The seating arrangements in BC’s legislative assembly look a bit different as politicians head back for the fall session. The Conservative Party of BC now has official party status and a nearly 400-thousand-dollar annual budget after former BC United MLA Bruce Banman crossed the floor last month to join John Rustad. The Office of the Clerk has said it appears to be the first time four parties will have “official status,” although it’s not the only time four parties have been represented. Housing will be a key focus this session, with government house leader and Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon promising new legislation to address permitting and zoning challenges, strengthen enforcement of short-term rentals and deliver more small-scale, multi-unit housing.

The BC Supreme Court has rejected a legal challenge filed by local residents against a deal between the City of Vancouver and the Squamish Nation for services related to a massive housing development in Kitsilano. The Kits Point Residents Association claimed the city’s deal to deliver services such as firefighting and utilities to the Senakw (S’-nawk) development at the south end of the Burrard Bridge was unlawfully adopted and cloaked in secrecy. It’s expected to include six-thousand homes in 11 towers built on lands that once housed an ancestral Squamish village before its residents were forced out and their homes were burned as the Canadian Pacific Railway expropriated the lands. Eve Munro with the residents association said they never thought they could stop the development that’s already underway, but some residents object to its density and worry about strains on local services.

The Squamish Nation has made an official request to change the name of Mount Garibaldi in honour of its Indigenous history. Oral history tells of the mountain’s central role in the survival of the Squamish people during a great flood, and the nation is asking the name be changed to Nch-kay (inch-kay), which means “dirty place” or “grimy one” in the Squamish language. The name comes from the nearby Cheekye River, which can appear muddy as a result of volcanic debris that changes the colour of its waters. The BC Geographical Names Office says it’s unlikely that Italian general Giuseppe Garibaldi ever visited BC himself, but the mountain that Squamish people consider sacred has borne his name since the late 1800s.

A group of residents on the east side of Surrey headed out into the rain yesterday to spread the message that hate is not welcome in their community. The neighbours are calling for unity in response to vandalism at Fleetwood Park, where a picnic table was marked with racist graffiti. Braden Remillard lives in the area and says he cleaned the table when he heard about the graffiti on Saturday, but two days later, it was back. The residents cleaned it up again and put up signs saying “Hate has no place here,” while a statement from Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke says she’s disgusted by the graffiti and she will talk with police to see if they can find the perpetrator.

A raptor rescue operation in the Lower Mainland is busy preparing for the arrival of eagles that stop to scavenge at the Metro Vancouver landfill. Martina Versteeg (VEER’-steeg), the raptor care supervisor with the Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society in Delta, says it’s a great spot for bird watching as hundreds of eagles stop at the dump during their annual migration south. But it’s also dangerous for the birds, as Versteeg says about 200 eagles are brought into their rescue each year with injuries and conditions ranging from broken wings to infections, lead poisoning and electrocutions from nearby power lines. She adds that many of the birds do recover.

Training camp for the Toronto Raptors returns to BC today. The club says it runs until Saturday and includes an open practice on the 6th at Simon Fraser University’s Burnaby campus. Their first pre-season game is scheduled this Sunday against the Sacramento Kings at Vancouver’s Rogers Arena. The camp marks a new beginning for the Raptors after president Masai Ujiri called for sweeping changes to the team’s culture.