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Posts Tagged "real"

11Mar

Consultants say 40% of Parks Canada real estate in poor condition

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About 40 per cent of Parks Canada’s buildings, forts, bridges and other items of real estate are unsafe or unusable, or require billions of dollars in major repairs, says a new report.

An analysis the agency commissioned from an independent consultant says Parks Canada has deferred up to $9.5 billion in badly needed work – and ought to spend up to $3.3 billion on top of that to cope with the threat of climate change.

Parks Canada’s current annual spending on repairs falls short, says the report, despite a $3-billion injection of cash that began in 2014 and is now about half-spent.

CBC News obtained the September 2018 document, produced by New Zealand-based Opus International Consultants, under the Access to Information Act.

Parks Canada paid the consultants about $1 million to review the condition of the agency’s 16,618 assets.

“When reviewed, 24 per cent of the asset[s] were assessed as being in good condition, 36 per cent in fair condition, and 40 per cent in poor or very poor condition,” says the report.

“Forty per cent is a significant percentage to be in poor/very poor condition, given the interconnected nature of the service that is provided by the PCA [Parks Canada Agency] assets.”

Verifies findings

The agency now reviews the state of its vast asset pool — 46 national parks, 171 historic sites and other buildings, various bridges — every five years, and asked Opus to verify the findings of its latest catalogue from 2017.

Parks Canada is replacing the bridge over the canal in St. Peter’s, in Cape Breton Island, which has been there since 1936. An internal report says many of the agency’s marine assets are in bad shape. (Parks Canada)

In ordering the Opus work, Parks Canada acknowledged that “under-investment has been a chronic issue impeding the sound management and consistent life cycle management of the portfolio.”

Opus directly inspected a sample of 252 assets in 15 locations and examined other data to produce an independent review, including a projection three decades into the future.

[We are] addressing deferred work on Parks Canada’s assets across the country and considerable progress is being made.– Agency spokesperson Dominique Tessier

The company’s engineers determined Parks Canada had low-balled the replacement value of the assets. Opus says the portfolio is worth $24.1 billion — a figure one-third higher than the $18 billion estimated by the agency’s own staff.

The report says that at current low rates of repair, the average condition of the portfolio will decline further over the next 33 years, as more assets fall into poor or very poor condition.

The consultants also noted that the portfolio is not welcoming enough for disabled visitors and estimate that Parks Canada needs to spend $428 million on making its parks and facilities more accessible.

They also say climate change will batter Parks Canada assets with heavy rain and flooding, forest fires and salt water damage. The consultants say protecting parks assets from climate damage will cost between $1.66 billion and $3.3 billion, though they caution the figures are only an “initial indication.”

Finally, Opus notes Parks Canada has budgeted $140 million annually to maintain its assets, in addition to special cash injections coming largely from a non-agency budget that have added up to more than $3 billion between 2014 and 2017.

The consultants estimate the agency needs to spend between $825 million and $900 million each year to maintain the average state of the portfolio, aside from any accessibility and climate change-related cash infusions.

Developing plan

A spokesperson for the agency, Dominique Tessier, said Parks Canada has spent only about 48 per cent of the $2.6 billion it was promised from the federal infrastructure investment program.

The Garrison Graveyard at Fort Anne in Annapolis Royal, N.S. A consultant estimates Parks Canada has deferred some $9.5 billion in needed repairs to its assets across the country. (Parks Canada/The Canadian Press)

The program is “addressing deferred work on Parks Canada’s assets across the country and considerable progress is being made,” she said. “The work completed through the federal infrastructure program will restore and improve the condition of Parks Canada’s assets.”

Tessier said the agency is also developing a long-term plan “to ensure the effective management and ongoing sustainability of its infrastructure portfolio.”

In the meantime, on Jan. 1, 2020, Parks Canada is introducing admission fees at five sites that were previously free of charge, and is increasing fees by a 2.2 per cent adjustment for inflation at 19 other sites — all to ensure visitors pay a fair price that doesn’t undercut private operators.

Tessier said the new revenues will be “re-invested in the same places where they are collected to support visitor programs, services and facilities.”

The places being hit with new admission fees are: Grasslands National Park in Saskatchewan ($5.80); Bruce Peninsula National Park, Ont. ($7.80); Georges Island National Historic Site, Nova Scotia ($7.80); S.S. Keno National Historic Site, Yukon ($3.90); and S.S. Klondike National Historic Site ($3.90).

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22Nov

REAL SCOOP: Hells Angel terrified before shootout

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Hells Angel Chad Wilson got nervous when he noticed the ball cap of “a big burly dude” entering the convenience store where he was looking at souvenir fridge magnets.

The hat said “F — k the other team” and he knew right away that the man was from the rival Outlaw motorcycle gang.

The message on the hat was “directed towards us,” Wilson would later testify at his trial for attempted murder. “It’s about the Hells Angels.”

Wilson, who was found murdered in Maple Ridge on Sunday, and his biker buddy John Midmore were in South Dakota for the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in August 2006 when they decided to take a drive around the area in Wilson’s pickup.

They stopped at Legion Lake Resort in Custer State Park because Midmore was hungry.

Wilson later testified that when he saw the Outlaws there, “I nearly shit my pants.”

Postmedia News has obtained transcripts of Wilson’s 2008 testimony at the trial, after which a jury acquitted him and Midmore — both Canadians — of attempted murder.

But Wilson later pleaded guilty to being an alien in illegal possession of a firearm and was sentenced to four years in prison.

The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team has said it is looking into Wilson’s past for a possible motive for his slaying.

Evidence from his U.S. trial lays out the deep hatred between the two biker gangs.

Wilson testified that after seeing the Outlaws, he wanted to get out of the store and leave the park as soon as possible.

He turned his head away from them as he walked past, hoping they wouldn’t notice his Hells Angels death head tattoo which was “plain as day, like a billboard for the Hells Angels.”

He hopped into the passenger side of his white Ford F350 and took a bite out of an ice cream sandwich Midmore had bought him before heading off to use the washroom.

“I was just sitting there waiting for John to come out of the restroom,” Wilson testified.

“Right out of the side of the trees, here comes Outlaws. And at the time, it looks like they are walking towards the front of the truck and I freaked out.

“The first thing I did was grabbed my gun and put it in my waistband.”

Midmore showed up and they tried to get out of the parking lot, but the road was busy and they had to wait for a break in the traffic.


Chad Wilson is transferred to court, Oct. 17, 2008, in Sioux Falls, S.D. He and John Midmore are Hells Angels bikers charged with a 2006 gunfight with rival Outlaws. Lawyers on Monday No. 3, 2008 have started questioning possible jurors in the trial of two men.

CARSON WALKER /

The Associated Press

The rival Outlaws came up to them, he said. One of them who was later identified as Nathan Frasier was in front of the truck.

“As soon as the truck pulled ahead, he looked like a deer in the headlights and he reached and dropped the gun from his waistband. All I did was lift up my shirt so they could see the gun. And go whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa.”

Wilson got out of the truck as he saw Frasier pick up his gun.

“All hell broke lose,” he testified. “There was a flash of light and then sound and I just bent down. I racked my gun and as I came up to start shooting, I was shooting back at him.”

He managed to get back in the truck where Midmore was ducking down and attempting to steer.

“So I grabbed the wheel, put my foot on top of his, hit the gas and off we went,” Wilson said. “That’s what really happened that day.”

He admitted to bringing both rifles and handguns to the biker party, storing some in a secret compartment in his truck so “I could get some guys together and we could go out shooting.”

Slain angel Chad Wilson, right, with his fellow Hardside member Jamie Yochlowitz. PNG

After the shootout, Wilson’s truck was found abandoned on a logging road with a .40 calibre gun magazine, three .40 calibre semi-automatic pistols and ammunition inside.

Five people on the Outlaws side were wounded, including Danny Neace, who was paralyzed from the waist down.

Neace and several other Outlaws were later convicted of plotting to fight other Hells Angels in Michigan a few days before the Custer park shootout.

Wilson testified that when he saw the Outlaws that day, “I was terrified.”

“There were nine of them and two of us,” he said. “Like being in the Hells Angels, you are always aware of the Outlaw issue. It’s a huge issue in our club.”

The Outlaws advertise on their Canadian website that they’ve opened a “prospective chapter” in B.C. But police don’t consider that the HA rivals have any real membership or influence in this province.

In Alberta, however, the Outlaws now have two chapters and there have been skirmishes between the two gangs.

Neither the Outlaws nor the Hells Angels responded to emailed requests for comment.

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blog: vancouversun.com/tag/real-scoop

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13Nov

Trish Garner: The real issue isn’t Mable Elmore but how we value different people

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Parliamentary Secretary and co-chair Mable Elmore discusses details about members of an advisory forum on poverty reduction as Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction Shane Simpson looks on during a press conference from the Rose Garden at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, October 30, 2017.


CHAD HIPOLITO / THE CANADIAN PRESS

MLA Mable Elmore has been blasted in the media recently for claiming reimbursements for food while she was taking the Welfare Food Challenge in November last year, trying to survive on $19 for the whole week.

A mistake by her and her staff has garnered far more attention than the fact that the Welfare Food Challenge is not able to run this year because the amount left over for food is only $6 per week. Once rent is subtracted from the deeply inadequate rate of $710 per month, only $23 remains to cover all other basic needs. This is using the average rent of $687 for an SRO in the Downtown Eastside.

The B.C. Liberal party released a copy of Elmore’s expense report last week and highlighted expense claims during the week of the challenge of meal per diem payments of $61 a day.

Perhaps the Liberals wanted to highlight the hypocrisy of the situation. The real hypocrisy is that the welfare rates were frozen at $610 per month for 10 years and have only been increased by $100 in the last year. That is less than half of the official Canadian poverty line, a measure that calculates what is actually needed to live.

And the real issue is what this reveals about how we value different people.

For food alone, MLAs are allowed to apply for reimbursement of $1,220 per month, if we consider four full 5-day weeks of work at the Legislature. Their housing allowance on top of that is at a minimum $1,000 per month for a total of $2,220.

So the amount the government provides an MLA for food and housing is over three times the amount the government provides for those in desperate need on welfare. They seem to value themselves far more than they value those on welfare in the deepest poverty.

And, for the most part, we stand by watching while people are devalued and dehumanized through a government system that should be part of a strong social safety net ready to support us when we need it.

Elmore has now promised to pay back the amount she should not have claimed in an attempt to remedy the hypocrisy; and she adds that the Welfare Food Challenge highlights why the province needs a poverty reduction plan. I look forward to seeing the real hypocrisy remedied in the upcoming poverty reduction plan with a significant increase in the welfare rates.

The way to address the real issue is by valuing people in deep poverty and recognizing their humanity.

Government itself has done the math and found that increasing income and disability assistance rates to 75 per cent of the poverty line (using the Market Basket Measure) costs only $372 million. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has gone further and calculated the cost of lifting those folks out of poverty entirely, and found that increasing the rates to 100 per cent of the poverty line costs $1.16 billion.

This sounds like a lot to most of us — an impossible, out of reach amount — but we have to remember that the provincial government has $50 billion of our public money in its budget so this amounts to only two per cent of this. Completely possible and within our reach.

And we have to remember that this is fundamentally about valuing people and their humanity.

Trish Garner is the community organizer of the B.C. Poverty Reduction Coalition, a broad-based network of over 400 organizations across B.C. calling for an accountable, bold and comprehensive poverty reduction plan for B.C.


Letters to the editor should be sent to sunletters@vancouversun.com. The editorial pages editor is Gordon Clark, who can be reached at [email protected].

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