Sunday, May 24th16.4°C

Fall from cliff kills man

UPDATE 6:30 P.M.

Police are investigating after the body of a young man was found at the base of a seaside cliff in Vancouver's Stanley Park.

Officers responded to calls about a body found on the seawall walkway (near Siwash Rock) shortly after 4 a.m. on Sunday.

A 23-year-old man was declared dead at the scene.

Police say they believe the man was attending a rave in a secluded area of the park (along Merilees Trail above Siwash Rock) when he tumbled off a cliff to his death.

They say the incident appears to be accidental and that officers have not confirmed whether drugs or alcohol were involved.

Anyone with information about the event is asked to contact the Vancouver Police Department.


Police are continuing to investigate the death of a young man in Stanley Park early this morning.

At about 4:20 a.m., police were called about a body on the seawall near Siwash Rock. Officers and paramedics arrived and the 23-year-old man was declared dead at the scene.

It is still early in the investigation, but it is believed the man was attending a rave in a secluded area in Stanley Park along Merilees Trail above Siwash Rock when he fell down the cliffs to his death. At this time the death appears to be accidental.

Investigators continue to identify and speak with potential witnesses and police will be working closely with the Coroners Service to confirm the cause of death and determine if alcohol or drugs may have played a role.

Anyone who witnessed the incident or the events leading up to it, and has not yet spoken with police, is asked to contact the VPD.


State of emergency

The mayor of a British Columbia village has declared a state of emergency and ordered dozens of residents to leave their homes after a violent storm tore through the province's Interior, leaving a trail of flooding and destruction in its wake.

It could be weeks or even months before some residents are allowed back, said Cache Creek Mayor John Ranta on Sunday.

So far about 40 residents have been ordered to evacuate in the village of about 1,000 located 80 kilometres west of Kamloops, B.C., he added. Another 80 are on evacuation alert.

"We'll do our best to ensure that they're allowed back as quickly as possible if (their homes) are deemed to be safe," he said.

The order to evacuate will keep people away until crews are able to assess the stability of the slopes above residences that are deemed at risk.

As of Sunday afternoon about 50 homes had been abandoned and nearly 100 people had registered at the emergency operations centre, said Ranta.

Rainfall levels had topped 26 millimetres in a single hour on Saturday, sending detritus-strewn mud and water pouring through the community's streets and shutting down two highways.

Ranta said he was in his car when the storm began shortly after 4 p.m. on Saturday, and that by 6:30 p.m. the village was devastated.

"It started off as a trickle that was going down the storm sewers, to a river that was running down the road with debris floating along," he said, describing the intensity of the rainfall as "unbelievable."

"It was raining just like you can't describe — rain combined with hail, coming down like the sky was falling."

Declaring a state of emergency could mean more financial support from the province for rebuilding on the heels of the disaster — especially important given that Ranta believes few homeowners have flood insurance.

Charlene Milward's 2,000-square-foot home is one such residence, where insurance may not cover the damage after her home was shoved off its foundation and her basement was completely filled with mud.

"She's pretty numb right now," said her mother Cheryl. "She's in disbelief."

Ranta called on the province and emergency response agencies to step in to help in situations such as this.

"Imagine how devastating it would be to lose your home to a rainfall event and not have insurance coverage," he said.

On Sunday, B.C. Premier Christy Clark tweeted her support for residents affected by the flooding.

Local Member of the Legislative Assembly Jackie Tegart said the situation is especially devastating for a semi-desert settlement like Cache Creek, which is unaccustomed to high levels of rainfall. But she noted that the community was banding together to recover.

"Small communities help each other," said Tegart. "And certainly from what I've seen and heard from people on the ground that's exactly what's happening."

Environment Canada said a severe thunderstorm watch remained in effect for Kamloops, the Okanagan and the Shuswap Sunday evening.

The Canadian Press

Headway made on wildfire

A wildfire raging mostly out of control over the past two weeks in British Columbia's Central Interior has been largely contained.

Fire teams have managed to bring the Little Bobtail Lake fire about 80 per cent under control, though about 80 people remain forced from their homes.

The province's Wildfire Management Branch says cooler, wet weather has helped with firefighting efforts, which are focused about 70 kilometres southwest of Prince George.

About 220 fire personnel are still on the scene, with many involved in what the branch describes as aggressive mop-up and patrol efforts.

The blaze has not grown since it spiked more than 40 per cent a week ago, from 170 square kilometres to 250 square kilometres.

An officer with the province's fire branch has raised concerns about such a large wildfire striking so early in the 2015 fire season.

The Canadian Press


Naramata Bench stories

The Naramata Bench Wineries Association (NBWA) is hosting the launch of the just published coffee table book,  “Naramata Bench Vineyards & Wineries."

The event is slated for 1 to 4 p.m., Friday, May 29 at Poplar Grove Winery in the Barrel Room.

Author Garth Eichel will be in attendance for the afternoon doing a book signing and Naramata Bench Wineries Association members will be there sharing wine tastings.

The idea for the book resulted from the Naramata Bench Wineries Association visits each year to Victoria to host Spring Wine Release events. Eichel was a beverage writer for the Times Colonist and became very familiar with the wines and wineries at these annual events.

The coffee-table-style book reveals the personal stories behind the region’s vineyards and wineries, and the winemaking philosophy of each.

Eichel is a writer, photographer, editor and publisher. He has written about wine, beer and spirits for a range of publications, including the Victoria Times Colonist Newspaper and Wine Access magazine.

The public is invited to drop by on Friday.

The book will be for sale locally at wineries featured in the book.

Homemade bombs hearing

Crown and defence lawyers were expected to make their closing arguments this week to the jury hearing the case of two people accused of plotting to set off homemade bombs on the lawn of the B.C. legislature.

John Nuttall and Amanda Korody were charged after an elaborate, months-long RCMP sting operation — they face three terrorism-related charges: conspiring to commit murder, possessing explosives on behalf of a terrorist group and conspiring to place explosives on behalf of a terrorist group.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Catherine Bruce entered a not guilty plea earlier this month on a fourth charge — knowingly facilitating a terrorist activity — citing unspecified legal reasons.

The two accused have pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The jury has watched and listened to reams of video footage and extensive audio recordings collected over months by police investigators with the help of several undercover officers who posed as terrorist liaisons and befriended the accused. Nuttall, who along with Korody converted to Islam, was heard on some of the recordings talking about the need to get justice for what he perceived to be persecution of Muslims.

Using what they believed were authentic al-Qaida connections, the couple allegedly acquired several kilograms of what police have testified were fake explosives prepared by RCMP experts to arm a trio of pressure cookers packed with nails and other deadly metal shrapnel. The Crown alleges the pair planned to set off the bombs at the legislature in 2013 on Canada Day.

The Crown also highlighted how often and forcefully the accused affirmed their commitment to maim and kill innocent people in order to spread their message to the Western world.

Nuttall and Korody's lawyers countered with a different interpretation of events, painting a picture of the couple as victims of police pressure.

The defence has pointed to instances where, they argue, undercover officers encouraged Nuttall and Korody to follow a quicker timeline for example, or to come up with a more feasible plan in lieu of some of the ideas they expressed on the recordings, such as a proposed scheme to hijack a nuclear submarine.

Neither accused testified.

Bruce is set to give legal instructions to the jury once the prosecution and defence lawyers have made their closing arguments.


The Canadian Press

Severe thunderstorm watch

UPDATE: 4:04 p.m.

Conditions are favourable for the development of severe thunderstorms that may be capable of producing large hail and heavy rain.

Severe thunderstorms may develop this evening as an upper disturbance moves over the region. The main threat will be isolated heavy downpours giving 15 to 25 mm within one hour as well as hail with diameter up to 15 mm. A watch is upgraded to a warning when severe thunderstorms are imminent.

Environment Canada meteorologists will update alerts as required. Please monitor local media or Weatheradio. To report severe weather, send an email to [email protected] or tweet reports to #BCStorm.

A severe thunderstorm watch is in effect for the Central Okanagan, including Kelowna, North Okanagan, including Vernon, and South Okanagan, including Penticton.

Conditions are favourable for the development of severe thunderstorms that may be capable of producing large hail and heavy rain.

A line of thunderstorms will develop near noon as an upper disturbance moves over the region. The main threat will be isolated heavy downpours giving 15 to 25 mm within one hour as well as hail with diameter up to 15 mm. A watch is upgraded to a warning when severe thunderstorms are imminent.

Fast moving water across a road can sweep a vehicle away. Large hail can damage property and cause injury. Be prepared for severe weather.

Take cover immediately, if threatening weather approaches. Lightning kills and injures Canadians every year. Remember, when thunder roars, go indoors!

Environment Canada meteorologists will update alerts as required.

Please monitor local media or Weatheradio. To report severe weather, send an email to [email protected] or tweet reports to #BCStorm.

Town looks like a war zone

The mayor of a small British Columbia town is looking to declare a state of emergency after a violent storm tore through the province's Interior and left a trail of damage and flooding in its wake.

Cache Creek Mayor John Ranta says about 50 people were forced from their homes on Saturday after rainfall levels in the area topped 26 millimetres in a single hour.

Ranta says declaring a state of local emergency in the community near Kamloops could mean more financial support for rebuilding in the damaged community of about 1,000 residents.

Cache Creek Volunteer Fire Dept. Chief Tom Moe says the town looks like a war zone, with damage and debris strewn everywhere.

Moe says fire crews had difficulty responding to emergency calls on Saturday because a mud flow had forced its way through the department's bay doors and spewed through the fire hall.

On Sunday, B.C. Premier Christy Clark tweeted her support for residents affected by the flooding.

Environment Canada says a severe thunderstorm watch remains in effect for Kamloops, the Okanagan and the Shuswap. 

The Canadian Press

Debit cards compromised

More than 1,000 Lower Mainland residents have had their debit cards compromised in a security breach stemming from a card-skimming scheme.

“We found ... from Central One, our card provider, that two Vancouver-area retailers have had their card machines compromised as a result of a skimming operation,” Vancity credit union spokesperson Darwin Sauer told CTV.

Other credit unions and banks were also affected, Vancity says.

The accounts were compromised using manipulated or swapped-out Interac terminals to obtain the card-holders' PIN numbers.

“This could mean any customer who used those card machines or had their card go through those machines could have had their card compromised,” Sauer said.

Vancity says 1,200 customers used their debit cards at the locations, which have not been named. So far, only two have notified the credit union about questionable transactions.

As a precaution, Vancity has contacted all the customers and placed limits on transactions until they can get new  cards.

“Most financial institutions, we're assuming, do what we've done today, which is put limits on the cards and also notify members immediately,” Sauer said.

– with files from CTV Vancouver

Flash floods in Cache Creek


Highway 1 has now reopened in both directions after being closed due to flooding. DriveBC warns motorists to use caution.

UPDATE 7:37 P.M.

Highway 1 is still closed in both directions. Volunteer search manager, Alan Hobler, said Kamloops Search and Rescue were en route to Cache Creek, due to reports that a vehicle and two mobile home were washed into the Bonaparte River. He said he believed the occupants were able to escape.

Cache Creek resident Shauna Bolton says she has never seen such an extreme storm hit the community, adding it only lasted about 30 minutes.

She says police have blocked off a number of washed-out roads, noting debris is also preventing some motorists from arriving at their destination

- With files from The Canadian Press


Flash floods have hit Cache Creek this evening, closing the highway and reportedly sweeping away two mobile homes.

Highway 1 is closed in both directions near Cache Creek due to the flooding, according to DriveBC.

There are also reports of two mobile homes being swept into the Bonaparte river, and the fire hall being flooded

There is currently a severe thunderstorm warning for all of the South Thompson, including Cache Creek. Heavy hail and flooding was reported earlier today in Merritt.

DriveBC has no estimated time for reopening the highway, but will update the situation at 7:30 p.m.

Hail beats up Merritt

Many of Merritt's streets are flooded this afternoon after “quarter-sized” hail blocked drains and pounded vehicles.

The hail began just after 4 p.m. and persisted for almost 40 minutes, according to Merritt resident Rick Martindale. Thunder, lightning and heavy rain came at the same time, wreaking havoc.

“There was a crash of lightning and then it just beat the crap out of us,” said Martindale.

The hail reportedly caused some property damage.

“We've got rivers running down the road and I've got a 10 inch deep lake in my backyard,” said Martindale. “There was dings on the roofs of cars and people have some cracked windshields.”

Environment Canada has issued a severe thunderstorm warning for Merritt and Kamloops.

Explosions set house ablaze

Three men were sent to the hospital with life threatening injuries last night after a house in Courtenay, B.C. erupted in flames.

Neighbours in the 2000 block of First Street reported hearing what sounded like an explosion just before 5 p.m. Three men were seen running from the house, and leaving the area in a vehicle. They were later found at St. Joseph's hospital receiving treatment.

“It sounded like someone was getting shot, a bunch of explosions going on and I came outside and all of a sudden that whole building was up in flames, more explosions happening,” a neighbour told CTV Vancouver News. “One of the guys was on fire so bad that his shirt was peeling off of him, so two of them were burnt pretty bad.”

All three men have since been airlifted to the other hospitals to receive specialized treatment, due to the severity of their injuries.

The cause of the fire has yet to be determined.

“A fire that’s this serious and results in injuries is deemed suspicious until proven otherwise, so we’re concerned obviously with the witness accounts of some of the explosions, but sometimes those can be explained by barbeques and those kind of propane tanks,” RCMP Cst. Jason Whittaker told CTV News.

Police are waiting for the fire to be fully extinguished so they can fully search the residence to determine the cause of the blaze.

- With files from CTV Vancouver

Grenade thrown at VPD

A man is in custody after throwing a smoke grenade at Vancouver Police headquarters.

Vancouver police say the 28-year-old man tossed the device into the station's lobby just after 11:30 a.m. Saturday morning.

Police say the man is known to police and was quickly taken into custody as he left the building.

Const. Brian Montague says the smoke grenade caused minor damage but no injuries.

He says the building was evacuated and the area was cleared by a hazardous materials team before it reopened.

Police will recommend charges including mischief, assaulting a police officer and administering a noxious substance.

The Canadian Press

Winning tickets sold in B.C.

While there was no $50-million Lotto Max jackpot for yet another week, some lucky B.C. ticket holders are $1,000,000 and $500,000 richer. 

The BCLC is reporting one person in the Shuswap won one of the 15 MaxMillion tickets, while three lucky individuals in 'Okanagan-Vernon', 'Columbia River-Revelstoke' and Ladysmith took home the Extra prize of $500,000. 

Thirty-three MaxMillions prizes of $1-million each were available in Friday night's draw, and winning tickets were sold for 15 of them.

The jackpot for next Friday's draw will remain at $50-million, but this time there will be an estimated 50 MaxMillions prizes up for grabs.

Lotto Max's big prize was last won on Mar. 20th, when a ticket for the then-$50-million jackpot was sold in Hamilton.

For a full list of results and the winning numbers, click here. 

--With files from The Canadian Press

Biosolids fight hits Victoria

The fight to keep Central Okanagan biosolids out of the Nicola Valley is going to the provincial legislature.

Chiefs from the Nicola Valley are leading a caravan carrying their written Biosolids Moratorium to Victoria to present it to Premier Christy Clark's office on Monday.

The five Chiefs declared a moratorium on the importation of sewage sludge from the Okanagan and Lower Mainland into the Nicola Valley, and mean to show the provincial government that the First Nations and their growing number of supporters will no longer allow the B.C. government to continue its practice of polluting their ancestral lands with big city waste.

For nearly three months Nicola Valley residents have been maintaining a blockade preventing trucks containing "biosolids" from entering the Nicola Valley.

The caravan, which re-affirms their determination to stop this practice, began near Merritt May 19th, with about 70 participants walking and jogging in relays down the Nicola Valley. They will proceed in relays down the Thompson and Fraser Canyons, camping at Boston Bar May 22nd, Chilliwack May 23rd and Vancouver Island May 24th.

A bus will also leave the Lower Nicola Indian Band school Sunday morning to join the caravan.

The First Nations stress that any and all people are invited to join in and/or show their support, as the problem of what to do with urban waste is one that ultimately affects all people.

The caravan will arrive at the steps of the legislature in Victoria on Monday, where the five Nicola Chiefs hope to present their Moratorium to a representative of Premier Christy Clark at a noontime rally.

Chief Aaron Sam says the objective of the caravan is to build awareness and ultimately stop the practice of importing and dumping of big city sewage sludge into rural areas like the Nicola Valley.

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