Four people are confirmed to have died in Monday’s crane collapse in downtown Kelowna, say police, and a fifth is believed to be buried in rubble in an adjacent building. Kelowna RCMP announced the news on Tuesday during a press conference at 11 a.m. Just hours after Monday morning’s deadly crane collapse along the 1400 block of St. Paul Street, police said there were multiple fatalities, though they did not release how many had died. On Tuesday, four bouquets of flowers could be seen at the site of the crane collapse. RCMP Insp. Adam MacIntosh said the four individuals who died were all men who were found at the scene of the collapse. One of the four was transported to hospital, but later died. Police said all four were associated with the worksite, that being the 25-storey tower under construction. The fifth person, also a man, was in a building that houses a consulting business of some sort, police said. A sixth person was taken to hospital, with what police called non-life-threatening injuries, but has since been released. As to why the crane collapsed, MacIntosh said it was his understanding that workers had been getting ready to dismantle the crane. A state of emergency was declared on Monday afternoon by Central Okanagan Emergency Operations, and it remains in effect. A large portion of the downtown core is cordoned off by police tape, and the families of the victims have been notified. Mission Group said it will continue to work with all investigators and authorities.
Surrey council approved a variance permit to Kwantlen Polytechnic University on Monday related to what will be Surrey’s second hospital. This was to vary the Surrey Subdivision and Development Bylaw by “deferring works and services” for a proposed two-lot subdivision “in order to facilitate a future hospital and cancer centre” in the Cloverdale Town Centre area on one of the lots. According to the City of Surrey, “no concerns had been expressed” by owners of property abutting the site prior to Monday night’s council agenda being printed. Construction of the hospital, to be built next to KPU at 5500 180th St., is expected to begin in 2023 with the hospital opening in 2027. The new 168-bed hospital is expected to cost $1.66 billion.
A two-year-old girl was bitten by a coyote in Stanley Park while walking with her family Monday night, according to the BC Conservation Officer Service. Around 9:30 p.m. a group of adults and kids were near the aquarium when “a coyote suddenly jumped on the child,” according to a Facebook post from the service. “Her father intervened and the coyote left the area. The child suffered injuries and was treated in hospital.” Officers learned of the attack on Tuesday morning, and will be patrolling the park for at least the next few days as they try to locate the coyote. Conservation officers are warning anyone venturing into Stanley Park to “use abundant caution” due to a “high risk of encountering an aggressive coyote. Tips on how to handle a coyote encounter include shouting, waving one’s arms, and throwing things at the animal. Running, or turning one’s back on a coyote is never a good idea
A human rights complaint has been filed against the Cloverdale Rodeo & Exhibition Association (CREA) for allegedly failing to address physical abuse allegations, as well as racist and sexist remarks made by the former general manager. On Monday, an anonymous complainant on behalf of workers and volunteers lodged a complaint claiming they “experienced discrimination contrary to section 13 of the Human Rights Code” over a period of seven years. The ten-page document filed by lawyer Rachel Roy claims the CREA “has no harassment policy or training for staff or volunteers, and the Association has no mechanism for volunteers and staff to raise complaints or concerns. The Association delegates significant authority to its General Manager without oversight.” The workers say the association continued to employ general manager Michael “Mike” MacSorely from 2014 to 2021 despite his “blatantly racist view of South Asian people, and ongoing egregious conduct towards female staff and volunteers.” During that time, senior executives are accused of dismissing and failing to address concerns. He plans to represent himself during the Tribunal’s hearing process and says the last six months have been difficult because he lost both his parents, and his main reason for quitting as CREA general manager in March was to spend more time with his ailing mother.
B.C. continues to report a low number of COVID-19 cases in the province as it passes the 80 per cent mark for adults with their first dose of a vaccine. On Tuesday, B.C. reported just 33 people have been infected with COVID-19. A majority of the cases continue to be reported in the Interior Health region. A total of 148,187 cases have been recorded since the start of the pandemic and with no new deaths to report — the overall total remains at 1,760. Additionally, 145,775 people who tested positive have recovered. Out of 639 active cases — 66 people are in hospital and 14 of those are in intensive care. The province saw three outbreaks at acute care centres: Laurel Place at Surrey Memorial Hospital, Eagle Ridge Hospital, and Royal Inland Hospital. Since December 2020, the province has administered 5,805,541 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines. In B.C., 79.1 per cent of people 12 and up have one shot and 46 per cent are now fully vaccinated.
Now that prep work for Surrey’s SkyTrain line extension has been given the green light, attention has turned to the road through Green Timbers Urban Forest where tracks will be built. The city plans to four-lane Fraser Highway to “optimize” the rapid-transit project, in one of the city’s most congested road corridors. Drawings of an elevated SkyTrain line are shown in a September 2020 report to city council. “Staff have worked with TransLink to optimize the project design,” concluded Scott Neuman, Surrey’s general manager of engineering, “including the ability to complete SkyTrain plus four-lane widening using an approximate (27.5-metre) optimized cross-section through GTUF (Green Timbers Urban Forest) entirely within the road allowance, with no impact to GTUF and only an incremental increase in tree loss compared to TransLink’s original two-lane design.” Don Schuetze, president of Green Timbers Heritage Society, says there’s been talk of widening that stretch of Fraser Highway since the 1990s. “I’ve got a folder just filled with discussion about it – lots of ink spilled on it, and blood and sweat and tears,” Schuetze told the Now-Leader. “My understanding is they’re going for a more minimal concept now, and that’s important,” he added. “A few years ago they were talking about 45 metres across, for LRT. They’ve obviously done some thinking about how they did it with 100th Avenue, which they widened a couple years ago – and I think they did a good job. It was, ‘How narrow can we make this so that we impact the forested area the least amount?’ I think they’re following that same line of thinking with Fraser Highway.”
In an effort to strengthen British Columbia’s ambulance system, the provincial government has announced funding for over 100 new responders and additional resources, as well as restructured the BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) board of directors. The announcement was made on Wednesday afternoon by Health Minister Adrian Dix, who said that this move will allow the board to “focus solely on ambulance services.” “When we call for help, we need to know help is on the way and that it will arrive quickly,” he said. “Immediate action on operations, as well as stronger leadership and increased investment at BC Emergency Health Services, will deliver a more effective ambulance service for patients and families who depend on it.” In order to reinforce ambulance operations, Dix also said that BC would provide funding for the following resources, which includes over 100 new responders:
- 85 new full-time paramedics
- 30 full-time dispatchers
- 22 new ambulances
The provincial government will also restructure 22 rural ambulance stations to 24/7 ALPHA stations, which will improve ambulance coverage in rural communities. Health authorities have also been directed to add additional staff to emergency departments, which will help receive patients and provide care for them. To better support health workers, the BCEHS has also been directed to put together a team of mental health and wellness professionals who will work directly with dispatch staff and paramedics. The restructuring also includes the appointment of Jim Chu, former chief constable of the Vancouver Police Department (VPD), to chair the board. Additionally, Dix announced that a Chief Ambulance Officer will now be responsible for the day-to-day management of BC’s Ambulance Service. Leanne Heppell, who currently serves as the Chief Operating Officer for Acute Care and Chief of Professional Practice and Nursing at Providence Health Care, has been appointed on an interim basis. Telus President and CEO Darren Entwistle will also serve as a special advisor for the board.
BC health officials announced 41 new test-positive COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, bringing the total number of recorded cases in the province to 148,228. In a written statement, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix said that there are 639 active cases of COVID-19 in the province. Of the active cases, 65 individuals are currently hospitalized, 11 of whom are in intensive care. The remaining people are recovering at home in self-isolation.
New and total active cases, broken down by health region, are as follows:
- Fraser Health: 11 new cases, 165 total active cases
- Vancouver Coastal Health: 10 new cases, 258 total active cases
- Interior Health: 16 new cases, 157 total active cases
- Northern Health: Two new cases, 28 total active cases
- Island Health: One new case, 24 total active cases
- Outside of Canada: One new case, Seven total active cases
There have been no new COVID-19-related deaths, for a total of 1,760 deaths in British Columbia. To date, 80.3% of all eligible people 12 and over have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. In total, 5,865,484 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in BC, 2,191,315 of which are second doses. 145,817 people who tested positive have now recovered.
Fraser Health declared a recent COVID-19 outbreak over at Eagle Ridge Hospital. With the implementation of comprehensive strategies, there is no longer an outbreak at this site. It is critically important for people living in the Fraser Health region to get tested as soon as you have COVID-19-like symptoms, even mild ones. Please don’t wait, and book or drop by one of our collection centres which are operated in partnership with local Divisions of Family Practice. People living in the Fraser Health region can find information about test collection centres by visiting Fraser Health’s website.