a disturbance, but were not detained.

There were no reports of assaults, and no injuries.

An alt-right protest had been scheduled, however, only a handful of people showed up. A majority of the 4,000 people were there in support of diversity and inclusiveness, and against racism and bigotry.

UPDATE 2:14 p.m.

Vancouver police estimate approximately 4,000 people are currently at City Hall for the far-right rallies, which have disrupted traffic flow in the area. ‎

The VPD is advising motorists to avoid the area around City Hall due to traffic congestion. VPD has closed West 12th Avenue from Main Street to Cambie Street.

Officers are describing the atmosphere at the event as friendly

UPDATE 1:54 P.M.

Chanting "No hate, no fear, Nazis are not welcome here" thousands of people are gathering in front of Vancouver City hall to protest an alt-right gathering.

CTV is reporting there was a small scuffle between counter-protesters and a man carrying an anti-immigrant sign, but police quickly intervened.

"The man holding the sign is surrounded by police. Tempers seem to have cooled," Tweeted CTV Vancouver reporter Breanna Karstens-Smith at around 1:30 p.m.

Members of alt-right groups and counter protesters are expected to gather in front of Vancouver City Hall this afternoon.

The 2 p.m. rally is being organized by World Coalition Against Islam Canada and the anti-immigration Cultural Action Party of Canada, but if Facebook is any indication, there will be a lot more counter protesters than alt-right members.

Several thousand people have said they will be at City Hall to protest the alt-right movement, while only a handful of alt-right supporters have stated publicly they are going.

Joey De Luca, the head of the Worldwide Coalition Against Islam Canada, is expected to address his supporters, according to the rally’s Facebook page.

Police will be on hand and both sides are being urged to remain peaceful in their respective camps.

The Vancouver event comes a week after one woman was killed and several people injured when an alt-right supporter allegedly drove his car into a group of counter protesters in Virginia.

Earlier today in Boston, an alt-right gathering was cut short due to the overwhelming number of protesters.

Winds don't fan flames

Two of British Columbia's biggest wildfires haven't grown much over the past few days despite being fanned by strong winds.

Kevin Skrepnek of the BC Wildfire Service says the winds arrived in the province on Friday as forecast but weren't as strong as feared.

He says there was some rain, cooler temperatures and higher humidity.

Skrepnek says the Hanceville-Riske Creek fire northwest of William's Lake was no bigger Saturday than it was Friday.

The Elephant Hill fire also remained the same size and is now believed to be 25 per cent contained.

Both blazes remain out of control.

Skrepnek says that despite the rain, it wasn't much, and 14 new fires were sparked since Friday including seven which are believed to have been caused by lightning.

"It still remains quite dry out there. Whatever showers we did see out there were sporadic and we are expecting another windy day today, unfortunately," Skrepnek told reporters on Saturday afternoon.

Crews with the wildfire service work on a maximum of 14 consecutive days, Skrepnek said, but given that it has been such a busy season and the wildfire service was involved in flood support in the spring, that maximum is being shortened when practical.

Skrepnek said the province has been hugely successful over the past month and a half in keeping new fires from becoming serious, noting the big fires they're fighting now began in early July.

He gave much of the credit for keeping the new fires from growing to people reporting the fires when they spot them.

Evac lifted for Loon Lake

Loon Lake residents will be going home Sunday.

While the Elephant Hill Wildfire remains active in some areas of the Thompson-Nicola region, the imminent threat posed by the fire has currently diminished to the point that property owners in the Loon Lake area can return to their properties effective 1 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 20.

Officials said work will continue today in the Loon Lake area to secure it for the safety of anyone returning to the area tomorrow, including addressing dangerous trees along public roadways and ensuring services such as community water, 911 Emergency, hydro and telephone are available.

Residents are reminded that the Loon Lake area remains on Evacuation Alert. While the Elephant Hill Wildfire remains active, residents need to stay vigilant and must be prepared to leave at any time. Residents will be given as much advance warning as possible prior to an evacuation; however at times only limited notice can be provided due to changing conditions.

There are areas surrounding Loon Lake that remain on evacuation order, and travel in these areas continues to be restricted.

RCMP will remain in the area to monitor and restrict access to those areas.

'The ingenuity amazes me'

Const. Pat Kelly of the Abbotsford Police Department bike squad made an unusual find earlier this week.

It was not a vast criminal empire, but it is the talk of the town.

While on pedal patrol, Kelly came across a bridge made of shopping carts, mattresses, pallets, sheets of plywood and a variety of other materials.

“The ingenuity amazes me,” Kelly wrote on his Twitter account that included a picture of the bridge that crosses a small stream.

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