As of today the long-awaited reunion of many B.C. families with their loved ones in long term care will be underway. After Christmas, the province introduced new measures on high-risk settings as the Omicron variant of COVID-19 was spreading rapidly in the province and hospitalizations spiked. While the rules on nightclubs, hockey games, and more were lifted last month, long term care visits remained limited to only one designated family member. Today is the day those restrictions are being eased. Visitors over 12 will still need to be fully vaccinated, and take a rapid test for COVID-19 before beginning their visit.
Seven more people in B-C have died of COVID-19, raising the death toll to two-thousand 960 since the start of the pandemic. The Health Ministry says 298 people are in hospital, with 49 of them in intensive care. It says 240 COVID new cases have been diagnosed, but those official numbers are unreliable because of the lack of testing capacity and the fact that positive results from rapid antigen tests aren’t always being reported.
The 2022 Cloverdale Country Fair has been cancelled. The Rodeo Association had just received their permit from the City of Surrey on March 7. When the 2022 Rodeo was cancelled, the Rodeo Association cited problems with Stetson Bowl. However, no reasons were given as to why the 2022 Country Fair was cancelled the event will run next year alongside the Cloverdale Rodeo in 2023.
Canada is prepared to welcome millions of Ukrainian refugees, offering them three years of sanctuary while they try to figure out their next steps in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion. Since January, nine-thousand Ukrainians have arrived in Canada after their applications were expedited. So far the temporary program only applies to Ukrainian citizens and their families, but Immigration Minister Sean Fraser says that could change. He says he’s considering options to bring non-Ukrainian citizens who’ve fled the violence to Canada, but didn’t want those considerations to slow down efforts to bring others to safety.
In one year alone, police reported a 37 per cent increase in hate crimes from 2019 to 2020 in Canada. This marks the largest number of police-reported hate crimes since the police started collecting hate crimes data in 2009. In 2020, police-reported hate crimes that were motivated by race or ethnicity almost doubled compared with 2019. In 2019, there were 67 police-reported hate crime incidents against the East or Southeast Asian community, but in 2020 that increased to 269. Ontario and B.C. were the top two provinces with the highest police-reported hate crimes.
Eighty per cent of Canadians surveyed in an online poll say inflation is having a serious affect on their households. The poll finds 80 per cent are trying to save on their grocery bills while 75 per cent plan to cut spending on household items and eat out less. Experts say public health could be affected if shoppers pass on buying higher priced fruits and vegetables and turn to cheaper but less healthy options.
Surrey’s “Return to Recreation” plan includes reopening Newton’s popular wave pool, which has been closed for more than two years, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. At Newton Recreation Centre, the pool will welcome swimmers starting Tuesday, March 29, with limited hours of operation. A reopening date for South Surrey’s indoor pool remains “TBD” (to be determined), as the last of Surrey’s five indoor pools still shut down.
BC Lions Dance Team auditions are set for Sunday in White Rock, as dancers compete for 40 available spots. And for the first time ever, male dancers are being welcomed to audition. “The team will be made up of the highest calibre talent from the audition process – regardless of gender,” said Carolyn Cody, BC Lions director of business operations and marketing. The Lions are not alone by including male dancers.
B-C has launched a new website for its provincial parks that will be home to a new camping reservation system. The environment ministry says people will be able to reserve a campsite up to two months before their arrival at most campgrounds. People can now visit the site to create user accounts and save preferences, but the ministry says it won’t be open for bookings until 7 a-m Monday. It says reservations for group campsites will open next Thursday and reservations for the popular Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit open in early April.
Vancouver police have released video of a suspect who allegedly pushed a stranger down a flight of stairs at a SkyTrain stations in downtown Vancouver. Police hope the video will help them identify the suspect, noting the assault happened at 5:30 p.m. at the height of the afternoon rush hour on March 1st, when many people were in the area. Investigators say a 61-year-old man had a brief exchange with two men (at the Granville Street station) and one of them followed him and appears to have pushed him down a flight of stairs — then allegedly kicked him while he was lying on the ground, before other people intervened. The victim was not seriously hurt and police say the video shows a man in his 40s, with short black hair and a slim build, wearing a black rain jacket with a small white logo on the left chest, and a red, white and blue ball cap.
Almost two days of talks between striking transit workers in the Sea-to-Sky region and their employers have collapsed over the issue of wage parity. Unifor director Gavin McGarrigle says progress was being made but hit a wall when the union said the contract must provide wage parity with Metro Vancouver workers by the end of the deal. Unifor says drivers and mechanics in Whistler, Pemberton and Squamish make an average of three dollars less per hour than their Lower Mainland colleagues and parity is a key part of this round of negotiations. The strike began nearly two months ago and the statement from McGarrigle says no new talks are scheduled.
Surrey RCMP is asking for the public’s help in identifying a robbery suspect. On Feb. 8 at 9:14 a.m., according to a release from Surrey RCMP Const. Gurvinder Ghag, police received a report of a robbery at a Petro Canada gas station in the 14400-block of 104 Avenue. Ghag said the suspect “allegedly flashed what appeared to be a handgun at the cashier and demanded money.” The suspect, Ghag said, fled the scene “with a small amount of cash” before police were notified of the incident. Police said the suspect is described as Caucasian, wearing a white-and-black tie-dyed hoodie with the hood up and a baseball cap underneath. The suspect also had on a grey jacket with “neon green or yellow stripes down the side, jeans or dark pants,” black-and-red gloves and black-and-white shoes. The suspect had their face covered with a red-and-white bandana and was carrying a black backpack. Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact the Surrey RCMP at 604-599-0502, or Crime Stoppers, if they wish to remain anonymous, at 1-800-222-8477 or solvecrime.ca.