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31Dec

Video shows cougar hanging out on Maple Ridge deck

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A man from Maple Ridge, B.C. has shared video of a hair-raising encounter he had with a cougar over the weekend.

Kevyn Helmer said he locked his own cat in the bathroom after finding the apex predator hanging out on his deck on 287th Street Sunday afternoon.

“There’s a big, scary kitty cat out front,” Helmer says in a Facebook video. “My cat’s in the washroom, he’s meowing away.”

The video shows the cougar lounging right beside the door, barely paying attention as Helmer watches through the glass for several minutes.

“The road is right up there, so if anybody comes walking by – oh, man,” Helmer says. “I hope no kids or nobody walking their dog goes by the front gate there.”

The nervous resident called authorities to the home and they apparently managed to chase the cougar away without incident.

“He’s a big, nice kitty I’m sure they’ll take care of it,” Helmer says in a follow-up video.

The B.C. Conservation Officer Service has not responded to a request for comment on what happened.

According to WildSafeBC, anyone who encounters a cougar outdoors is advised to keep calm, appear as big as possible and back away slowly while keeping the cougar in view.

“If a cougar shows aggression, or begins following you, respond aggressively in all cases as cougars see you as a meal: keep eye contact, yell and make loud noises. Pick up nearby sticks, rocks, or whatever you have at hand to quickly to use as a weapon if necessary,” the organization says on its website.

In the event of an attack, WildSafeBC recommends focusing on the cougar’s face and eyes.

Anyone who sees a cougar that could pose an immediate threat to public safety is asked to call conservation officers at 1-877-952-7277.  

 

Mountain Lion on front door step

Posted by Kevyn Helmer on Sunday, December 30, 2018


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10Dec

Suspect found dead days after aunt raised suicide concerns, inquest hears

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CTV Vancouver


Published Monday, December 10, 2018 12:27PM PST


Last Updated Monday, December 10, 2018 4:37PM PST

A coroner’s inquest began Monday into the death of David Singh Tucker, a sexual assault suspect whose body was discovered in a Surrey, B.C. pretrial facility two years ago.

Tucker, 28, was one of two men being held in custody following a disturbing attack at the University of British Columbia campus in May 2016, and was facing charges of sexual assault, unlawful confinement, robbery and disguising his face with the intent to commit a crime.

The suspect was being kept in a segregation unit when staff found him dead on July 25 of that year.

The inquest into his death began with testimony from his aunt, Susan Brennan, who read a statement from Tucker’s mother describing him as a troubled person who was diagnosed with behavioural disorders as a young boy.

Brennan told the jury her nephew had expressed a desire to turn his life around, and an interest in financial planning. She said he told her over the phone that he “was disgusted with himself” after his arrest.

“He felt like a monster,” she said.

Brennan also testified that Tucker shared plans to intentionally overdose on hoarded methadone while in custody, and she pleaded with officials at the Surrey Pretrial Services Centre to keep a close watch over him on July 20 – a few days before he was found dead.

According to the BC Coroners Service, Tucker was last seen alive when he was given his dinner around 4 p.m. on July 24. Officers found him unresponsive during a check the next morning.

One of the guards from the Surrey pretrial facility told the inquest Tucker was not on suicide watch at hte time, and that it was hard to see into his cell because the window on the door and the security camera lens were both scratched.

The jury also heard testimony from staff about how some inmates would pretend to drink their methadone by hiding gauze in their mouth to soak up the drug, which would then be sold to other inmates.

Tucker’s cause of death has never been publicly released. The inquest is expected to hear from a toxicologist and a pathologist on Tuesday.

The inquest will examine the facts surrounding Tucker’s death, but can’t make any finding of legal responsibility. The jury can make recommendations aimed at preventing similar deaths in the future.

With files from CTV Vancouver’s Nafeesa Karim  


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3Dec

North Van school addresses vaping problem by locking washrooms

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A high school in North Vancouver, B.C. is taking some extraordinary steps to curb the number of students meeting up during class time to vape. 

The number of teenagers using e-cigarette in washrooms, locker rooms and sometimes even classrooms has become a “very serious issue” at Seycove Secondary School, according to a bulletin that was distributed to parents on Friday.

“Students are arranging to meet in groups by texting each other during class time,” the bulletin said. “There is increased hallway traffic during classes, and a generally ‘casual’ response from students when (they) are asked to return to class.”

To curtail the vaping problem, staff said they are locking all student washrooms except one near the gymnasium and a gender-neutral washroom near the office.

Signs are being posted at closed washrooms alerting students they have been locked over “inappropriate use” and directing them to the locations that are still open.

Locker rooms are also being locked all day except at the beginning and end of classes, according to the bulletin, and supervision aides have been instructed to record the students they see in the halls during class time.

E-cigarettes simulate smoking by vapourizing fluid, which can vary in nicotine content and sometimes contains no nicotine at all. While the risks associated with the habit are still being studied, Health Canada currently believes vaping is harmful, but less harmful than regular cigarettes.

The agency is also unequivocally against nicotine use by teenagers.

“There is … clear evidence that nicotine exposure during adolescence adversely affects cognitive function and development,” the agency said in a May 2018 statement.

“Nicotine is a potent and powerfully addictive substance, particularly for youth. Vaping products containing nicotine could potentially lead to addiction, the subsequent use of tobacco products, and the renormalization of smoking behaviours.”

Not all parents are fans of Seycove’s response to the vaping problem. One woman told CTV News that limiting the number of available washrooms was an unacceptable response.  


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29Nov

‘Elvis has left the building’: Elusive otter manages to evade capture

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A wayward otter left a Chinatown garden the same way it got in: undetected.

The elusive creature managed to outwit humans and didn’t get captured by one of the nine traps; three were set up by the Vancouver Park Board and six were set up by a wildlife relocation specialist.

The expert was brought in last Friday, and the park board was optimistic the animal would be captured during the weekend. But as officials “otter” have known,  this was no ordinary critter. It didn’t fall for the salmon and tuna baits; it has a more expensive taste in fish.

The otter has caused havoc since it was first spotted at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden on Nov. 17. Since then, it has eaten 11 adult koi, each worth between $1,000 and $5,000, including Madonna, a prized fish believed to be more than 50 years old.

The presence of the unwanted guest forced the garden to shut down for nearly two weeks as officials tried to to lure it into one of the traps, but that hasn’t seemed to work. It was last seen Saturday, when garden staff tried to rescue and protect the remaining koi.

Officials now say there’s only one conclusion.

“As of this morning, there are still no signs of the otter. We feel like Elvis has left the building,” parks director Howard Normann said. “The otter came in the dark and probably left in the dark. We’re not sure exactly to this point, where it came from or where it went.”

 

 

But the park board and Dr. Sun Yat-Sen staff believe the otter may have slipped in through the gates, prompting them to install grates on the doors.

“We’re going to have automatic door closers. We’re putting a plate on the bottom to prevent the otter or any of the otter friends from revisiting the garden,” Normann said.

On Wednesday, park board staff, volunteers and specialists at the Vancouver Aquarium undertook the delicate work of moving the surviving adult koi, along with 344 baby koi, to the aquarium for safekeeping.

In the meantime, staff will be adding cameras and monitoring them to see if the otter returns before bringing the fish back to the garden, which likely won’t happen until the spring.

While the otter hasn’t been seen around Chinatown, it has been active on the Twitterverse.

Thursday morning, it told its followers it is off on a new adventure, but didn’t share where.

Garden looks for silver lining 

The executive director of the garden said it’s been an emotional time for staff and volunteers who have grown attached to the koi.

“The koi, they are very important as a decorative element in the garden, but going beyond being beautiful, they do have value from a cultural perspective,” executive director Vincent Kwan said.

“They have symbolic representations that tie to things related to perseverance, transformation, happiness, things that are very abstract, but elements that are engrained in the Chinese culture.”

The story has made headlines around the world and has put a spotlight on the garden.

 “I think the publicity is not a bad thing.  At the end of the day, what we feel is the attention and the various supports we got from the community are a sign that the garden is well-loved,” Kwan said.

Chinatown Today, a group focused on highlighting the neighbour’s past and present stories, describes the saga has “the most unexpected Chinatown story in recent memory.”

It created merchandise for people to show their allegiances. The proceeds go to help the garden.

The garden has been trying to replenish its koi population and hoped the adult koi had spawned.

When the remaining koi were rescued Wednesday, it showed staff their efforts had worked and the mature koi did produce more fish. Kwan called this a silver lining of the otter saga.




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23Nov

NEB to hold Trans Mountain reconsideration hearing in Victoria next week

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The National Energy Board will hear from Indigenous groups in Victoria next week as part of reconsideration hearings for the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion.

Sessions are set to take place at the Delta Hotel Ocean Pointe Resort beginning Monday, Nov. 26 and continuing through Thursday.

Over the week, the board will meet with members of the Stó:lō Tribal Council, Kwantlen First Nation, Tsawout First Nation, Tsartlip First Nation and Squamish Nation from B.C., and the Swinomish, Tulalip, Suquamish and Lummi Nations from the U.S.

In August, the Federal Court of Appeal overturned Ottawa’s approval of the project, saying the NEB’s initial environmental assessment was flawed.

The project was sent back to the review phase to address tanker traffic concerns and engage in more meaningful consultation with First Nations.

That decision came on the same day Kinder Morgan sold the pipeline to the Canadian government for $4.5-billion, not including construction costs.

In September, the NEB was given six months to complete the new review. It completed one hearing in Calgary on Tuesday, with the second taking place in Victoria next week.

First Nations and environmental groups have expressed concerns about the potential for diluted bitumen spills and increased tanker traffic on B.C.’s coast if the pipeline expansion is built.

Possibly expecting a large turnout of protesters, Victoria police said they would deploy temporary CCTV cameras near the Delta for the hearings.

After the new NEB hearings conclude, the board will have to submit a report with its new findings by Feb. 22, 2019. 


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23Nov

Deadline extended for B.C. referendum on electoral reform

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Elections BC has extended the voting period for the referendum on electoral reform by one week.

It will now accept completed voting packages until 4:30 p.m. on Dec.  7.

 “We have worked closely with Canada Post to understand the full impact of rotating strikes on the referendum process,” said Chief Electoral Officer Anton Boegman. “Rotating strikes have impacted accessibility. As a result, we have extended the deadline to ensure that voters are not prevented from participating through no fault of their own.”

The deadline to request a voting package has not changed and voters must request a package by midnight Friday, Nov. 23.

The package can be returned by mail or in person at a Referendum Service Office or Service BC Centre.

As of Friday morning, roughly 980,000 packages, which reflects 30 per cent eligible voters, have been returned to Elections BC. The numbers do not include the packages Canada Post received but have not been transferred yet.

Voters are being asked to choose whether the province should adopt a proportional representation model, or stick with first-past-the-post. Not sure what the options are? Here’s a quick explainer.


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22Nov

Abbotsford mom stuck in Ghana with adopted son hospitalized after MS flare-up

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An Abbotsford, B.C. mother who was been stuck in Ghana for months as she waits for the Canadian government to process the paperwork that would allow her and her newly adopted son to come home has been hospitalized after her multiple sclerosis flared up earlier this week.

Kim Moran posted to Facebook Tuesday saying she had “lost normal feeling in both of my feet and both of my hands” the day before.

“I fell asleep last night in tears, sobbing; literally crying out to God to take it all away,” she wrote. “As I lay alone in an apartment in West Africa, I was gripped by fear; ‘Is this is beginning of disability for me? What does this mean for me as a new parent? How am I supposed to get medical care if I can’t get back to Canada?’”

Kim and her husband, Clark, recently adopted a young boy named Ayo from Nigeria. The couple travelled to Ghana on Aug. 1 to process the last bit of paperwork before they could bring him back to B.C.

Their file has been complete for weeks, but they’re still waiting for Canadian officials to approve it.

Clark left the West African country in September, not thinking he’d be away from his family for very long. Kim and Ayo have been in Ghana ever since.

When they first spoke to CTV News in October, Kim and Clark said they believed they filled out all the paperwork correctly and were told the last phase of the adoption process would take no more than a week.

In early November, Kim said she’s received a response from the office of Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen saying it “gives priority treatment to applications for adopted children,” but that the ministry could not give her a timeline for when she and Ayo would be allowed back to Canada.

Clark said he’d spoken with a federal immigration spokesperson who told him this is a fairly typical case and adoptions can take time because of the many of checks and balances involve.

The family’s story has made headlines and sparked outcry online. As of Thursday afternoon, a Change.org petition calling on the federal government to act had garnered more than 8,800 signatures.

Kim posted a photo of herself in a hospital bed Thursday, saying she’d been admitted for “testing, treatment and observation.”

“I’ll keep you posted, but in the meantime say a little prayer for me,” she wrote, adding that Ayo is staying with friends.

It’s still unclear when Kim and her son will be able to return to B.C.


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17Nov

Wheelchair ramp removed in favour of more parking spots?

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At a Surrey strip mall, fresh pain marks new 20-minute parking spots that have replaced an accessibility ramp.

Vivian Yu, who visits the strip mall on 100 Avenue and 152 Street every few weeks, sounded alarms after she noticed the ramp was gone.

“Ramps are for everybody, it’s not just for someone who uses a wheelchair. So it’s a bit disappointing that they don’t see that as an issue,”Yu said.

“I find it kind of frustrating and it just seems a bit backward from the social norm these days to try to make it inclusive and accommodating for everybody.”

She is now forced to enter at the far end of the parking lot behind dozens of cars, leaving her feeling unsafe.

“Generally when you are using a wheelchair, you’re pretty short and as a result, often you’re not eye level to the driver of any kind of vehicle, even the small sedans, so it’s a bit sketchy.”

Guilford Towngate Investment, the strip mall’s property manager, didn’t respond to requests for comments but has been talking with the city.

A city employee sent Yu an email explaining the property manager’s primary concern is “getting more parking spots in the facility.”

In a statement to CTV News, Nadia Chan, acting building division manager of planning and development, explained any removal of an accessibility ramp must be submitted to the division.

Chan did not say whether an application was submitted for the case but did say, “The ramp will not be allowed to be removed if accessibility requests have not been met.”

The city will now review the property to determine if it is in compliance with its permits and the B.C. building code.

With files from CTV Vancouver’s Breanna Karstens-Smith


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10Oct

Man carrying long gun forces lockdown at New West hospital

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Police are looking for a suspect who triggered a lockdown at a New Westminster hospital Tuesday after he was seen carrying a long gun.

Officers were first dispatched to the area of Royal Columbian Hospital at around 10:20 p.m. after they received reports from the nearby Sapperton Station about a man with a rifle. Investigators say they also received information that the man was trying to sell the firearm.

In a statement released Wednesday, the New Westminster Police Department confirmed the suspect had entered the hospital near the underground parking garage.

The incident prompted a large police response which included Transit Police and Mounties from Coquitlam and Surrey.

Royal Columbian was placed on lockdown and authorities set up a containment area around the scene.

“An extensive search of the hospital and surrounding parking garages was conducted to ensure the safety of staff and patients, however the male was not located,” the release read. “CCTV footage has been obtained for closer analysis.”

Now, police are asking anyone with information that could help them locate the man to come forward.

“Our investigation into this incident continues,” Sgt. Jeff Scott said. “It’s with good reason that the safe transportation of firearms is a matter we take very seriously.”

Investigators working on the case can be reached at 604-525-5411.


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8Oct

Woman says she was followed, asked for money before alleged bus assault

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A woman who says she was attacked on a transit bus in Vancouver says she’d been followed and asked for money before the violent outburst which was partially caught on camera.

The woman, who did not want to be publicly identified, said she got on the bus shortly before 2 a.m. Thursday on Granville Street near Davie.

She said a man had asked her for money, then appeared to be following her before she boarded. She said she told the bus driver she felt unsafe as she got on.

The man then boarded the bus without paying, and eventually accosted her, she told CTV News.

The woman pulled out her phone and recorded part of the incident, in which a man can be seen stumbling and asking the woman for money.

She’s heard telling him she has nothing for him. He then swears at her and gets off the bus, slamming his hand against the window where the woman was sitting once outside.

He is then seen running back onto the bus and yelling obscenities at her.

“You’re going to jail,” she tells him.

Police say the man tried to grab her phone and she was assaulted. She was not physically harmed, and the suspect left the scene before investigators arrived.

Other transit users told CTV there are times they’ve felt unsafe as well.

“Nighttime transit makes me feel a little questionable about my safety just because there’s a lot of people who are rather in a state unable to drive or just looking for a place to be,” one person said.

Another said they’ve purposely sat near the driver or moved seats during incidents on the bus.

In this case, police say they’re reviewing security camera footage as part of their investigation.

With a report from CTV Vancouver’s Maria Weisgarber


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