No one was hurt in a large fire at a blueberry farm in Surrey today, but four buildings are “total losses.” Assistant Fire Chief Ben Dirksen says crews were called to the farm just off Colebrook Road, east of 152nd Street, around 2 a.m. “When our first arriving crews arrived on scene they were met with heavy fire from a large barn on the property,” “The fire quickly spread to three other outbuildings.” He says crews focused on protecting a house on the property from surrounding flames. All told, Dirksen says the home was protected, but a barn and three outbuildings were destroyed. “In the end we had 30 firefighters on scene,” he added. The fire sent thick smoke throughout the surrounding area. It’s still unclear what caused the fire. Dirksen says the fire was burning in a “no-water area,” meaning there were no fire hydrants nearby. More information to be released soon
Premier John Horgan is expected to join health officials today as they announce plans for vaccinating youth aged 12 to 17 against COVID-19. A joint statement says young people can register to receive their vaccine online and details on how they will be vaccinated will come today. The statement also says anyone who was vaccinated before April 15th, before the online booking system launched, will need to register again. B-C has recorded 521 new cases of COVID-19 and eight more deaths, pushing the death toll to one-thousand-658
R-C-M-P have issued a reminder that non-essential travel remains restricted, between three regional zones established by the province. They say road checks will ramp up over this coming long weekend. The Mounties’ highway patrol unit has established checkpoints on Highway 1 in the Boston Bar area, Highway 3 in the Manning Park area, Highway 5 in the old toll booth area and Highway 99 in the Lillooet area. The unit says close to 21-hundred vehicles were checked last weekend, with 30 turning around voluntarily.
University of British Columbia researchers are launching a national COVID-19 vaccine registry and survey of pregnant and breastfeeding people. Those who are pregnant or breastfeeding will be able to register for the study online and do not need to be vaccinated yet or plan to get the shot. U-B-C obstetrics and genecology professor Dr. Deborah Money says there’s an urgent need to monitor outcomes related to COVID-19 vaccines, since initial clinical trials excluded pregnant and breastfeeding people. She says there’s reassuring data coming from the vaccine rollout in the U-S, while the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada and the National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommend vaccination for those who are pregnant and breastfeeding
Dozens of people living in R-Vs and vans parked along a Vancouver street are facing eviction as the city cracks down on the illegally parked vehicles. Many who live there say the vehicles, some of which are not running or insured, are the last option they have before sleeping on the street. Taryn Scollard, the city’s deputy general manager of engineering, says overnight parking for large vehicles is not allowed on any city street, but unlike other parking violations, enforcement starts with warning notices. The city says outreach workers are trying to connect people to housing and income supports, and it’s offering free towing for those who can find a legal place to park or else storage at a city impound yard for a month.
Metro Vancouver Transit Police say a suspected gang member carrying a loaded gun has been arrested at B-C’s largest shopping mall. Police say officers stopped a man in the parking lot of the
Metropolis at Metrotown in Burnaby yesterday for openly smoking marijuana in a location contrary to the Cannabis Control and Licensing Act. They say the man fled to a nearby parked car and in a struggle with officers, he was spotted tossing a loaded semi-automatic handgun under a vehicle. They say 23-year-old Luis Manuel Baez of Surrey has been charged with one count of obstruction and multiple firearms offences.
Vancouver is teaming up with the provincial government to create an urban parcel delivery system using electric bicycles. The province is pumping 200-thousand dollars into the project to create a cargo e-bike micro hub. Trucks will deliver packages to the e-hub and electric bikes will carry the goods to their final destination in the downtown core — cutting greenhouse gases and easing traffic congestion at the same time. The project begins next month and will continue until August of next year — with an assessment of its affect on pollution reduction slated for next spring.
Winter just won’t quit in parts of B-C and drivers planning to use Highway 3 between the Paulson and Kootenay passes are learning that the hard way today. Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement for the southeastern section of Highway 3 as up to 10 centimetres of snow is forecast at higher elevations. Conditions are expected to ease by later today.
The British Columbia government is expected to introduce an economic restart plan next week. Jobs and Economic Recovery Minister Ravi Kahlon made the announcement today in the legislature. Kahlon offered the update while answering questions from the Opposition about businesses struggling under pandemic-related restrictions. Orders imposed last month prevent B-C residents from travelling outside their region, eating indoors at restaurants or taking part in indoor fitness activities.
BC is reporting 357 new cases of COVID-19 — the lowest number since mid-February. Provincial health officer says Dr. Bonnie Henry also announced three additional deaths, bringing the total to one-thousand-661. The number of active cases has fallen to four-thousand-636, which is the lowest since the beginning of March. Health Minister Adrian Dix says the number of people in hospital is 331 — down from a high of 555 — but surge beds are still being used in some locations.
The Bank of Canada says its concerns are mounting that households are piling on too much debt, especially through mortgages. Bank governor Tiff Macklem says Canadians need to be very cautious about buying homes they cannot afford in a time of crisis. The Bank of Canada’s report says the housing boom may help the economy rebound in the short-term. But it could lead to a future bust if households have to cut spending because of another downturn in the economy.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says the province has taken steps to allow children aged 12 and up to get COVID-19 vaccinations with their families. Henry says they will get their vaccinations in clinics instead of schools and hours at the clinics could also be extended. Multiple young people in a household will also be allowed to attend one booked appointment together. Henry says an estimated 310-thousand children aged 12 to 17 are now eligible to be vaccinated.