My Powell River Now Wed, 22 May 2024 17:49:48 +0000 en-CA hourly 1 Orca calf’s family pod spotted off the coast of Vancouver Island Tue, 21 May 2024 20:32:13 +0000

The extended family of the orca calf stuck in a lagoon earlier this year have been spotted off the coast of Vancouver Island.

In a social media post, Executive Director/CEO of Bay Cetology Jared Towers says he spotted the pod swimming out of Pearse Pass and 100 metres past his doorstep on Alert Bay.

Towers says they are the calf’s great grandmother's pod.

“Although she wasn’t with them, the good news is she hasn’t been seen since May 10th (as far as I’m aware) which means she is probably on the move,” said Towers.

“It is known from previous cases that lost or orphaned killer whale calves can re-integrate into the population and go on to live healthy normal lives, but finding a group willing and able to make an adoption can take time and is not guaranteed.

This sighting comes after the calf, known as Brave Little Hunter, was trapped in a lagoon near Zeballos from March to April after its mom died.

The calf swam free in late-April.

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Vancouver Islander joins 2024 Canadian Paralympic team Mon, 20 May 2024 18:04:57 +0000

A Vancouver Islander will represent Canada for this year’s Paralympic Games. 

The Canadian Paralympic Committee says 20 Para swimmers have been selected for the Canadian Paralympic Team, with six of the members being medalists. 

They include Aurélie Rivard, winner of two gold medals in the 2020 Paralympics, Rio 2016 gold medalist Katarina Roxon, and 2020 gold and silver medalist Danielle Dorris. 

Island resident Nicholas Bennett was selected after setting a world record in the men’s 400 metre-medley on Friday’s Paralympic Trials, making him one of only three BCers on the team. 

The committee adds that not only was Bennett part of the swimming team for the 2020 Paralympics, he also brought home two gold medals during the World Para Swimming Championships last year. 

With a mix of new and experienced swimmers part of the team, Co-chef de mission Josh Vander Vies says it is an exciting moment. 

Para swimming is always such a premier sport at the Games, and I am certain there will be so many moments to celebrate for Canada’s Para swimmers in Paris, from podiums to thrilling finishes to personal bests,” said Vander Vies. 

“We wish each of them the best of luck with their final preparations for the Games, and we will be there to support them all the way to Paris.” 

The games are set in Paris, running from August 28 to September 8. The swimming will run from August 29 to September 7. 

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Island communities lost out on $1 billion thanks to new forestry policies: TLA boss Sun, 19 May 2024 23:31:06 +0000

Communities north of Nanaimo lost out on roughly one billion dollars last year because of reduced logging activity.

Bob Brash with the Truck Loggers Association spoke to the Strathcona Regional District last week, updating the new Natural Resources Committee on the current state of BC forestry.

And it’s not good, he says.

The industry harvested 20 million fewer cubic metres of wood last year, worth about 7 billion dollars to the BC economy.

"It's estimated that there's a value of $350 per cubic metre that comes to the province at the end of the day from each cubic metre harvested," he said. For loggers, a lot of them, because there's not a lot of manufacturing facilities on the North Island, for instance, that's a billion dollars of lost work from contractors to the communities that they live in. So it's significant.

Brash says recent government policy changes have made it more expensive and difficult to access timber near protected old-growth stands. He says the well-funded environmental lobby has also contributed to the decline.

To see his whole presentation, you can watch it below, it begins at around the 9 minute mark.

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Vancouver Island documentary nominated for Best Documentary Sun, 19 May 2024 17:57:01 +0000

A documentary film showcasing the world-renowned Cowichan sweater has been nominated for a screen award. 

The Cowichan Sweater aired in October on CBC. Now it has been nominated to receive the award for Best Documentary Program during the Canadian Screen Awards set to air May 31. 

Mary Galloway, who grew up in Qualicum Beach, was approached by the Victoria Native Friendship Centre to direct the documentary which would tell the story of her quest to knit a sweater in the same design as her grandfather’s.  

Galloway says in the film’s trailer that while she never knew her grandfather, she hopes to connect with her past by honouring him with a knitted sweater. 

“I never really got the chance to know him,” she says. “Hopefully while I go on this journey to get a sweater recreated in his honour for me, it will bring me closer to him.” 

According to Galloway, the film is scripted to feature the sweater in the 44-minute documentary which has been considered a national symbol since 2011.  

Cowichan sweaters have been gifted to several world leaders, including Queen Elizabeth II and worn by prime ministers from Diefenbaker to Trudeau. 

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UPDATE: Island swimmer now part of Canada Paralympic Team Sun, 19 May 2024 17:10:38 +0000

UPDATE: As of Monday morning, Nicholas Bennett has been selected for Canada's Paralympic Team.


A young swimmer from Vancouver Island set a new world record at the Paralympic trials in Toronto Friday.

Nicholas Bennett from Parksville set the record in the men’s 400-metre individual medley in the S14 class. He’s the reigning world champ in the event and smashed the previous world record by more than one-and-a-half seconds.

The S14 class is for athletes with intellectual disabilities. Bennett, now 20, was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder when he was three.

Bennett says his accomplishment makes him feel overwhelmingly positive and thanks his sister, who also serves as his coach, for helping him succeed.

Bennett has now met the standard to qualify for the 2024 Canadian Paralympic Games team, which will be officially announced this evening.

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“We are heading into a challenging year,” BC Agriculture council director says Sun, 19 May 2024 16:00:11 +0000

With summer a month away, a member of the BC Agriculture Council says producers are heading into a very challenging year.

The BC Agriculture Council is made up of 30 commodity groups, ranging from apple farms to turkey, focusing on growing a strong and sustainable agriculture sector in BC through industry consensus and public policies.

With the River Forecast Centre’s snowpack bulletin showing the overall snowpack level to be 63 percent of normal, drought conditions are expected to pop up again this year.

Director of policy for the council Paul Price says producers are bracing themselves for the worst.

“We’ve had successive years of drought now since 2021,” said Price. “One very dry year is something you can take with stride but two, three, four successive years of really bad drought has a compounding impact.”

Price says some producers have used different ways to cope with the situation, with cattle ranchers cutting herd sizes by selling off the animals, while others are investing in optimizing their irrigation systems.

Last year the province invested $20 million in the Agriculture Water Infrastructure program, a program that would give producers, conservation groups, and indigenous communities access to invest in water infrastructure.

Despite another $83 million invested this year, he says they won’t see benefits right away.

“This program does allow us to make water storage but we still need precipitation to fill that storage. You can dig a pit, but you need it to rain to fill that pit,” said Price. “It’s a serious concern as the impacts of climate change, and extreme weather events appear in a greater frequency.”

Price adds some possible solutions for producers include implementing an agricultural water reserve, compensating producers in the event of an extreme heat incident, and getting an exemption on the insurance premium tax.

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Haida Nation’s title recognized in historic, national first Sat, 18 May 2024 21:19:12 +0000

It’s the first time in Canadian history aboriginal title has been formally recognized.

This week BC passed legislation acknowledging the title of the Haida Nation to their traditional lands.

In a statement, the province says recognizing Aboriginal title will not impact anyone's private property, local government jurisdiction, bylaws or government lands in Haida Gwaii. Provincial laws will continue to apply.

Leases, permits and approvals to use Crown land will remain in effect, and private property owners will see no change.

Over the next several years, the Council of the Haida Nation and the Province will work together to negotiate how provincial and Haida Nation laws can work together. Local governments, residents and others will have opportunities to have input in the discussions.

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Rural Island doctor’s fight for his patients featured in new documentary Sat, 18 May 2024 20:55:47 +0000

Doctor Prean Armogam in Port McNeill is no stranger to fighting for what’s right.

He grew up in apartheid-era South Africa, enduring brutality and violence, even watching his friends murdered before his eyes.

He came to Canada after earning his medical degree. He’s been in Port McNeill for the last 20 years, fighting to make sure the small community has top-quality health care.

He calls the community his 'tribe' now and is grateful for how he was quickly accepted. He loves Port McNeill, which he says is more than 10 times bigger than the small village where he grew up.

While fighting for more doctors and health care workers, he's often butted heads with the health authority, as he explains in a short film about his life recently published on YouTube.

Thanks to his efforts, there are more local doctors and staff, but he says people still need to speak up for their rights, and push the health authority to make good on its promises to improve the system.

Armogam was recently nominated for a national award for rural service, he continues to advocate for patients and his fellow doctors in rural communities.

The entire film can be viewed below.


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Supporting small business is critical, BC premier Sat, 18 May 2024 18:38:45 +0000

The province says they’ll be helping businesses who have suffered from vandalism and increased crime, but it will take time to implement. 

Several small businesses across the province say they’ve fallen victim to shoplifting, damage, and loss of staff since crime skyrocketed after a public health emergency was declared.  

Premier David Eby says he acknowledges the struggles business owners are having, which is why the province has implemented several venues to help businesses repair some of the damage done. 

“We’ve also provided direct support through Chambers of Commerce for issues around vandalism, broken glass and that kind of thing.” 

According to the BC Chamber of Commerce, they’ve also stepped up to help provide funding for facilities who have fell victim to vandalism with the distribution of $10.5 million which businesses can apply for until 2025.  

However, some businesses say they’ve not only had deal with vandalism, but also with pinching pennies when it comes to expenses because of the lack of consumer spending.  

Eby says he understands times are still tough, but the government has already put programs in place to help, all they [businesses] have to do is apply. 

“There’s lots of challenges for business right now without question,” he says. “This is why we’ve supported them in the budget by helping to remove the employer health tax, which is a tax cut for businesses with a payroll of less than $1 million. 

According to the province, BC is expected to see slower economic growth through 2024 because of higher interest rates. 

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BC Transit announce service changes for Victoria Day Sat, 18 May 2024 16:00:36 +0000

As Victoria Day approaches, BC Transit has announced changes to your bus schedule.

According to both transit and the City of Powell River, Routes 1, 2, and 3 will run under the Sunday/Holiday schedule on Monday.

Those will be the only routes with service however, as Routes 12, 14, and the HandyDART will not run on that day.

Service on all routes returns on Tuesday.

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Nanoose Bay resident fulfills dreams with lottery win Sat, 18 May 2024 16:00:17 +0000

A Nanoose Bay resident says she will be able to fulfill some of her dreams after winning half a million dollars in a Lotto 6/49 draw. 

Marie Hobenshield says she was completely taken by surprise after she went into Casino Nanaimo to claim her ticket, but when people started gathering around her, she knew something big had happened. 

“I thought it was just a five-dollar ticket,” she says. “The attendant told me to look again, then people were hugging me and congratulating me.” 

She says the winnings will go to help her grandchildren with university fees and to take her family to Germany, the birthplace of her late husband.  

“It was his dream to have the entire family visit there, so I am excited to honour that,” she says.  

According to BC Lotto, so far this year players have redeemed more than $17 million in winnings from the Extra and more than $46 million in Lotto 6/49. 

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Nanaimo Airport offers tips for holiday travel Fri, 17 May 2024 19:58:26 +0000

Travel season is starting, and Nanaimo Airport says preparing before you hit the airport will make your travel a lot safer and smoother. 

According to a report, approximately 375,000 people passed through the airport last year which they say was the highest since 2019. 

Chief Financial Officer Keith Granbois says even though they’re expecting increased passengers for the long weekend, passengers should still make sure they plan to avoid unnecessary delays.  

“Ensure you have all your ID and travel documents organized,” he says. “Leave early and allow two hours prior to your flight time.”  

He adds making sure people follow Transport Canada’s guidelines on what to pack, and how to pack bags, will make sure passengers' breeze through security checkpoints and reduce delays for everyone on the flight. 

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Drain your boat before transport — it’s now the law in BC Fri, 17 May 2024 19:00:22 +0000

Effective immediately, boaters are now required to drain watercraft before transport.

BC’s chief veterinarian issued the order this week to prevent the spread of invasive species including zebra mussels. The top vet also hopes it will help prevent whirling disease from spreading any further.

The disease can be fatal to salmon and trout populations. It was first detected in BC in December, in Yoho National Park, and has no treatment.

Invasive mussels can displace native species and are persistent, one litre of water can carry 9,000 larvae.

All boaters are now required to remove drain plugs and drain all water on dry land, including internal compartments such as ballasts and bilges, before visiting another body of water.

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Summer fire restriction put in place for long weekend Fri, 17 May 2024 16:58:04 +0000

Fire restrictions on open burning activities begin today on Savary Island and the fire chief says it will last until weather conditions persist.  

The restriction is part of an island-wide action by the qathet Regional District after continued warm and dry weather this spring.  

Savary Island volunteer Fire Chief Chris Philpott says a flare-up now could put drastic strains on the department and the community. 

“Savary Island resources are limited and getting assistance from provincial wildfire crews could be limited due to the fact they’re already fighting fires,” Philpott says. 

The district say restrictions will stay in place, but campfires will be permitted as long as they’re no larger than 0.5 metres in height and diameter and must be three metres from any combustible material. 

If anyone is caught not following the restrictions and bylaw, the qRD says violators could face a fine up to $2,000. 

For more information on the bans visit the district’s website. 

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Travel tips to enjoy weekend Comox Air Show, RCAF Centennial Thu, 16 May 2024 21:58:56 +0000

If you’re planning on visiting Comox for the air show and Armed Forces Day celebration on Saturday, the Department of Defence has some travel tips.

You can avoid getting stuck in traffic by taking the free shuttle bus service, provided by BC Transit from 8:30 am to 6 pm.

Buses will leave every 15 minutes from the Comox Mall and North Island College and will take passengers right to the air show’s pedestrian entrance gate.

If you’re driving to the show, all traffic will be directed through Point Holmes. Parking will be off the access road to Glacier Greens Golf Course. Parking attendants will be there to help direct traffic. There will be no roadside parking near the airfield.

Upon arrival at the gates, all guests will clear the security screening check point and proceed to the static displays, viewing areas, and information booth. Remember, an airfield is a big place, so wear comfortable shoes, and don’t forget sunscreen and a hat.

Visit the official airshow website for more details.

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Effects of solar storm detected underwater off Island’s west coast Thu, 16 May 2024 19:54:49 +0000

Last weekend’s solar storm painted the night skies with colourful Northern Lights, but also had effects detected deep underwater.

Ocean Networks Canada has a network of underwater observatories off the west coast of Vancouver Island. During the storm they detected distortions almost three kilometres deep, possibly some of the most remote recordings ever captured.

The most significant was a compass which shifted by as much as 60 degrees because of magnetic field distortion. The compasses are used to help measure ocean currents, and the change was discovered during data quality control checks.

Ocean Networks Canada says the discovery will help better understand the range and intensity of solar storms in the future.

“The reach of these data recordings kilometres under the ocean surface highlight the magnitude of the solar flare over the past weekend and suggest that the data may be useful for better understanding the geographic extent and intensity of these storms,” said Kate Moran, ONC president and chief executive officer, in a press release.

For more information, including a look at the data recorded, visit Ocean Networks Canada's website.

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Travellers will save this summer, BC Ferries Thu, 16 May 2024 19:30:45 +0000

BC Ferries is gearing up for the summer and say they’re helping passengers enjoy the season with a slash to their fuel surcharge for travellers.  

The busiest time of year for BC Ferries is between June 1 and Sept. 5 where they’re anticipating around eight million passengers will pass through their ports to board more than 56,000 sailings.  

They say passengers who book starting June 1 will see a reduction of four per cent. President and CEO Nicholas Jimenez adds this is to make sure BC Ferries makes everyone’s summer holiday affordable and stress-free. 

“Whether we’re part of a customer’s daily commute, day-to-day travel needs or vacation plans, summer is the most popular time of year to travel,” he says. “With all hands-on deck, we’re readying our vessels and crew to help make this a smooth, safe and fun travel season.” 

They add to increase service they’re adding a third sailing between Tsawwassen and Duke Point, an additional early morning sailing between Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen, and more sailings from Horseshoe Bay to the Sunshine Coast. 

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Mayor calls for a ‘time out’ after residents push for vote on city name change Thu, 16 May 2024 00:19:09 +0000

Powell River council heard loud and clear Wednesday from citizens upset about the ongoing debate over changing the town’s name.

Two speakers whose families have lived in the area for generations said at the Committee of the Whole meeting they want to see the question put to a popular vote. Diane Sparks said most of council are recent arrivals to the community and don’t appreciate the full history.

"Changing the name of Powell River will not achieve reconciliation,” she said. “It will bring more resentment, divisiveness and conflict between the two communities, but most of all, you don’t care, it’s not your hometown.”

Ted Vizzutti says there’s a political battle going on behind the scenes, and that the history of the town’s namesake Israel Powell is being rewritten through misrepresentation.

"They manipulate the narrative of Powell River, its history, and then they start trying to control in ways by involving kids,” he said. “The school system tells them that Powell was a bad person, that the real name of Powell River is something else. They actually start to brainwash the next generation.”

Vizzutti and Sparks both asked for a clear public vote on the issue, with no misleading questions or additional options, just asking residents if they want to change the name, or not.

After Vizzutti spoke Mayor Ron Woznow said the town could benefit from a “time out” on the topic.

“In listening to your presentation, it just reaffirmed for me that, two things: one is, it’s important to have a time out, and secondly, that there’s probably no real truth,” he said.

Woznow told a story about meeting the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, and Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Abadi more than 20 years ago.

“They were talking about opinions versus truth, and the consensus was, when somebody says they have the truth, it usually is the start of divisiveness,” he said.

Woznow said a “time out” would be a good idea, and people can come back later to discuss what he called a “difference of opinions.”

At the Wednesday meeting council also received a dozen recent letters against the name change, and also asking for a public vote.

Letter-writers referenced a community survey which found 93% of more than 2,000 respondents do not support it.

The whole meeting can be viewed online.

Letters submitted by the public can be seen here. 

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BC Highway Patrol members to increase enforcement this long weekend Wed, 15 May 2024 20:54:09 +0000

Expect to see more highway patrol members this long weekend.

The Drive to Arrive enforcement blitz aims to lower the number of people hurt or killed by highway collisions by educating the public and increasing enforcement efforts of the BC Highway Patrol.

According to ICBC, an average of 1,800 collisions took place during Victoria Day Long Weekend from 2018 to 2022, with a yearly average of 264 fatal crashes on BC Highways.

BC RCMP says because of warmer weather, more motorcycles pop up on the roadways, and are involved in an average of 2,400 collisions. Most of the crashes are between June and August.

As part of the project, the police say you can expect more highway patrol members looking for high-risk behaviors such as Excessive Speeding, Aggressive/Dangerous Driving, Impaired Driving, and Distracted Driving.

For this long weekend, they encourage you to drive responsibly, make good decisions, treat others on the road with safety in mind, and be aware of other motorists.

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New arts hub to be built in Townsite market building Tue, 14 May 2024 20:02:14 +0000

An arts hub is coming to Powell River’s Townsite market building.

That comes from Island Coastal Economic Trust, saying that the pacific regional international summer music association (PRISMA) will turn a 5,000 square-foot space into a hub with performance, rehearsal, storage, and office facilities.

Along with these facilities, the hub would also include an industrial kitchen, soundproofing, and technology upgrades, all as part of a $200,000 investment from the trust.

Co-founder of the PRISMA festival Arthur Arnold says he’s grateful for the support of this project.

“Over a decade ago, PRISMA started in a basement, and now we are ready to help others the way we were helped,” said Arnold.

“I look forward to the journey ahead, knowing that the entire community will benefit, including the Tla’amin Nation.”

While PRISMA will use the hub as its new home of operations, eight other groups will use the hub including the Tla’amin Nation, qathet concert band, and qathet symphony orchestra.

The trust adds the festival signed a 10-year lease for the space, with construction set to start in July.

They aim to have the hub ready by December 2025.

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