False Creek private surgery clinic sold to Toronto equity company


False Creek private surgery clinic sold to Toronto equity company

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Dr. Amin Javer and his team perform sinus surgery on a patient at False Creek Healthcare Centre in Vancouver.

Arlen Redekop / PNG

A Toronto private-equity company has bought False Creek Healthcare Centre in Vancouver, one of B.C.’s first private surgery and diagnostic facilities.

In a memo to employees obtained by Postmedia, the owner of the facility and four others in Canada — Centric Health — says the deal is expected to close at the end of September. The buyer is Kensington Capital Advisers.

Doctors and patients can expect a “business as usual” transition followed by an improvement in facilities and quality of care, according to Kirk Hamilton, vice-president of Kensington. The company, which describes itself as an investor in “alternative assets” bought the clinics in Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto and Mississauga for $35 million. The clinics will be owned by the Kensington Private Equity Fund.

False Creek was opened in the late 1990s by an entrepreneurial Vancouver anesthesiologist, Dr. Mark Godley. In 2011, he sold the Vancouver centre and a sister facility in Winnipeg to Centric Health for $24 million.

The surgical clinics have apparently been a drag on Centric’s financial bottom line. In the memo to employees, David Murphy, the Centric CEO, said the “bittersweet” transaction is the culmination of a year-long review to improve the company’s financial health.

The decision was made “that the most viable path forward was to divest some of our businesses and pursue a more focused strategy built around our seniors’ pharmacy business.”

Murphy nevertheless told employees the growth potential for the private surgery business is “immense” and that Kensington is “the right owner for this business” as it is committed to increasing investment in each of the surgical sites.

“I am confident they will partner with you to help this business realize its tremendous growth potential.”

In B.C., changing government policies initiated by the NDP have been destabilizing the private surgery business. There is the uncertain outcome of the continuing B.C. trial into the constitutionality of paying privately for expedited surgery in such clinics. Closing arguments in the three-year-long trial will not be made before the fall and a judge’s decision is not expected until sometime in 2020.

Murphy mentioned B.C.’s political and legal situation in the company’s latest quarterly report in which Centric cites risks in the private surgery business, including the B.C. trial and NDP government policies.

Asked about the wisdom of buying a private surgery centre in B.C., Hamilton said in an email: “The acquisition includes multiple facilities across Canada and isn’t limited to False Creek. Currently, the False Creek facility does not provide any services to the B.C. government. However, we would be open to providing similar patient services to the B.C. government in the future.”

He was referring to the fact that for many years, health authorities have paid several private clinics to help clear backlogs of scheduled surgeries. But most private clinics also take patients willing to pay out of pocket for expedited surgery, something the government maintains is illegal.

Last fall, the government introduced so-called compliance letters. Surgeons who do any work at private clinics that have contracts with health authorities must sign statements promising they won’t do medically necessary work in both the public and private systems. If they refuse, they could be banned from doing publicly funded operations at private clinics that have contracts with health authorities.

Vancouver Coastal Health has contracted out elective surgery cases to the False Creek clinic in the past, but last year, Health Minister Adrian Dix instructed VCH to sever its contract with False Creek because an audit showed some patients were paying privately to get expedited access, contrary to provincial law.

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Twitter: @MedicineMatters


Dark web detectives and cannabis sommeliers: Here are some jobs that could exist in the future | CBC News

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What do a dark web detective, cannabis sommelier and therapist hairdresser have in common?

They’re all on a list of professions that workplace experts say could exist by the year 2030.

In a report called Signs of the Times: Expert insights about employment in 2030, the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship — a policy institute set up to help Canadians navigate the innovation economy — brings together insights into the future of work gleaned from workshops held across the country.

The report coming out Monday is part of a bigger project called Employment in 2030. This deep dive into the future of work will culminate next year with a strategic forecast into which skills will be most important in the Canadian labour market in the coming decade.

Held in six locations and attended by more than 120 experts, the workshop asked attendees to address the serious business of assessing future demand for various regionally appropriate occupations, providing data that will be used to inform research for that final report, due out in winter 2020.

But as part of an imaginative exercise geared at exploring the complex ways technological, social and environmental trends will intersect to create new kinds of jobs, the experts also came up with a list of would-be professions — some more fanciful than others — that today’s kids just might aspire to be when they grow up.

‘New opportunities’

Sarah Doyle, director of policy and research at the Brookfield Institute, is careful to note that these aren’t data-backed findings or predictions, but rather a compelling and playful way to look at how work may evolve. 

“It was interesting getting a sense of how experts thought different trends might interact to produce new opportunities, and where they thought there might be different demand and interest from consumers in particular kinds of products and services,” Doyle said.

Brookfield Institute’s previous Employment in 2030 publication, reported on by CBC News in April, documented 31 trends that have implications for the world of work.

These range from disruptive technologies, such as artificial intelligence and blockchain, to issues like resource scarcity and the loneliness that stems from connecting digitally instead of face to face.

Our connected-but-disconnected lives could, theoretically, bring about the advent of “wisdom services” for school kids adept at communicating on smartphones and game servers but short on real-world coping skills, said Brookfield economist Diana Rivera, project lead for Employment in 2030.

“Participants felt that kids, in particular, were getting worse at interactions and at knowing how to deal with certain situations.” As a result, schools could morph the usual guidance counselling, which typically centres around helping teens pick classes and career paths, into a more holistic form of mentorship, she said.

Diana Rivera is an economist with the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship, and the lead on a project called Employment in 2030. Rivera said factors such as climate change, automation and data privacy issues could intersect in ways we’ve never thought about to create new kinds of work in the future. (Brookfield Institute)


And from the time-honoured tradition of sharing one’s troubles with your bartender or hair stylist, sprung the idea of the therapist hairdresser, one who could marry a haircut or blowout with a form of counselling.

Rivera said she found the therapist hairdresser discussions “really fascinating, especially in the age of Queer Eye,” referring to the popular makeover TV show that’s as much about examining your wounded psyche as it is your dated wardrobe.

Given hairdressing conferences already offer sessions in conflict resolution and counselling, “explicitly signalling that ability to offer a more holistic service could become much more prevalent or important,” she said.

“There’s a high level of trust when you sit in that chair, so that’s already a barrier that they’ve already overcome. Given the right training, [stylists are] in a really great position to really offer some powerful advice.”

Dark web detectives and personal data bodyguards

Also related to our connected world, new professions could emerge based on demand for services that range from protecting our data to unearthing questionable activity online. One such example noted in the report: dark web detective.

These investigators could assist police by digging around in the dark web’s criminal underworlds, or be hired as private investigators to plumb a political opponent’s secrets.  

“There are people who are very skilled at finding information, so monetizing that, I don’t think, is beyond the realm of possibility,” said Rivera.

Likewise, the report notes there could emerge a need for personal data bodyguards who protect clients’ personal data against hacking and interference from corporations or governments.

That’s not so far-fetched, said Lisa Kearney, founder and CEO of Women CyberSecurity Society, a non-profit that supports women and girls interested in cybersecurity careers. Demand for people to work in Canada’s cybersecurity industry is expected to reach 28,000 workers by 2021.

Consult your cannabis sommelier?

Just as we tap into the expertise of wine, beer and even water sommeliers to find out what’s good to drink, experts on the Brookfield panels felt it won’t be long before there’s money to be made as an expert on the best varieties of cannabis to consume.

Having help to find flavour profiles that suit your personal tastes could make sense as cannabis continues to become more widely available following legalization last year, said Rivera.

The legalization of recreational marijuana consumption could lead to the rise of experts who advise consumers on cannabis products they might enjoy. (Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)

In fact, as pot shops open in the provinces and territories where bricks-and-mortar sales are permitted, cannabis connoisseurs have already been finding work.

“I think there’s a whole country waiting to see what’s good in that space that doesn’t necessarily have that exposure. That whole sector just opened up and it can create a lot of possibility.”

Some other imagined jobs of the future noted in the report include:

  • Virtual stylists who use virtual-reality technology to show clients how various hair and wardrobe styles would suit them, or even how a new sectional would look in their living room. 
  • Mobility facilitators who help address the aging population’s mobility and accessibility needs.
  • Resource/energy diplomats who help broker resource deals during times of international conflict, whether those stem from resource scarcity, or other geopolitical issues.
  • Consumption reduction consultants who help governments, businesses and even individuals to reduce their resource consumption.

Thinking beyond tech changes

Steven Tobin, executive director of the Ottawa-based Labour Market Information Council, a non-profit that helps Canadians access information about the changing job market, said the exercise is useful as a way to consider how forces beyond technology will continue to impact the world of work.

“These changes, be they population aging, climate change or technological developments, are happening simultaneously and interacting with one another.” 

Brookfield’s Sarah Doyle echoes that sentiment. “I think a lot of the conversation about the future of work has been captured by a focus on how automation might lead to job change or job loss … but it’s not the only thing that’s happening.”


How did we get here? Failed public policy and Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside | CBC News

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Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside has been the epicentre of homelessness and drug addiction in the province for decades. It has also been the focus of public policy to address these problems for almost as many years.

Yet for a neighbourhood in the public spotlight, a walk along East Hastings Street these days looks like policymakers have turned a blind eye. 

Mayor Kennedy Stewart recently acknowledged to Stepehn Quinn, the host of CBC’s The Early Edition, that the notorious neighbourhood is in the worst shape he has ever seen. Homelessness and open drug use are hard to miss on area streets. and people who have been on the front lines of housing, addiction and mental health programming say years of inadequate services are partly to blame.

Donald MacPherson, the former drug-policy coordinator for the City of Vancouver and current director of the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, has seen a lot of policies introduced into the Downtown Eastside, including the highly-lauded Vancouver Agreement in 2000.

The Oppenheimer Park homeless camp on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Signed by all three levels of government, the agreement was a 10-year plan to improve housing and social welfare in the area. According MacPherson, many of the agreement’s initiatives “came to a crashing end when the Harper Government was elected and did not participate.”

“A well thought-out strategy to provide supportive housing, mental health and addiction treatments city-wide, to provide harm reduction services city-wide, never really actualized,” said MacPherson.

Today, the concentration of homeless people on the streets and in Oppenheimer Park’s tent city shows the problems the Vancouver Agreement intended to fix are far from solved.

 Retired politician Libby Davies, a former city councillor and NDP member of Parliament for Vancouver East who was the federal housing critic, has seen a lot of housing ideas come and go.

 “If you can’t have a sustainable program — and that’s critical for housing —  and if you don’t have the partnership of the federal government … it creates a dire, serious situation.”

Protesters at the intersection of Main and Hastings Street calling for affordable housing in August 2019. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

After the Vancouver Agreement, Davies said the federal government was notably absent from housing initiatives. 

“We had this huge gap where nothing was happening, because the federal government had opted out of and completely abandoned building new social housing,” said Davies. “We’re still recovering from that.”

In 2017, the federal government announced a 10-year multibillion-dollar national housing strategy. Davies hopes it is more than lip service.

“Big announcements are one thing, but getting the money, shovels in the ground … this is what’s urgently needed right now,” said Davies.

A police car cruises an alley on the Downtown Eastside. (Rafferty Baker/CBC News)

Dr. John Miller, former B.C. provincial health officer, said modular housing is one step in helping the homeless and precariously housed, but without “wrap-around’ support services for mental health and addiction, chaos will continue.

He said when Riverview Hospital closed in the 1970s many patients from the  mental health facility gravitated to the DTES and policymakers planned to put mental health services in the community.

“The second step never happened and still hasn’t happened,” said Miller. “Mental health services, addiction services, physical disability services, all of these things need to be there, and we haven’t really put them in place thoroughly yet.”

MacPherson, author of the city’s Four Pillars Drug Strategy, which is based on the principals of harm reduction, prevention, treatment and enforcement, said the strategy was “never really implemented” and addicts are not getting the help they need.

“We keep propping up this failed drug policy that we have in Canada that continues to criminalize vulnerable people, push them into the shadows and make them the target of the problem,” said MacPherson.

The Vancouver Agreement signed in 2000 by all three levels of government was a 10-year plan to improve housing and social welfare on the Downtown Eastside that the city’s then drug policy co-ordinator says never really materialized. (Rafferty Baker/CBC News)


Overdose deaths in B.C. decline in first six months of 2019

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This June 2016 photo provided by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police shows printer ink bottles containing carfentanil imported from China, in Vancouver.

The latest figures from British Columbia’s coroners service show fewer people are dying from illicit drug overdoses and there has been a decrease in the number of deaths related to carfentanil over the past two months.

The service says 73 people died of suspected illicit drug overdoses in June, a drop of 35 per cent compared with 113 for the same month last year.

The service says fentanyl was detected in more than four out of every five deaths in 2018 and during the first six months of this year.

The detection of carfentanil peaked at 32 deaths in March, but the service says there was a decrease in the number of deaths related to this synthetic opioid in May and June.

Overall for the first six months of 2019, there were 538 suspected overdose deaths from illicit drugs, down from 763 for the same period last year.

The service says males accounted for 78 per cent of all suspected illicit drug toxicity deaths for the first six months of 2019.



Metro Vancouver’s best ice cream: And the winner is …

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Think back to some of your favourite celebrations. Odds are, ice cream was present for at least one of them.

“Any type of childhood or celebration with family and friends — the commonality is always ice cream,” Mark Tagulao, the founder and culinary director of La Glace in Vancouver says. “Celebrations, or even quiet moments with loved ones, that’s when you eat it. And I think that’s the underlying element of why we love it.

“It’s nostalgic. And it tastes good.”

The fact that it’s cool and creamy — and quite possibly the perfect summer treat — doesn’t hurt its almost-universal appeal, either. But, if you’re to ask Tagulao, you don’t need to be celebrating anything special to enjoy a good scoop.

“I could honestly polish off a litre in one sitting. That sounds really bad to admit,” he says with a laugh. “But, at least you know that I like it.”

Mint and chocolate scoops from La Glace.

Handout /

La Glace

Those who have stopped by Tagulao’s much-loved Vancouver ice cream shop, which set up shop at 2785 W 16th Ave. two years ago, are likely as well versed on the topic of quality ice cream as he is. In fact, the cold, creamy treats at La Glace are so delicious, they were voted by our readers as the best in the city.

“Oh, wow! That’s crazy,” Tagulao humbly exclaimed after being notified of the win. “It’s always great when you make something and people respond really well to it.”

Though, he admits to having a head’s up that his ice cream was truly memorable during a recent TED Talks event where he was sharing samples of his ice cream.

“There was this one woman who came up and was insisting on getting more ice cream,” Tagulao says with a laugh. “And I looked up, and it was Cher.”

Needless to say, he gave her a full-sized scoop rather than the tiny sample spoonful.

“That was a pretty cool moment,” Tagulao says.

Celebrities aside, taking the top spot on our reader-chosen list means that the efforts that Tagulao and his team have been making to get customers into the shop are more than working. Situated outside of the downtown core, La Glace is more of a destination for ice cream fans than a place that people simply stumble upon while exploring the city.

The location is an element that’s played a part in the growth story of La Glace, for better or for worse, prompting Tagulao to make sure that every lick or spoonful enjoyed at his store leaves a lasting impression on his customers to ensure that they come back for another scoop. And tell others to do so, too.

“We have a lot of regulars, and there have been a lot of new people coming in this summer,” he says proudly of his growing business. “It is more about getting the word out there because it is one of those places that is a destination. But, the fact is that people do make a point to come and check it out, and for newcomers who say that they heard about it and they heard great things — they’re making the effort to come out, too.”

One taste of the shop’s creamy creations is all that’s required to understand that these blends aren’t your average scoops of store-bought sweet stuff. The small-batch ice cream, which is made from scratch using a base of creme anglaise — a thick custard-like concoction containing heavy cream and egg yolks — is classified by Tagulao as French ice cream, a distinction he says helps to set it apart from the rest of the shops in the city.

“I think we’re still teaching Vancouverites that there are different types of ice cream,” Tagulao says of the dairy distinction. “The fact that we use Avalon Dairy Heavy Cream and egg yolks, for sure make it a much more rich, decadent product.”

The depth of flavour, and overall richness of the product, contributes to the scoop size that La Glace dishes out. In comparison to other shops, the servings may seem small. It’s a portion talking-point Tagulao says he often finds himself explaining to customers.

“When we started introducing our scoop service when we first opened up, people would look at the scoop and be like, ‘Oh, that’s a modest-sized scoop.’,” he recalls. “I think people are more used to American-style ice cream where you get a huge scoop and it starts to melt really fast and you have to eat it right away. The reason it melts really fast is that there’s more aeration in it and that’s why you get larger scoops.”

Vegan Coconut Pandan ice cream from La Glace.

Handout /

La Glace

Typically though, about halfway through a serving, Tagulao says those naysaying newcomers realize just why the portions are the restricted size that they are.

“When they started eating it, they were like ‘Whoa, this is really rich’,” he says with a laugh. “The fact is, you only need a little bit to satiate your appetite for it.”

The less-is-more approach is something that fans of Italian gelato are familiar with, where portion sizes are smaller and flavours more vivid. But, Tagulao is the first to inform customers that La Glace’s artisan iced treats are not gelato.

“We’re not gelato, we’re French ice cream,” he emphasizes. “There are a lot of great ice cream places in Vancouver, but we’ve kind of differentiated ourselves in the way that we are French ice cream and we make everything from scratch.

“We’re trying to create and maintain that level of high-end, luxury ice cream that’s accessible to everybody.”

That accessibility ambition has seen Tagulao introduce a curated selection of La Glace flavours into local grocery stores this season.

“It’s exciting,” he says of the wholesale branch of the business. “It’s definitely a new challenge each year. We’re in the beginning of year three now, and I see ‘expansion’ being the big word for us this year.”

But, he assures fans of his hand-crafted ice creams that the increased production won’t change the richness of his flavours.

“Because we are small batch, that’s where we can really maintain the quality of our product. You can scale up, if you scale up properly. For us, our plan is to do it slow and steady,” he says. “There’s certain compromises that I will not take that would sacrifice the quality. That’s what I really want to adhere to, is to not to dilute the product or the brand at all.”

At La Glace, the menu consists of a few steady favourites including Vanilla Bean, Vegan Coco Pandan Ice Cream with Pandan-infused coconut cream and Ganache Ice Cream.

“We have people who are angry if we ever run out of ganache,” Tagulao says with a laugh of the dark-chocolate mixture of heavy cream and chocolate that is a go-to for many of the shop’s regulars. “We use Valrhona chocolate, which is a really high-end chocolate supplier from France.

“People cant’ get enough of it.”

In addition to the regular flavours, there’s a revolving selection of specials that change each month.

“There’s about 20 or so flavours that rotate through each month. And then we always incorporate some seasonal flavours, as well,” Tagulao says. “We are always trying to do some new recipes. I like to play in the kitchen, so I always add in another flavour as a surprise.”

Tagulao admits that it’s the recipe testing — and tasting — that continues to be his favourite part of the job.

“Being able to be creative is what motivates me,” he says. “I always want to have something new to offer, but I also want to respect the fact that customers have their favourites.”

So, which flavour is his personal favourite?

“I know it’s going to sound really boring, but it’s the vanilla bean,” Tagulao says of his favourite flavour. “There’s just something about being able to add things to your ice cream. I’ll get the vanilla — but I’ll always throw in a spoonful of peanut butter or Maldon salt.

“I like playing with my ice cream that way.”

[email protected]

Best ice cream shops, as recommended by our readers:

Metro residents know their hot spots when it comes to scoring the perfect ice cream (Note: we didn’t break down the voting into categories such as ice cream, gelato or soft serve. We’ll let you do that).

When we asked our readers to submit their recommendations for the best ice cream in Metro — and beyond — via social media and email, there were a few that immediately came out on top.

Hungry for the details? Here are the top 23 destination in and around the city to get a sweet ice cream treat.

As always, if you didn’t take part in our vote, well then, you’re not allowed to complain about the results. But you’re welcome to add your recommendations in the comments below.


Alice & Brohm1861 Mamquam Rd #9, Squamish, aliceandbrohm.com

Bella Gelateria1001 W Cordova St, Vancouver, bellagelateria.com

Beta 5413 Industrial Ave, Vancouver, shop.beta5chocolates.com

Birchwood Dairy1154 Fadden Rd, Abbotsford, birchwooddairy.com

Dolce Gelato15045 Marine Dr, White Rock, 604-535-1070

Earnest Ice Cream (various locations) — 1829 Quebec St, Vancouver, earnesticecream.com

Elephant Garden Creamery2080 Commercial Dr, Vancouver, elephantgarden.ca

Glenburn Soda Fountain & Confectionary4090 Hastings St, Burnaby, glenburnsoda.com

Hottiesfoods Emporio31170 Dewdney Trunk Rd, Mission, hottiesfoods.com

Kent’s Ice Cream Co 47582 Yale Rd, Chilliwack, kentsicecreamco.ca

La Casa Gelato1033 Venables St, Vancouver, lacasagelato.com

La Glace2785 W 16th Ave, Vancouver, laglace.ca

Mario’s Gelati Ltd.88 E 1st Ave, Vancouver, mariosgelati.com

Mighty Moose Ice Cream42333 Yarrow Central Rd, Chilliwack, mighty-moose-ice-cream.business.site

Mike’s Place268 Gower Point Rd, Gibsons, mikesgelato.ca

Mister Artisan Ice Cream1141 Mainland St, Vancouver, madebymister.com

Nuvola Gelato & Dolci4712 Hastings St, Burnaby, nuvolagelato.com

Rain or Shine Ice Cream (various locations) — 3382 Cambie St, Vancouver, rainorshineicecream.com

Rocky Point Ice Cream (various locations) — 500 6th Ave #100, New Westminster, rockypointicecream.com

Rooster’s Ice Cream Bar1039 E Broadway, Vancouver, 778-379-6889

Screamers Soft Serve & Treats12211 Third Ave, Richmond, screamerssoftserve.cat

Soft Peaks Ice Cream25 Alexander St, Vancouver, softpeaks.ca

Umaluma Dairy-Free Gelato235 E Pender St, Vancouver, umaluma.com

[email protected]


‘That’ll teach me to lock my doors now’: Video shows B.C. bear easily opening car door | CBC News

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When a Vancouver woman discovered the doors of her car had been opened, she thought someone had broken in — until she saw a giant paw print on the seat.

After seeing security camera footage, Terry McPhail later found out that print belonged to a black bear.

“There was slobber on both handles and a little bit inside,” McPhail said. 

She had been house-sitting in the village of Anmore, near Port Moody, B.C., and had parked her car in the driveway of the remote private property.

She said when the dog she was watching for the owners of the house started barking, she wasn’t too surprised as bears are common in the Anmore area.

She found evidence of the intruder when she returned to her car later that day.

Four days later, when the property’s owners returned, McPhail was able to go through the security footage and confirmed the culprit was a bear:

The bear appeared to have no problem standing up and opening the car doors, she said.

“‘That is not the first time this bear has opened a car door,’ is what went though my mind. And the second thing that went through my mind was: ‘That’ll teach me to lock my doors now,'” she said. 

After viewing the footage, McPhail realized she had missed the bear by minutes after the dog barked enough to send her looking outside. 

“It took [the bear] one minute and 38 seconds to get in the one side and get fully inside and have a look around. And then less than a minute to open the other door, look in and then wander off,” she said.

McPhail says there was no food in the car. 

Apart from the slobber, the bear left the car in its original condition, she said.


Ian Mulgrew: Former B.C. Supreme Court judge’s vibrant voice lives on in lively letters

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Even in the age of email, letters seduce us — the intimacy of a personal voice drawing us in, often revealing as much about the author as the subject, offering a glimpse, a sliver of a life.

And correspondence penned nearly half a century ago by retired B.C. Supreme Court Justice Harry Boyle vibrantly evokes the quotidian aspects of his legal practice and its emotional toll.

Believe it or not, there was a time in this province when lawyers charged only $30 a day — and wore their humanity on their sleeves, sometimes representing an offender on a whim out of compassion:

“This appeal was not authorized by legal aid … Since it was not authorized, I have submitted no account with respect to it apart from adding one to ‘days in court’ on the enclosed form. If you feel this is sneaking around the end, then please deduct $30.”

Now 93, Boyle came from a legal family in Penticton, but he started in journalism in the 1950s at The Whitehorse Star.

He worked in a dilapidated garage under the motto Illegitimus non carborundum, mock Latin for “Don’t let the bastards grind you down.”

A visit to Yukon by federal officials triggered Boyle’s headline: “Better class of drinkers in town.”

He turned to law in 1963.

Vancouver lawyer Don Rosenbloom laughed upon hearing I had found a selection of his former’s partner’s letters published as a booklet in the mid-1990s by the Legal Services Society for young lawyers.

Judge Harry Boyle in his office in 1980 with a poster of W.C. Fields behind him. The photo caption at the time noted: ‘British Columbia provincial court judge Harry Boyle has little in common with W.C. Fields but they share a reputation for having a sense of humour.’

Steve Bosch /

PNG files

When a letterhead envelope from their office arrived at legal aid in the ’70s, Rosenbloom recalled: “They were always disappointed if it contained my bills instead of his — his letters were cherished.”

Boyle wrote them to Frank Maczko, then executive director of legal aid, explaining his fees.

Sometimes it was a brief note: “I am billing for trial since I prepared for trial and was un-notified of the stay until the date for trial. If this is not cricket (or baseball as played by the New York Mets), I expect you will advise me.”

The wry epistles, however, capture Boyle’s personality and, read today, offer us a chance to ask whether the profession has significantly changed.

Some things, like winning a friendly judge, certainly haven’t: “I appeared to fix a date on Dec. 14 and looked up to see one of the pleasantest sights a man could see in court — his honour Judge (Nicholas) Mussallem on the bench.

“Seizing the opportunity, since in my opinion, they had Mr. B. cold, I pleaded him guilty. He was fined $75 despite a lengthy record and given till Feb. 1 to pay and further advised by his hour Judge Mussallem — if he found it difficult to pay by that time to be sure and let him know.”

Services for the mentally ill remains problematic, if less harrowing.

Boyle recounted the case of a client, accused of attacking his wife and baby with a knife, remanded to the old Colony Farm facility for the criminally insane for psychiatric tests.

“I visited him out there,” he wrote, “and after the brief period of my own visit I wondered whether I was crazy. It is an appalling place to send someone whose sanity or insanity is in doubt.”

He managed to have the man released after a terrifying 30 days in bedlam:

“In the meantime, I understand that his friends got together and bought him a one-way ticket to New Zealand, which is his home, and where all concerned hope that relatives will take over and see that he is provided with psychiatric care. I have not yet informed the court that the bird has flown, but plan to do so in the hope that they will agree that his flight is the best practical answer to the problem … I can’t help feeling it is another comment on the system when the best possible solution is a one-way ticket out of town.”

Like the addled, the addicted continue to pose a dilemma.

Boyle worried they also had “a fly-paper-like quality to which all the minor sections of the criminal code seem to adhere.”

A judge had the power back then to order committal for treatment — but there was an abundance of loopholes and no easy moral answer for a defence lawyer like Boyle:

“If a man has been picked up six or eight times ‘dead drunk in the gutter’ who wins if he’s kept out of (treatment)? Providing that the evidence with respect to the circumstances of the subject’s life is accurate and properly produced, then there seems to be a fairly strong argument for drying him out for his own protection.

“On the other hand, perhaps a man has the right to choose his own path to disability and death, but it puts the lawyer in a tough spot if he takes the drinker by the hand and leads him through a legal loophole to self-destruction.”

Provincial court Judge Harry Boyle, in 1979, kept the Crown in mind in his deliberations, evidenced by the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II hanging above him.

Ralph Bower /

PNG files

The system still runs on recidivism: The same people over and over again, an inter-generational revolving door.

Consider Boyle’s relationship with a 13-year-old boy facing incarceration: “Donald, what would keep you out of trouble?”

“Horseback riding,” the adolescent replied.

“That’s the first simple answer I have ever heard to the delinquency question,” Boyle wrote, before paraphrasing Richard III: “I wish I had a horse.”

That boy was soon back in his office, repeatedly.

Barely an adult, he was prosecuted for stabbing a man in a “friendly” drunken Skid Road dispute; Boyle noted Donald helped the victim back to his hotel and provided medical attention.

“Some of the merriment goes out of the situation when you realize that when Donald was a little boy his father used to take him down to the basement and with the family forced to look on, would beat Donald with a 2×4 until he bled as a disciplinary example … He is a likeable, intelligent, young man …”

At 19, Donald was up for strong-arming a store owner.

“He was up to five caps a day in heroin, but somewhere inside there are still strong streaks of decency, honesty and humour. He and his younger brother used to stay in the movies until they closed and then sleep in the lobbies of skid road hotels. When his brother was 12, the brother was taken to Brannan Lake (School for Boys in Nanaimo) and he was subsequently adopted by a good strong family. Since then the brother has become an outstanding athlete and a good student.

“Donald did not get quite the same breaks, and what breaks he did get he couldn’t put to the best use. I get flashes occasionally when I see my own kids sitting at the counsel table and the whole thing really comes home.”

Boyle’s letters are poignant reminders that little has changed in the practise of criminal law, especially the heartache.

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Huge demand spurs Victoria book store to move to larger location | CBC News

by admin

In a world of tablets and smartphones, it’s hard to imagine a book store doing so well it needs to be relocated to a larger venue.

But that’s what’s happening at Russell Books in downtown Victoria, where demand has prompted a move to bigger digs across Fort Street.

The new location will increase the store’s floorspace by about a third, and will greatly improve accessibility thanks to an escalator and elevator.

Now, co-owner Andrea Minter and her staff are in the process of moving three floors of books — most of them stacked from hardwood to ceiling — to their new home.

“You can never replace a book,” says Minter, describing their appeal as she packs up another box of heavy tomes.

“People enjoy picking up a book. The feel of it, the smell of it.”

Minter, who owns and operates Russell Books with her husband and her brother, says much of the store’s success is thanks to its strong local customer base and its recognition as a tourism hotspot.

‘We specialize in everything,’ says co-owner Andrea Minter about the selection at Russell Books. (Andrea Minter)

“It helps selling a product you believe in, as well,” added Minter. “We take great pride in having a large collection of everything. We specialize in everything.”

Having a large selection of books available for sale is something Minter’s family has taken seriously for generations. In the early 1960s her grandfather, Reginald Russell, opened the first Russell Books in Montreal.

Reginald Russell was a banker with a love for reading who collected many books. He decided to sell his collection to the public and ran the shop with his mother. Decades later, he convinced his daughter, Diana Depol, to open a second Victoria location in 1991.

Depol and her husband ran the Victoria store for many years before handing the business over to Minter, their daughter.

Now another chapter of Russell’s history is about to begin with the move to larger digs.

As she helps pack up thousands of books, Minter is glad the move is just across the street.

“Books are heavy,” she said, smiling.

With files from All Points West


Surrey RCMP investigating after man shot in head Monday morning

by admin

Police are investigating after a man was shot in the head early Monday morning in Surrey’s Whalley neighbourhood.

John Kenney / Postmedia

Police are investigating after a man was shot in the head early Monday morning in Surrey’s Whalley neighbourhood.

RCMP received calls around 1:50 a.m. on Monday reporting gunfire in the 10600-block of King George Boulevard.

The man was taken to hospital for treatment and released.

Serious crime investigators are looking into the shooting and early indications are that the shooting was targeted.

No suspects have been publicly identified and there have been no arrests in the shooting.

Anyone with information about the shooting or who may have security camera footage of the shooting is asked to contact investigators.

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Lyft confirms plan to launch ride-hailing service in Vancouver

by admin

Lyft plans to start serving the ride-hailing market in Metro Vancouver in the fall of 2019.


The ride-hailing company Lyft intends to operate in Vancouver, according to a prepared statement released by the company on Monday.

Lyft, which competes globally in the ride-hailing market with Uber, has also appointed Peter Lukomskyj as its general manager in B.C. The managing director of Lyft in Canada is Aaron Zifkin.

In the prepared statement, Lukomskyj thanked the NDP government and provincial Green party for allowing ride-hailing in B.C.

Last month, Transportation Minister Claire Trevena revealed its long-awaited regulations on licensing and insurance for ride-hailing, saying it was now possible for ride-hailing companies to enter the market this fall “with vehicles on the road later this year, while ensuring the safety of passengers and promoting accessibility options in the industry.”

“British Columbians have been asking and waiting for these services after more than five years of delay by the former government,” Trevena said at the time. “We took action to allow for the services people want and we’re delivering on that promise. Our plan has made it possible for ride-hailing companies to apply to enter the market this fall.”

Ride-hailing companies have to apply to the Passenger Transportation Board for permission to operate, with applications being accepted starting Sept. 3. The board also sets guidelines for fares, boundaries and numbers of vehicles.

All drivers will have to have a Class 4 commercial driving licence in order to drive for one of these companies.

At the time of Trevena’s announcement, Zifkin said this ruling would limit the number of drivers available in the Vancouver market.

“Ninety-one per cent of the drivers on our platform drive less than 20 hours a week. These are people like single moms, students in school and people trying to supplement their incomes. As soon as you introduce that Class 4 commercial licence, these people tend not to apply for that type of work,” Zifkin said.

In Monday’s statement, Lukomskyj said the company would work with all levels of government in the region — including the Ministry of Transportation and the Passenger Transportation Board — “to be a part of the province’s transportation network and help create a frictionless experience for British Columbians.”


Lyft was founded in the U.S. in 2012 and operates in Toronto and Ottawa.

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