Environment Canada says rain storms of increasing intensity are expected to sweep through British Columbia over the coming days.  Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says the biggest rain storm is expected to arrive on Tuesday and people living in areas prone to flooding should be prepared to evacuate if necessary.  He urges people to have food, water, blankets and flashlights ready in case of rising waters in their communities.  Farnworth says officials will be closely watching the coming storms for increasing flood and slide threats.

 

A stretch of Highway 1 between Abbotsford and Chilliwack that gad been shut down for more than a week because of floods reopened yesterday afternoon.  The route reopened at 2 p.m.  Speeds are reduced on stretch of highway and the Province is asking people to consider whether they absolutely need to be on the roads.

 

Justin Trudeau is traveling to British Columbia today to visit areas affected by the flooding and meet with provincial, civic, and First Nation leaders.  According to the prime minister’s schedule Trudeau will be in the Abbotsford area and will also meet with members of the military, first responders and volunteers.  He’s to head to Victoria later in the day to meet with Premier John Horgan.

 

More Merritt residents will be allowed to return home this Saturday when Phase 2 of the city’s return home plan begins.  City staff say that’s dependent on the final water testing
results, which are due later today.  Mayor Linda Brown calls it another major milestone for Merritt as it recovers from major flooding that forced the entire city to evacuate on November 15th.  A boil water advisory remains in effect and people who return are being told to use as little water as possible so there’s enough left for fire protection.

 

Three more people have died of COVID-19 in B-C, bringing the overall death toll to two-thousand-316.  The province reported 424 new COVID-19 cases yesterday and says 295 people are in hospital, with 112 in the I-C-U.  It says 91 per cent of eligible British Columbians over age 12 have had their first vaccine and 87.5 per cent have had their second dose.  British Columbia’s COVID-19 immunization program for children between the ages of five and 11 begins next week.

 

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and Ontario Premier Doug Ford are urging the federal government to take action to ban non-essential travel from countries in southern Africa where a new
variant of COVID-19 has surfaced.  Several nations have already done so — with cases also being reported in Israel and Belgium.  The World Health Organization is meeting to assess the potential
threat of the new variant, which may be more contagious than others.  Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos is expected to hold a news conference with chief public health officer Doctor Theresa Tam later today.

 

Delta is finally getting its first dispensary, three years after cannabis became legal in Canada.  On Monday council gave final reading to a proposed cannabis dispensary at 616 Chester Road on Annacis Island.  The dispensary will be operated by Seed & Stone, a non-medical cannabis retail brand which currently operates one store in Chilliwack, two in Victoria and another yet-to-open location in White Rock.

 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has approved a request for the military to help rain-drenched southwestern Newfoundland. There are road washouts from a punishing storm that have cut the region off from the rest of the province. Trudeau says members of the Canadian Armed Forces will be deployed to the area to provide logistical and transportation support. Meanwhile, construction crews have begun repairing the Trans-Canada Highway. 

 

British Columbia’s top doctor says there’s no evidence so far that indicates the Omicron COVID-19 variant has spread within the province. That was the message from Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix, who issued a statement on Friday afternoon. Omicron, also known as the B.1.1.529 variant, was found in South Africa on Wednesday and declared a variant of concern (VOC) on Friday. The World Health Organization (WHO) says that primary evidence suggests a higher risk of infection compared to other VOCs. Shortly after WHO declared Omicron as a new VOC, the federal government introduced new measures at the border to prevent the spread of the variant within Canada. The federal government is banning travellers from seven southern African countries. Travellers who are flying indirectly will need to get a negative COVID-19 test from a third country before flying to Canada. Foreign nationals who have travelled to any of the countries in the last 14 days will be barred from entering Canada. The seven countries under the travel ban are South Africa, Mozambique, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini, and Namibia. Henry and Dix say that they support the measures taken by the federal government, adding that “immediate precautionary action is prudent.” “At this time, there is no evidence that this variant has been introduced into British Columbia,” the two health officials said in a joint statement. “The BC Centre for Disease Control’s public health lab has sequenced over 90,000 virus isolates in BC and will continue to use whole-genome sequencing to monitor for all variants circulating in BC, including this new VOC Omicron.” Henry added that at this point in time, all Health Canada-approved COVID-19 vaccines are “highly effective and provide strong protection against all variants.” British Columbians are advised to follow all provincial and public health orders in place, stay home when feeling unwell, wash hands frequently, and get fully vaccinated if they haven’t done so already.

 

Surrey R-C-M-P say they have identified two separate sets of human remains, found within weeks of each other in separate areas of the city this fall. They say the two discoveries are not connected and criminality is not suspected. They say partial human remains found in a wooded area of Surrey on September 20th have been identified as those of a man reported missing in February 2020. Skeletal remains discovered in the Newton neighbourhood on October 12th have been confirmed to belong to a 32-year-old man who was reported missing in January — and the families of both men have been informed. 

 

Vancouver-born Deadpool actor Ryan Reynolds is taking a stand for his flood-beleaguered province. A social media post from Reynolds says he and actor-director wife Blake Lively have donated to the Red Cross fund set up to help those affected by flooding. He calls the floods “brutal” and his message includes a link to the fundraiser. The Canadian Red Cross tweeted its thanks in reply.