Sunday, October 4th1.4°C

Human remains discovered

The RCMP located human remains near Powell River on Friday evening.

The BC Coroners Service was notified and has commenced an investigation into this discovery. At this time the remains have not been identified, nor a cause of death established.

The Powell River RCMP is continuing their investigation with the assistance of the Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit (VIIMCU).

The deployment of VIIMCU is common practice in such cases where the identity and cause of death are not immediately apparent.

No further information will be released at this time, as this investigation is in the preliminary stages.

There are no indications that this discovery represents a risk to public safety.

Jury reviews murder-suicide

A coroner's jury has made 25 recommendations after reviewing evidence in the deaths of a Prince Rupert, B.C., mother and her severely autistic son.

Thirty-nine-year-old Angie Robinson killed her herself on April 3, 2014, after taking the life of her autistic 16-year-old son Robert.

The jury heard the Ministry of Children and Family Development had received nine reports about incidents of child-safety protection, but closed the mother's case in December 2013 because there were no new events.

Among its recommendations, the jury called for the ministry to provide child safety training to social workers dealing with special needs children to identify when to involve child services.

It also called for a review of the autism funding cap of $6,000 per year for children over age 6 and consider increasing funding to ensure higher need children are being accommodated.

The jury also recommended that the ministry ensure caregivers of special needs children, living with conditions such a mental health issues or domestic violence, are assessed to determine appropriate support requirements.

The Canadian Press

Shuswap actor's big break

Gracey Dove admits she has been dancing.

The Vancouver-based actor, from the Shuswap Nation's Canim Lake band, announced on social media this week she will star in a movie with Leonardo DiCaprio.

The Revenant is based on a true story about 19th century explorer Hugh Glass, who was left for dead in the wilderness after a bear attack. DiCaprio plays Glass.

"There's no going back. It's official,'' said Dove's excited announcement. "You'll see me on the big screen next year."

"I am absolutely thrilled to finally be able to reveal the biggest news of my life thus far," said Dove. "I had the honour this summer to work alongside some of the biggest names in the industry, and I am so grateful to the creator and my ancestors for guiding me through this whirlwind of an adventure."

"I am so excited to announce that I play #LeonardoDicaprio's wife in his upcoming film #TheRevenant directed by none-other than oscar winning director Alejandro González Iñárritu!"

Dove currently works on UnderExposed on APTN, an adventure sports TV series.

20th Century FOX has released an official trailer of the film, which is set for release on Christmas Day.

Contributed 20th Century FOX

Natives expect LNG cash

A Vancouver Island First Nation exploring the potential of locating a liquefied natural gas export plant on its treaty lands expects a lucrative future financial offer to be part of the negotiations.

Chief Robert Dennis of the Huu-ay-ayt First Nation near Port Alberni did not specify a financial amount, but said Friday the recent $1.1-billion offer to a northwest B.C. First Nation to support a proposed LNG project near Prince Rupert sets the stage for LNG talks.

Vancouver-based Steelhead LNG is planning to locate two LNG plants on aboriginal lands and is working with the Malahat First Nation, on southern Vancouver Island, and the 750-member Huu-ay-ayt.

"Let's make no bones about it, Petronas has set a bar by offering $1.1 billion to the Lax Kw'alaams (First Nation) community," said Dennis.

Last May, members the Lax Kw'alaams near Prince Rupert, rejected a 40-year benefit deal from developers of the proposed Pacific NorthWest LNG plant at Lelu Island. Malaysian energy giant Petronas is the major backer of the $36 billion project, which has the support of the B.C. government.

Dennis said the Huu-ay-aht nation has been in talks with Steelhead and those negotiations include environmental, cultural and economic issues, but they have yet to include financial offers.

"We are reasonably satisfied with the level of consultation," he said.

Plans to build the two LNG plants on Vancouver Island received federal approval Friday for five export licences.

But Steelhead CEO Nigel Kuzemko said other regulatory hurdles remain and a final investment decision to proceed is up to two years away.

"Now we're at the point where we can say, yes, if we get all other approvals together and we can make the environmental challenges valid and we can understand local community support, then we can have a project that can work, as long as we can make it work financially," he said.

Steelhead's proposed Malahat LNG project near Victoria received approval from the National Energy Board for one licence to export up to six million tonnes of LNG for 25 years.

The proposed floating LNG terminal will be located adjacent to an industrial zoned waterfront site at Saanich inlet about 30 kilometres north of Victoria. The Malahat First Nation purchased the 525-hectare Bamberton site last summer.

The other four export licences apply to the proposed LNG plant on Huu-ay-aht treaty land at Sarita Bay, about 75 kilometres southwest of Port Alberni. The licences approve the export of up to 24 million tonnes of LNG for 25 years.

Kuzemko said the two projects involve connecting Steelhead to existing natural gas pipelines that run from northeastern B.C. to the Lower Mainland. Steelhead then plans to build a new pipeline that connects to gas facilities in Washington state, and then build another pipeline underwater across to Vancouver Island.

Kuzemko said the new pipelines would be about 120 kilometres long. Steelhead also proposes to build a 75-kilometre land pipeline to Sarita Bay from the Malahat site once the Malahat project is in operation, he said.

"It would be one pipeline route that could supply both projects," he said.

Malahat First Nation CEO Lawrence Lewis said the agreement with Steelhead to develop the floating LNG plant near Victoria is a chance to protect aboriginal rights while practising environmental stewardship.

The Canadian Press

UBC building aims high

One of the tallest wood buildings in the world will soon be constructed at UBC, providing housing for hundreds of students. When completed, the $51.5-million residence building will stand 53 metres tall (about 174 feet).

“This beautiful, new tall wood building will serve as a living laboratory for the UBC community,” said Martha Piper, interim president. “It will advance the university’s reputation as a hub of sustainable and innovative design, and provide our students with much-needed on-campus housing.”

Construction of the 18-storey wood student residence will begin later this fall, and the building is set to open in September 2017. It will house 404 students in 272 studios and 33 four-bedroom units, and feature study and social gathering spaces. There will also be a ground-floor lounge and study space for commuter students.

“This project shows that when it comes to building with wood, B.C.’s innovation can’t be beat,” said Steve Thomson, minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. “By taking advantage of new building technologies, we’re also expanding our markets for B.C. wood products – and supporting jobs in the forest sector.”

In addition to its primary function as a student residence, the building will serve as an academic site for students and researchers, who will be able to study and monitor its operations.

The tall wood building will consist of a mass timber superstructure atop a concrete base. Wood is a sustainable and versatile building material that stores, rather than emits, carbon dioxide. UBC aims for the building to achieve a minimum LEED Gold certification, a rating system that evaluates how environmentally friendly a structure is in its design and energy use.

UBC’s Student Housing and Hospitality Services, the Binational Softwood Lumber Council, Forestry Innovation Investment, Natural Resources Canada and B.C.’s Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations are contributing funding for the building.

Any additional costs related to design and construction have been funded through external sources. Students will pay the same for rent at the tall wood building compared to similar accommodations at other student residences on campus.

UBC Properties Trust is managing the project. The project’s architect, Vancouver’s Acton Ostry Architects, is working in collaboration with tall wood advisor Architekten Hermann Kaufmann from Austria. Fast + Epp, another local firm, is the structural engineer.

Diplomatic link to murder

There could be a diplomatic link to a Lower Mainland kidnapping and homicide.

According to CTV News in Vancouver, a vehicle with red diplomatic plates arrived at a court hearing for four men accused in the case.

Also, the Chinese consulate in Vancouver told CTV it is working with police, but would not say anything further.

The victim in the case was discovered in the trunk of a vehicle on Willingdon Avenue early Tuesday. RCMP made the discovery while responding to an alleged kidnapping.

Police have said little about the case and have not revealed the identify of the victim. They have said the attack seems targeted.

Four men, Tian Zhang, 23, Casey James Hiscoe, 21, Dyllan James Green, 20, and Jacob Michael Gorelik, 18, have been charged with interfering with a dead body.

Two of the four, Zhang and Hiscoe, are also charged with kidnapping with intent to hold for ransom.

– with files from CTV Vancouver

Lower pay, no bonus

TransLink is in the market for a new CEO who is willing to earn a little less than his or her predecessor.

The new boss also won't receive bonuses or a vehicle allowance.

This according to the Metro Vancouver Mayors' Council on Regional Transportation.

Former TransLink CEO Ian Jarvis earned $425,000, including a $97,000 bonus and an $18,000 vehicle allowance.

The new person in charge will be asked to take a salary between $325,000 and $406,000.

The TransLink board is being asked to target a low to mid-range salary.

On top of this, the board also announced it will eliminate vehicle allowances for all executives.

In a statement, board chair Barry Forbes said the board recognized the public has a vested interest in the compensation paid of those working in the public sector.

"We believe that by eliminating bonuses and car allowances, and cutting the number of senior positions at TransLink, we have addressed those concerns," said Forbes.

 – with files from CTV Vancouver

Native land rights ignored

Two First Nations fighting to overturn approval of the Northern Gateway pipeline project say federal officials refused to discuss their claim of decision-making power over ancestral lands.

Lawyer Cheryl Sharvit says the Nadleh Whut'en and Nak'azdli are not asserting the right to veto resource projects on traditional territories in British Columbia's Central Interior.

But she says the bands' asserted authority to govern their lands should have at least been considered by the Crown during consultations on the $7-billion pipeline proposal from Calgary-based Enbridge.

Instead, the Crown excluded the issue from the talks, stating the question of control over First Nations' territories would be better dealt with in the treaty process.

Eight aboriginal bands are in the Federal Court of Appeal in Vancouver arguing Canada violated its legal duty to consult and accommodate First Nations before issuing conditional approval of the project.

The 1,200-kilometre twin pipeline would carry diluted bitumen from Alberta's oilsands to the coastal district of Kitimat, for tanker shipment overseas.

The Canadian Press

Golden remembrance

Three farmworkers who died when an overloaded van crashed on a British Columbia highway will be honoured with a monument in Abbotsford.

The nearly seven-metre Golden Tree monument featuring the images of three women in its twisting gold-leafed trunk will be unveiled Saturday on the grounds of the Friendship Garden behind the city's public library.

Thirty-one-year-old Sarbjit Kaur Sidhu, 52-year-old Amarjit Kaur Bal and 46-year-old Sukhvider Kaur Puna were killed in March 2007 when a van struck a concrete median on Highway 1 near Abbotsford.

They were among 17 women plus a driver on their way to work in a poorly maintained 15-passenger vehicle that was equipped with two seatbelts.

A coroners jury in 2009 recommended that 15-passenger vans be classified as high-risk vehicles and that farmworkers be given better education about their rights.

Labour Minister Shirley Bond says changes have been made to improve the safety of farmworkers and that she hopes the statue will raise awareness about the importance of farm work in B.C.

The Canadian Press

Time for winter tires

What's on your wheels?

Despite sunny skies above, as of Oct. 1, drivers must have winter tires to drive many B.C. highways.

While lower-elevation roads may seem harmless for the time being, snow has already been reported on the Coquihalla Highway and Okanagan Connector.

The provincial government says winter tires must be in good condition, with a minimum tread depth of 3.5 millimetres. Large commercial vehicles must carry chains.

Locally, these highways include Highway 97, from Vernon to Penticton, Highway 97C, from Kelowna to Merritt, and the Coquihalla, Highway 5.

A full map of highways requiring winter tires can be found here.

“These routes are generally located approaching high mountain passes, and highways which see significant winter conditions and where conditions can change from rain to snow quickly,” the province said in a press statement.

Appropriate tires should have either the snowflake symbol or the letters M+S, for mud and snow. These can include all-season tires, which have the M+S logo, and winter tires, which have the snowflake. All-weather tires carry both symbols.

Drivers found without proper winter tires on their vehicle face a $121 fine, and those without the minimum tread depth face a $109 fine.

Despite forecasts of a potentially milder winter, due to a strong El Nino and the Pacific decadal oscillation, mountain pass highways in the Okanagan are known for their volatile weather and fast-changing patterns. 

Inquest mulls tragic deaths

Members of a coroner's jury are scheduled to begin deliberating later today the deaths of a Prince Rupert, B.C., mother and her severely autistic son.

Thirty-nine-year-old Angie Robinson killed herself on April 3, 2014, after taking the life of her 16-year-old son Robert.

The week-long coroner's inquest into their deaths heard from 27 witnesses and wrapped up yesterday.

Tracy Beynon of the Ministry of Children and Family Development says workers knew about domestic abuse in the home and suicide attempts by the mother but failed to intervene.

She says workers discussed whether Angie should live in a women's shelter but were unable to provide adequate care for Robert.

Beynon says she had three interactions with Angie in 2013, but none was in person, the ministry received nine reports about incidents of child-safety protection, but closed the mother's case that December because there were no new events.

Dr. Evan Adams of the First Nations Health Authority says jurors must address inequalities in the health-care system.

"It does absolutely sound like this family fell through the cracks, and they didn't receive the kinds of services that would have been helpful to them," says Adams.

"What were the entry points that she, the mom, and the rest of the family, and her extended family, how could they have introduced them into the health system?

The Canadian Press

Wine Fest kicks off

The 35th annual Fall Okanagan Wine Festival kicked off today, Oct. 1, and runs until Oct. 11.

The annual celebration put on by the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society is expected to attract over 20,000 visitors to enjoy more than 125 events throughout the Valley.

The festivities kick off with the annual British Columbia Wine Awards Reception in Kelowna Oct. 1 - the oldest and largest British Columbia wine competition in the province.

A lucky few will be attending the sold out Fall WestJet Wine Tastings event Friday and Saturday night.

The 10-day festival then wraps up Thanksgiving weekend with two new events – The Valley First “Cropped” – Canada’s largest public tasting of B.C. wines and authentic farmer’s market in Penticton, and a farm-to-table Sparkling Brunch in Osoyoos at Watermark Beach Resort.

“The Okanagan Fall Wine Festival over the years has been a strong component of the growing economy in the Okanagan Valley. We have an incredible choice of cellar door experiences and range of wine styles, varietals as well as price points with increasingly outstanding experiences and product offerings in the Okanagan Valley,” says Ingrid Jarrett, president of the BC Hotel Association, and general manager of Watermark Beach Resort.

Organizers are especially excited about this year's event as wineries up and down the Valley are finishing their harvest of a potentially banner crop.

“With an early start to the spring season in B.C., the 2015 growing year was remarkable for its warmth and dry conditions - ideal for ripening both whites and reds,” says Val Tait, general manager and winemaker at Bench 1775 winery.

“Moderate temperatures in the fall slowed fruit development yielding balanced acids and sugars. Wines have the potential to be exceptional where fruit was not picked too early.” 

On top of their flagship events, restaurants and wineries around the Okanagan jump on board with special events, set course menus and wine galore.

You can get full details about the entire festival here.

NDP invites Miley back

A provincial politician from British Columbia's Interior is inviting superstar Miley Cyrus to take her wrecking ball to the ongoing wolf cull in her region and save caribou.

The B.C. government shot 84 wolves last year, saying the animals pose an immediate threat to the survival of caribou herds in the Kootenays and northeastern B.C.'s Peace regions.

But the cull drew the attention of Cyrus who urged millions of her Instagram and Twitter followers to call for a halt to the cull and visited B.C.'s Great Bear Rainforest recently.

New Democrat Michelle Mungall, who represents the Kootenay riding of Nelson-Creston in the legislature, is inviting Cyrus to visit her region, too.

She says Cyrus's powerful voice may be able to save wolves and caribou.

Environmental and conservation groups say natural resource development has destroyed and encroached upon caribou habitat and wolves are now the scapegoat.

The Canadian Press

Lawsuit over memorial

The founder of a memorial to Vancouver's murdered and missing women is taking the city to court, alleging defamation and breach of contract.

Sean Kirkham, also known as Sean Faludi, conceived of the "The Living Stones" project, which was to see 62 plaques installed at the last-known locations of the missing or murdered women.

Only four plaques were ever installed and they were removed earlier this year due to what one city spokesman called a lack of consensus among the womens' families.

In a notice of claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court, Kirkham alleges a city councillor defamed him in news stories, and the city breached its contract by eliminating the project and refusing to return the memorial stones.

None of the allegations have yet been tested in court, and the city did not comment by publication.

City Coun. Kerry Jang who is accused in the notice of defaming Kirkham but is not personally named as a defendant declined to comment because it's a legal matter.

The Canadian Press

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