Last Updated Thursday, October 3, 2019 11:57AM EDT
Three teenagers facing charges in a sexual assault scandal at St. Michael’s College School last year have pleaded guilty.
The teens pleaded guilty to sexual assault with a weapon and assault with a weapon on Thursday morning inside a Toronto courtroom.
One of the three teenagers also pleaded guilty to distributing child pornography.
In November of last year, six boys were charged in connection with the alleged sex assault of a student at the all-boys private school.
According to police, videos of the incident, which occurred inside a washroom at the school, began circulating between students and on social media.
A few months later, police said they were investigating two additional incidents. Eight students were expelled from school as a result and a seventh student was formally charged by police.
The students were each facing charges of sexual assault, gang sexual assault and sexual assault with a weapon.
Charges against one of the seven students were withdrawn in August and the cases against two others have concluded, although Ontario’s Ministry of the Attorney General would not say at the time what the outcomes were of those cases.
The last student facing charges has a court hearing scheduled for Oct. 17.
The teenagers who pleaded guilty on Thursday are scheduled to attend a sentencing hearing on Nov. 14.
They cannot be identified under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
Vulnerable homeowners in areas threatened by wildfire can access free FireSmart advice and support from a government-funded job creation project supported by the United Way.
Sixteen people will work over the summer to help seniors and persons with disabilities become FireSmart by preparing and protecting their homes from the threat of wildfires in the communities of Ashcroft, Cache Creek, 100 Mile House, Williams Lake, Clinton and Quesnel. This includes educating people about how to make their homes and property safer and removing vegetation that can fuel a wildfire.
To promote safety for people and communities, homeowners will also receive fire prevention materials and a resource list for assistance and support. The project, originally scheduled to end in April 2019, has been extended by four months to meet community need and to provide more job seekers with more opportunities.
“Connecting people with new skills and opportunities is part of our government’s focus on creating good jobs,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “Community-driven projects like this one benefit participants, communities and the labour market, while creating a safer environment.”
The project provides extensive training in the formal FireSmart assessment process. The Thompson Nicola Cariboo United Way offers this service for free so people in wildfire-prone parts of the province have help protecting their home from potential fire threats. The crews also remove possible dangers, known as fire fuels, such as bushes, small trees or other organic matter, and provide information on how homeowners can further protect their property.
“There is a high demand for skilled workers to provide advice, support and labour in helping prevent the devastating loss of homes during the wildfire season,” said Jennifer Rice, Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness. “Training local people in fire mitigation will help meet the need for skilled workers in this and related fields.”
The Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction provided $729,498 through the Jobs Creation Program stream of the Community and Employer Partnerships (CEP) program. CEP funds projects that increase employability levels and share labour market information.
“In being able to provide FireSmart activities at no charge to vulnerable people in communities impacted by wildfires, those homeowners feel better prepared and less stressed,” said Monica Johnson, fire mitigation project manager, United Way Thompson Nicola Cariboo. “The training and experience we provide to the participants are relevant and definitely increases their employability. We’ve had several participants exit the program because they’ve gotten jobs.”
Clayton Flanders, participant, 100 Mile House Fire Mitigation Job Creation Program –
“This program brings quality changes to both your personal and your professional lives. Not only does it provide important courses needed by future employers, what you learn in the fire mitigation training provides greater safety not only for your own home and neighbourhood but your local community. Thank you for the opportunity to make a big difference not only in my life, but for the others who now feel safer in their own homes.”
Ken Wiebe, homeowner, 108 Mile House –
“We were evacuated 15 days in the 2017 fires. There are people out here who would be absolutely helpless if that happens again. The work is very necessary.”
Florence and Morris Gran, homeowners, Quesnel –
“We are two senior citizens who qualified for the fire mitigation program. Al and his crew of three came to our ranch yesterday and today. They cut limbs, cut junipers, raked and worked steadily. He did not just supervise but worked hard alongside the young men working with him. And we are so grateful. This program is a real asset for seniors.”
Approximately $15 million will be invested in CEP projects throughout B.C. in 2019-20.
Job Creation Partnerships are one of five Community Employer Partnership programs available throughout the province.
To date, since the start of the project in August 2018, 22 people have received training and work experience.
Project participants have completed 264 FireSmart assessments and 220 mitigations. The goal is to complete 100 more.
Abbotsford police are looking for a man in connection with an arson fire at a house in the 22-hundred block of Bedford Place Thursday morning at 3:15 a.m.
Fire investigators say a male suspect backed a mini-van onto the driveway of the home before dousing the vehicle with accelerant and setting it on fire. The flames spread to the garage attached to the home with five people inside.
Sgt. Judy Bird with the Abbotsford police says it’s unclear whether the suspect knew there were people inside sleeping at the time of the attack.
“We are in the preliminary stages of the investigation. We are also working with officers from Abbotsford Fire Rescue Service investigators to collect CCTV from the neighborhood, speak to witnesses, and be able to find out why the family appears to have been targeted and what possibly the motive is.”
All five victims were able to get out of the house in time but were treated for smoke inhalation.
Sgt. Bird says none are known to police.
“This family are truly victims”.
The suspect is described as wearing a hoodie, dark pants and dark shoes and was seen running from the driveway.
Police are asking anyone with information about the attack to contact the Abbotsford Police Department.
VANCOUVER — Inhaling smoke from a wildfire can be equal to smoking a couple of packs of cigarettes a day depending on its thickness, says a researcher studying wildfires in Western Canada.
Mike Flannigan, a professor with the Department of Renewable Resources at the University of Alberta, said the smoke is like a “chemical soup” that can be trapped in the lungs and cause a number of health issues.
“They are all kinds of particles, mercury, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, methane … there’s a whole long list.”
Depending on the size of the particles, they get trapped in the lungs, accumulate over time and cause “all kinds of problems,” Flannigan said.
“The more we are finding out about smoke and health, the more we are finding out it is bad for us, which isn’t a surprise but its worse than we thought.”
Sarah Henderson, a senior environmental health scientist at the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control, said the smaller the particles, the worse they are.
Both Flannigan and Henderson will make presentations at the BC Lung Association’s annual workshop on air quality and health on Wednesday.
Their presentation is timely after extreme wildfire seasons in British Columbia in 2017 and 2018. Smoke from forest fires last year reached Atlantic Canada and even as far away as Ireland.
Emissions vary depending on the differences in fuel, burning conditions and other environmental factors, Flannigan said.
The spread hinges on how high smoke and fire columns rise. Winds can carry the particles north to Europe and Asia, across the world and back again, Flannigan said.
“They can travel long distances for long periods of time.”
Henderson said most people living in polluted places face a risk of chronic diseases and slightly shorter life expectancy but that data comes from cities such as New Delhi, one of the most polluted cities in the world.
The air quality in British Columbia is “extremely good” except for a few weeks during wildfire season, she said.
“If we have a season like 2017 and 2018, year after year for the next 20 years, we probably will have a health impact on the population but we don’t know what that will be yet,” Henderson said.
People should protect themselves from the smoke by spending time indoors, using air filters and not exercising strenuously when outside, she said.
In 2017, the area burned in B.C. was 12,000 square kilometres, which was a record until last summer when 13,000 square kilometres of the province was consumed by fire. The B.C. government declared a state of emergency for both seasons.
The intensity of wildfires, as shown through remote sensing, is also increasing, Flannigan said, noting that as fuels get drier it is easier for fires to start and spread.
And the wildfire season is also starting much sooner, he said.
In Alberta the wildfire season used to begin April 1 but it’s now starting March 1 and is lasting longer.
“In Canada our area burned has doubled since the 1970s. And my colleagues and I attribute this to — I can’t be any clearer — human-caused climate change,” he said. “Our climate is changing and this has affected fire activity in Canada, western United States and other parts of the world.”
The last two years saw over four per cent of forested area burn in B.C. and the province is nowhere close to exhausting how much can burn, Flannigan said.
Historically, he said, it would have been unlikely that the province would have seen a third bad fire season.
“But its entirely possible,” he said.
Climate change is making the jet stream weaker, which is causing hot, dry summer days, which are conducive to fire activity, he said.
“Will things get worse? Absolutely. Not every year. Some years will be cooler, some years will be wetter,” Flannigan said.
“On an average we’re going to see a lot more fire, and they’re going to be longer fire seasons, more intense, and the primary reason why climate change influences fire activity is that the warmer it gets the more fire we see.”
Attorney General David Eby looks on as Jane Dyson, executive director of Disability Alliance BC, speaks about the changes coming to the Insurance Corporation of B.C. during a press conference in the press gallery at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Tuesday February 6, 2018. CHAD HIPOLITO / THE CANADIAN PRESS
Recently, David Eby, the Attorney General of B.C., took a shot at B.C. personal injury lawyers.
His letter is full of misleading information designed to induce the public to blame lawyers for ICBC’s woes and to garner public support for the “minor-injury” cap. It’s simple enough to do as we all know lawyers are easy targets (although politicians are not far behind). No one likes lawyers — until they need one, that is.
For example, Eby took a shot at lawyer advertisements, specifically Preszler Law, as the top advertising firm in B.C. In fact, Preszler Law is an Ontario firm that very recently set up shop in B.C. The reality is that I, and many of my colleagues, don’t advertise at all. It is a tiny percentage of the personal injury bar that comprises this advertising.
Second, he states that the ICBC system has been “uniquely generous” to lawyers. Really? Because I live in a basement suite in Vancouver and can’t imagine affording to buy a home in the city I’ve lived in the majority of my life.
Eby speaks of how his own father’s law practice was almost put out of business and how his mother had to return to work earlier than planned. Unlike the Eby family, I don’t have a spouse to lean on.
My clients come to me because they are not being treated fairly by ICBC. Eby states that almost every accident claim dispute in B.C. goes to B.C. Supreme Court. In reality, almost every accident claim in B.C. is resolved without a trial. The only reason that claims are started in B.C. Supreme Court is because there is a two-year limitation date in which one must file or lose their claim. If ICBC treated people fairly in the first two years, people wouldn’t need lawyers to seek justice for them in the courts. Eby certainly has a way of spinning “alternative facts.”
Eby blames lawyers like myself for spending thousands of dollars on expert reports. In fact, I can give many examples of where I have not got any reports, but ICBC has scheduled multiple examinations of my client, leaving me in the position of having no choice but to get my own reports.
Eby stated, “Nobody knows better than these lawyers do about what is happening.”
Yes, we do know what is happening. We see you. In spite of the dire financial situation at ICBC, there have been no structural or leadership changes at the Crown corporation. ICBC is a so-called “dumpster fire” but the executives receive hefty bonuses.
Rather than cutting the pay/vacations of union ICBC staff or stopping ICBC executive bonuses or cutting the $400 million a year commissions paid to ICBC salespeople, the NDP are taking it out of innocent victims’ injury compensation and blaming lawyers for ICBC’s woes.
The government argued early on that introducing minor-injury caps was the only option available to them to avoid passing on significant rate hikes to British Columbians — and yet here we are with significant rate hikes on the horizon.
There is no doubt that innocent accident victims are the ones who will pay the price for bad drivers in light of the changes to ICBC. I understand that people don’t think it will happen to them, but if and when they are injured through the negligence of a bad driver, and they are unfairly treated by ICBC, as countless numbers of my clients are, they will see the truth of who the real villain is, and … spoiler alert! … it’s not the lawyers.
Rita Sidhu is a Vancouver lawyer specializing in criminal, family and personal injury law.
Letters to the editor should be sent to email@example.com. The editorial pages editor is Gordon Clark, who can be reached at [email protected].
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.
Published Thursday, September 20, 2018 11:19AM PDT
Last Updated Thursday, September 20, 2018 12:38PM PDT
Just a day after homeless occupants from a former tent city moved into Goldstream Provincial Park, they and other campers have been told to leave.
West Shore RCMP arrived at the park Wednesday night briefly blocking access and telling campers it would be closed indefinitely after 11 a.m. Thursday.
Reports then surfaced that campers would be granted an additional 24 hours to pack up and move out of the camp whlie the government collected further information.
The park shutdown applies to all campers, not just the 25 or so tent city residents who moved in Wednesday night.
Those homeless campers said they were under the impression they’d be able to stay at the park for two weeks after they were evicted from two Saanich parks in a week.
“I went and talked to park ranger and he said ‘Oh we’re trying to nip it in the bud, we don’t want to see what’ll happen in two weeks from now,'” said camper Morgan Van Humbeck.
Tent city organizer Chrissy Brett called on B.C.’s premier to discuss options with the group instead of evicting them.
“John Horgan if you’re watching this I would ask you to ask your ministers to come down and have a conversation and sit around the one table we have left, and tell people to their face that they have no right to exist here in British Columbia if you’re homeless,” said Brett.
But Langford Mayor Stew Young said problems like open drug use and theft moved in along with the campers, prompting the shutdown.
“This is not a place to have needle sharps and other activity around that neighbourhood especially,” Stew Young told CFAX 1070. “We’ve already, from yesterday, had two individual instances of males in the washroom shooting up in front of other families that are in there and camping, so those people have left.”
Mounties referred questions to BC Parks, saying they were assisting the organization by enforcing regulations of the Parks Act.
On Thursday, B.C.’s housing minister Selina Robinson issued a statement saying that the campground was closed to ensure public safety after concerns were expressed by RCMP.
“The park is not an appropriate place for the establishment of a tent city. We urge those at Goldstream to work with staff to identify better housing solutions,” Robinson said.
She said the province’s goal is to get people into shelters and longer-term housing, but a CTV News report Wednesday found that all shelters in the Capital Region were full. Robinson pointed to 25 new shelter beds opening at the Victoria Native Friendship Centre Oct. 1.
She also noted that in the Capital Region, only the City of Victoria had identified a site for modular units of supportive housing that the government has committed to build.
That changed Thursday, when the District of Saanich announced it had identified a site near Saanich city hall for modular units to be built.
The section of land is north of the Saanich Fire Hall on Vernon Avenue.
“We’re hopeful that by providing this land, we’re moving in the right direction to secure housing and satisfy some of the need for housing in the region,” said Chief Administrative Officer Paul Thorkelsson.
The district said it will make another announcement soon once further details of the project are confirmed.
We’ve offered access to land at the Municipal Hall campus to BC Housing to provide modular supportive housing units for people experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness. #saanich#bcpolihttps://t.co/17BhrPKFx6
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