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Posts Tagged "CTV Vancouver"

11Jun

City council expected to debate policy preventing legal weed sales in DTES

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The debate on a motion proposing easier access for opioid alternatives in the city’s Downtown Eastside is expected to begin again Wednesday, when Vancouver city council meets to discuss policy and strategic priorities.

Submitted by Coun. Rebecca Bligh in late May, the motion titled “Cannabis as an Alternative to Opiates and More Dangerous Drugs on the Downtown Eastside” proposes amending an almost four-year-old exclusion zone keeping medical marijuana from being sold to one of the city’s most vulnerable communities.

“What I’m asking is well-considered exceptions to that rule, and that city staff come back and make recommendations to council,” Bligh told CTV News Vancouver in an interview Tuesday.

Vancouver’s city council approved a restrictive licensing regulation for “medical-cannabis” dispensaries in the Downtown Eastside in 2015, prohibiting marijuana sales on any properties that do not have a property line on either Hastings or Main streets.

In her motion, Bligh suggests the idea behind this exclusion zone was to limit the amount of cannabis being sold to a significantly vulnerable subset of the population. This decision was made before the opioid crisis set in however, and since April 2016, the councillor says more than 3,600 people have died in B.C. due to overdose, including 1,000 people in Vancouver alone.

“I don’t propose this is the right time to simply dismiss the exclusionary zoning, even though studies show in North America exclusionary zoning … it’s just not the best way to go about city planning,” said Bligh.

The councillor cites a study by University of British Columbia cannabis science specialist Dr. M-J Milloy, which showed hard drug users respond better to marijuana than opioid substitution treatment plans.

“We’re hearing form frontline workers and they’re dealing day to day with what’s happening in the Downtown Eastside, and I’ve heard from countless people that this is absolutely something we need to be taking proactive action on,” she said.

As it stands, there are four locations in the DTES with approved Development Permits from the city. Bligh contends, however, that in order to move forward with the mandatory provincial licensing application phase, they would need to shut down with no guarantee they’d be able to re-open. 

The councillor says the city should acknowledge the research done and funded by UBC and Simon Fraser University to ensure policies aren’t restricting a “progressive program” that could help people in the Downtown Eastside.

Referring to Milloy’s research, Bligh says shutting down those shops in the Downtown Eastside would limit people’s ability to access affordable legal marijuana, which could result in them turning back to opioids.

She adds that before the legalization process took hold,  a medicinal cannabis shop was able to sell at prices between three and six dollars per gram, which she says is affordable for people on disability or social assistance programs.

“As the recreational use of cannabis and the licensing that goes with that comes into effect, so does management of the supply chain, and management of the margins,” said Bligh. “Now we’re looking at these shops opening up and their market value for cannabis is now $12-15 per gram, which is totally unaffordable for people on limited income.”

This could effectively rob DTES residents and drug users of access to retail cannabis for the foreseeable future, the councillor claims.

The motion argues that both the Vancouver Overdose Prevention Society and High Hopes Social Enterprise, a DTES support and sustainability organization, support low-cost, legal cannabis options backed by Dr. Evan Wood, the executive director of the BC Centre on Substance Use, as well as Dr. Mark Tyndall, Executive Medical Director for BC Centre for Disease Control, and Dr. M-J Milloy.

Bligh said she believes the city and Vancouver Coastal Health have an opportunity to good for a large group of people working together, however admitted it could be difficult for the health organization to endorse a motion that affects a smaller, yet high-need group of the population.

“Evidence is leaning towards this as a viable recommendaiton and option towards harm reduction, but this would be far too soon for Coastal Health to eb able to bless that, and we deeply respect the work they do,” the councillor said.


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10Jun

Too many fake service dogs, with fake licences: B.C. charity

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Jon Woodward, CTV News Vancouver


Published Monday, June 10, 2019 6:38PM PDT


Last Updated Monday, June 10, 2019 6:55PM PDT

Too many incidents of “emotional support dogs” looking like trained service dogs but behaving badly – sometimes even going on the attack – has a B.C. charity issuing a public warning.

The untrained dogs can be a menace and can also give the service dogs that help people with disabilities a bad name, making it harder for their owners to be welcomed in shops and public services, says Laura Watamanuk, the executive director of Pacific Assistance Dogs (PADS_.

It’s so easy to get a vest for a dog that says “service dog” online – even plastic ID that looks comparable to the B.C. government certification – it can be hard to tell the difference between a dog and a glorified pet, she said.

“It is really disheartening when someone goes online and purchases a cape and an ID to get easy access for a personal pet,” said Watamanuk.

“It’s a danger for our clients. We’ve had too many incidents where someone’s dog has attacked our dogs. For someone who is sight impaired, to have an untrained dog in public that jeopardizes their personal safety – it’s unacceptable,” she said.

In May, a man on a flight from Atlanta sued Delta Airlines when he said he was mauled in the face by an “emotional support” chocolate labrador-pointer mix. And in February, the mother of a five-year-old girl who had been bitten in the face by an “emotional support” pit bill in the Portland Airport sued as well.

In 2016, the B.C. government passed a law that required service dogs to pass a test before they could identify themselves as service dogs and be treated like them in public spaces like transit or restaurants.

The dogs are given a card that looks like a B.C. drivers licence that they can present if questioned. Failure to register can result in fines.

The B.C. government has received two complaints a year about false representation of dogs. It couldn’t provide CTV News with any information about how many dogs had been licensed under those rules.

Online retailers appear to be ignoring the rules completely. Amazon.ca sells vests and ID kits that would allow a dog owner to outfit their untrained pet to appear to be a service dog.

And ServiceDogCanada.com offers a kit that shows an ID and purports to help a dog owner train their dog to a standard.

Paul Bowskill, who operates the website, told CTV News Vancouver from Hawaii that he rejects the provincial government’s definition of a service dog. He used the example of a dog that recognizes lower blood sugar in a diabetic – but might not be able to pass all of the B.C. government tests.

“The piece of paper has nothing to do with making a service dog a dog,” he said. “It’s a person’s disability and the help of the dog that qualifies it as a service dog.”

The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal has ruled against a woman who claimed her son’s pit bull was a service dog and removing it from a strata would compound her son’s disability.

The woman lost her case, but the tribunal was willing to consider the argument that someone with a disability may deserve to keep a pet even if that pet isn’t a certified service dog.

There’s also a supply issue: PADS says it trains about 30 dogs a year, but has heard expressions of interest from over 200 people.

But Watamanuk says it’s worth the wait, pointing to Gucci, a service dog on her way to a deserving owner.

“We ensure they’re not going to be a nuisance in the public. They’re well-behaved. Well-mannered. They’re seen and not heard. We want dogs that are bombproof in the community,” she said.


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5Jun

Advocates call for change after $2.9 million surplus revealed for BC Hydro fund

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BC Hydro is sitting on a surplus of about $2.9 million in its customer crisis fund, leading to calls for the utility to reduce its take from the average customer or provide more money to those in need.

B.C. Liberal Energy Critic Greg Kyllo said if the imbalance continues in the year-old pilot program, it’s time to cut the monthly 25 cent fee in half.

“If the grant requirement or the need in the province is going to remain where it is, they should look at rolling back the contribution level in the fund,” he told CTV News Vancouver from Salmon Arm.

But social agencies who were part of the consultation around the fund in the beginning said it’s more likely that people in need don’t know about the fund and more time is necessary to get the word out.

“If they collect the money, then the program’s got to change to make sure more people are able to be helped,” said Gudrun Langolf of the Council of Senior Citizens Organizations of BC.

The customer crisis fund was started in spring 2018 to give people short-term relief when they can’t pay their electricity bills. Customers can apply to get a grant of up to $500 to keep the lights on, and up to $600 if electricity heats their homes.

The public utility took in about 25 cents per customer per month which added up to a revenue of $4.5 million in the year since the program started, BC Hydro confirmed to CTV News.

But the agency only gave out 2,250 grants totalling $850,000.

Administration costs added up around $750,000 – leaving the $2.9 million remaining.

The news will come as a welcome relief to those who suddenly struggle to pay their hydro bills.

Some people who come into Disability Alliance B.C. are often anxious and emotional when they’re suddenly unable to pay their bills, said Shar Saremi, an advocate there.

“I’ve had people crying. I’ve had people who have experienced a loss in the family,” she said. “A lot of the time people are stressed out, anxious, really upset. They are looking for assistance, and they aren’t sure what is available for them.”

She said people are only eligible if their bills are under $1,000, which could be cutting out the people who are most in need. And because the program is in its first year, it could be undersubscribed, she said.

“A lot of people don’t know about the program, don’t know how to apply, or what kind of assistance is out there,” Saremi said.

The fund was established thanks to an order from the B.C. Utilities Commission, the utilities regulator in the province.

The pilot program is going to be examined by the regulator at the end of its first year.

“Any remaining balance in the account at the end of the pilot would be returned to residential ratepayers,” says a BCUC fact sheet. The decision on exactly what to do with the money hasn’t yet been made.

In Manitoba, a similar program is by donation. That program raised about $200,000 from customers and $60,000 in other income. It spent $199,000 on grants to applicants, but lost about $20,000 a year.

In Ontario, private utilities are expected to raise 0.12 per cent of their revenue. Across the province, those utilities gave out about $7.3 million in grants. Any unused funds in one year are rolled over to the following year.


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4Jun

‘This shouldn’t be happening’: Coquitlam cab ride ends with customer calling RCMP

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A Coquitlam woman with a disability said she recently had to call the RCMP after a cab ride that had her questioning her safety.

Gayle Hunter said she booked a Bel-Air Taxi online on May 24, for a ride to work at a school not far away.

“I have problems with my legs some days and I wasn’t feeling up to walking,” Hunter told CTV News Vancouver.

She said during the ride, the driver informed her he hadn’t turned the meter on.

“I wanted to kind of inform him if you don’t have that on, your customer doesn’t have to pay, so you know, something you should be aware of,” Hunter said.

She said the driver then started yelling and driving away from her route.

“I said where are you going? Like, where are you taking me? And he’s like, I don’t have to take you there, I can take you anywhere,” Hunter said.

Hunter said she insisted the driver turn around, and called the cab company. When they eventually arrived at the school, she said the driver grabbed the cash fare she had in her hand.

“My hand flies back, he’s got the bill, the change goes flying, and I yell, because it hurt,” Hunter said.

Hunter said she called the RCMP and contacted the city’s mayor, Richard Stewart, who posted about her complaint online. Stewart said it’s an example of why people need more options, such as ride-hailing.

“It is outrageous that a disabled person could be actually held in a cab,” Stewart told CTV News Vancouver.

“It scares me for other residents who might not have had the wherewithal she had,” Stewart said.

Bel-Air Taxi manager Shawn Bowden does not agree the driver deviated from the route.

He says their GPS records show the cab made a series of right hand turns to get to the school.

“It wasn’t taken on a wild goose chase or something like that, no. But maybe she just didn’t understand that,” Bowden said.

However, Bowden said the meter should have been on.

“I apologize for the service. And I have talked to the customer, and I have apologized, it shouldn’t have happened,” Bowden said.

Hunter said she has taken cabs since then, but the experience has made her more cautious.

“This shouldn’t be happening,” Hunter said.

The RCMP said charges are not being pursued in the case.


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4Jun

‘This shouldn’t be happening’: Port Coquitlam cab ride ends with customer calling RCMP

by admin

A Port Coquitlam woman with a disability said she recently had to call the RCMP after a cab ride that had her questioning her safety.

Gayle Hunter said she booked a Bel-Air Taxi online on May 24, for a ride to work at a school not far away.

“I have problems with my legs some days and I wasn’t feeling up to walking,” Hunter told CTV News Vancouver.

She said during the ride, the driver informed her he hadn’t turned the meter on.

“I wanted to kind of inform him if you don’t have that on, your customer doesn’t have to pay, so you know, something you should be aware of,” Hunter said.

She said the driver then started yelling and driving away from her route.

“I said where are you going? Like, where are you taking me? And he’s like, I don’t have to take you there, I can take you anywhere,” Hunter said.

Hunter said she insisted the driver turn around, and called the cab company. When they eventually arrived at the school, she said the driver grabbed the cash fare she had in her hand.

“My hand flies back, he’s got the bill, the change goes flying, and I yell, because it hurt,” Hunter said.

Hunter said she called the RCMP and contacted Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart, who posted about her complaint online. Stewart said it’s an example of why people need more options, such as ride-hailing.

“It is outrageous that a disabled person could be actually held in a cab,” Stewart told CTV News Vancouver.

“It scares me for other residents who might not have had the wherewithal she had,” Stewart said.

Bel-Air Taxi manager Shawn Bowden does not agree the driver deviated from the route.

He says their GPS records show the cab made a series of right hand turns to get to the school.

“It wasn’t taken on a wild goose chase or something like that, no. But maybe she just didn’t understand that,” Bowden said.

However, Bowden said the meter should have been on.

“I apologize for the service. And I have talked to the customer, and I have apologized, it shouldn’t have happened,” Bowden said.

Hunter said she has taken cabs since then, but the experience has made her more cautious.

“This shouldn’t be happening,” Hunter said.

The RCMP said charges are not being pursued in the case.


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28May

Rick Hansen gives Surrey a gold for their accessibility commitment

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Rick Hansen was on hand at Grandview Heights Aquatic Centre this morning to recognize and congratulate Surrey on its excellence in becoming more accessible.

Hansen, who wheeled 40,000 km for his “Man In Motion Tour” unveiled a plaque on behalf of the Rick Hansen Foundation declaring the facility gold accessibility.

“Disability is a big deal”, says Hansen.

He says there are over a billion people living with a disability, according to the World Health Organization.

In Canada over 20 per cent of the population, including aging baby boomers and their parents, are acquiring many disabling conditions and the issue is just getting bigger.

“I’m a big fan of getting our city up so it’s completely accessible,” said Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum.

Hansen and the mayor took a tour of the facility to check its upgrades, such as lifts to lower people into the pool, ramps and removable portable stairs into the pool.

There are also work out machines that are wheel chair accessible and a quiet room for people who suffer from sensory issues to go and decompress.


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26May

More than 500 join annual MS walk in Vancouver

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More than 500 people took to the streets around Concord Pacific Place Sunday morning for the annual Multiple Sclerosis Walk to raise awareness of MS.

Participants took part in a 2- or 5-kilometre walk along False Creek in hope of raising $200,000 for MS research.

“This walk is critically important,” said Tania Vrionis of the MS Society of Canada. “Not only does it really provide that groundswell support, it really brings the community together for people living with MS to show them support; to show them they’re not alone in the fight to end MS.”

UBC MS Clinic director Tony Traboulsee said that the most common first sign of MS is loss of vision in one eye that usually last over 24 hours.

“We haven’t cured MS yet, but we’re getting closer and closer with more effective treatments.” Traboulsee told CTV News. “Now, when someone is newly diagnosed and we start early treatment, we can really predict a much better long term outcome. They’re less likely to develop disability and [more likely to] maintain their job and relationships. It’s much more optimistic today than it was 10, 20 years ago.”

The MS Walk also took place in 17 communities across British Columbia on Sunday. 


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21May

WorkSafeBC imposes new guidelines to prevent hearing loss among service industry workers

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Meagan Gill, CTV News Vancouver


Published Tuesday, May 21, 2019 1:16PM PDT


Last Updated Tuesday, May 21, 2019 1:21PM PDT

WorkSafeBC has released a new safety bulletin with noise control regulations for workers in the service industry.

The safety organization says many people working as servers and bartenders are reluctant to use hearing protection devices because they believe it will make it difficult to communicate with customers. 

“Studies show that when noise levels reach 90 decibels or higher, hearing protection actually improves your ability to hear speech,” said Dan Strand, WorkSafe BC’s director of prevention services. “We need to change how we think about hearing protection in the service industry.”

Repeated exposure to noise levels above 85 decibels can cause permanent hearing loss in unprotected people. But studies by WorkSafeBC show that many pubs and nightclubs in B.C. exceed that level during a regular shift.

If noise exceeds the 85 decibel limit within an eight-hour shift, employers are now required by regulation to have a noise control and hearing conservation program.

Between 2008 and 2017, WorkSafeBC accepted 3,343 disability claims for noise-induced hearing loss in the province.

“Noise is a serious and widespread problem in many workplaces, and this includes the service industry,” said Strand. “Our research has found that most service sector workers and employers are not aware of the risk of hearing loss in their industry.”

The new safety guidelines urge workers to find hearing protection tools that work best for them and to get annual hearing tests. In addition, WorkSafeBC is also providing employees in the service industry with several online resources to better raise awareness on noise-induced hearing loss.


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21May

Workers in noisy clubs should be wearing earplugs, WorkSafeBC says

by admin

Meagan Gill, CTV News Vancouver


Published Tuesday, May 21, 2019 1:16PM PDT


Last Updated Tuesday, May 21, 2019 2:10PM PDT

WorkSafeBC has released a new safety bulletin with noise control regulations for workers in the service industry.

The safety organization says many people working as servers and bartenders are reluctant to use hearing protection devices because they believe it will make it difficult to communicate with customers. 

“Studies show that when noise levels reach 90 decibels or higher, hearing protection actually improves your ability to hear speech,” said Dan Strand, WorkSafe BC’s director of prevention services. “We need to change how we think about hearing protection in the service industry.”

Repeated exposure to noise levels above 85 decibels can cause permanent hearing loss in unprotected people. But studies by WorkSafeBC show that many pubs and nightclubs in B.C. exceed that level during a regular shift.

If noise exceeds the 85 decibel limit within an eight-hour shift, employers are required by regulation to have a noise control and hearing conservation program.

Between 2008 and 2017, WorkSafeBC accepted 3,343 disability claims for noise-induced hearing loss in the province.

“Noise is a serious and widespread problem in many workplaces, and this includes the service industry,” said Strand. “Our research has found that most service sector workers and employers are not aware of the risk of hearing loss in their industry.”

The safety guidelines urge workers to find hearing protection tools that work best for them and to get annual hearing tests. In addition, WorkSafeBC is also now providing employees in the service industry with several online resources to better raise awareness on noise-induced hearing loss.


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19May

Brazen bike theft caught on camera in Victoria

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CTV News Vancouver


Published Sunday, May 19, 2019 6:22PM PDT


Last Updated Sunday, May 19, 2019 6:44PM PDT

The staff of a Victoria bicycle shop posted some surprising security camera video on its Facebook page Friday afternoon.

In the video, a man can be seen apparently browsing the selection at Giant Bicycles Victoria. He waits for staff to leave the room, before casually grabbing a bike and walking out the front door.

A few seconds later, a store employee comes back into the picture and makes his way out the door as well. That employee – manager Dylan Phye – told CTV News he was able to get the stolen bike back.

“I ran up the street, grabbed the bike from him, exchanged a few choice words, and then came back,” Phye said.

The bike that almost got away was worth more than $1,100.

Giant Bicycles called Victoria police to report the incident. Police say the suspect also made off with stolen goods from a nearby Eddie Bauer store. He is facing charges.

Phye said the shop decided to post the security video to its Facebook page as a reminder to other local businesses.

“We did it to alert other businesses in Victoria,” he said. “It can happen to anybody and happen that quick, so you’ve always got to stay on the ball.”

Phye also hopes the video will serve as a deterrent to other would-be bike thieves.

“We do have great cameras, you know?” He said. “We are always alert, so don’t try anything with us because we will catch you or we will find you.”


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