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Posts Tagged "Vancouver"

11Jul

7 playgrounds in Vancouver slated for $4.5 million facelift | CBC News

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Seven playgrounds in Vancouver are in line to get a $4.5 million revamp, with a focus on “fun and challenging” play. 

The Vancouver Park Board oversees 160 playgrounds across the city, and city officials say many of them need upgrades as they reach the end of their lifespans. 

“We have a large park system that’s city wide,” said Tiina Mack, manager of park development with the park board.  

“But we really see in the eastern and northern parts of our city [areas] where we have some aging facilities.” 

The park board undertook a city-wide assessment of all the playgrounds in 2015, looking at things like age, condition and the potential for fun the parks have for people of all ages.

“It’s not only play value for the very young, but also for kids of older ages and maybe even for teenagers and adults,” Mack told CBC’s On The Coast.

“There’s nothing like a set of swings for someone of any age to have some fun.” 

A design for what one of the playgrounds, Charleson, would look like with the upgrades. (Vancouver Park Board)

That’s part of what is behind the $4.5 million price tag: developing natural areas and gardens, protecting the trees in the area, adding additional amenities like seating and accessibility features.

“They become not only play spaces but social spaces,” she said. 

The playgrounds slated for renewals are: Ash, Beaconsfield, Cedar Cottage, Charleson, Jones, Kaslo, and Winona parks. Construction is expected to start in the summer or early fall. 

Two preschool play areas at Trout Lake and Thunderbird are also in the works. The park board is in conversations about upgrading the playgrounds at Champlain Heights Community Centre and Granville Park.

A map of where the upgrades are happening – mainly in the north and east parts of Vancouver. (Vancouver Park Board )

Replacing playgrounds is a priority for the city, the park board said in a written statement, and 17 playgrounds in Vancouver have been renovated since 2015. 

Mack said play is crucial for kids to learn social skills and risk management and be active.  

“Not only is it [good for] physical development but also cognitive development,” Mack said. 

“We want kids to be able to be creative and use their imaginations.” 

The Vancouver Park Board oversees 160 playgrounds across the city and, city officials say, many of them need upgrades as they reach the end of their lifespan. 6:04


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11Jul

Metro Vancouver to aim for zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050

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Vancouver city councillor Adriane Carr.


Gerry Kahrmann / PNG

Vancouver city councillor Adriane Carr wants Metro Vancouver to reach a goal of 100-per-cent net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions over the next three decades.

On the road to 100 per cent, Carr says the region should set an interim target of reducing GHGs by 45 per cent by 2030.

Carr will be asking the regional governing body to support the 100-per-cent goal so that Metro Vancouver is in alignment with a special international report on the climate crisis.

“Scientists say that’s exactly what’s needed,” Carr said Thursday. “The world’s leading scientists issued a report in the fall of 2018 that implored governments to act with urgency. The climate is changing faster than they earlier predicted.”

Cutting GHGs by 100 per cent in Metro Vancouver requires updating the Climate 2050 Strategic Framework, which calls for an 80-per-cent reduction.

On Friday, Carr is bringing her amendment to the regional Climate Action Committee of which she is chair.

If approved, it would go to the full Metro Vancouver board for a vote on July 23.

A 100-per-cent net decrease in GHGs would bring the region into alignment with the Special Report on Global Warming by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which provides the United Nations with a scientific analysis of climate change.

The panel’s report said if global warming is not kept to 1.5 degrees C, it could lead to more periods of drought, increased wildfires, and place entire ecosystems at risk.

To reach the 1.5-degree target, it would require “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society,” the panel’s report stated.

Carr admits that becoming carbon-neutral requires systemic change in Metro Vancouver.

“The first step is reaching out to the public in the development of roadmaps to get to these kind of reductions,” she said. “I’m counting on the public and stakeholders to get us to where we’re aiming to keep global warming at a level that avoids catastrophe.”

Carr pointed out that the 100-per-cent net reduction in GHG emissions recognizes that not all fossil fuels will be eliminated by 2050. What it means is that any GHG emissions by then will be offset by methods such as sequestration, a form of long-term storage of carbon dioxide by reforestation and wetland restoration.

The 2030 target of 45 per cent is important, Carr said, because it’s an interim measure which allows public bodies to assess how they’re doing over time.

Vancouver set a goal in 2010 of a 33-per-cent drop in GHGs by 2020. Part of the reason why Vancouver is now only at seven per cent, she said, is because there were no interim targets.

Climate change has already had an affect on Metro Vancouver, the Climate Action Committee report said.

“As one example, the region has been impacted by smoke from unprecedented wildfire activity in western North America in three of the past four summers,” it said. “Expected future climate impacts include more wildfire smoke, an increase in rainfall intensity by 20-45 per cent by 2050 and 40-75 per cent by 2100, and at least one metre of sea level rise.”

The report goes to say that achieving carbon neutrality requires Metro Vancouver to not only reduce GHG emissions as much as possible, but also to commit to using “100 per cent renewable fossil fuel-free energy by 2050.”

Across the country, more than 250 local governments have declared climate emergencies.

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10Jul

Swimming advisories in effect at two Metro Vancouver beaches

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Sunset Beach in Vancouver is under a swimming advisory due to high E. coli counts.


NICK PROCAYLO / PNG

Sunset Beach in Vancouver and Snug Cove on Bowen Island remain under swimming advisories after the water in those areas was found to have high E. coli counts.

A reading of 200 E. coli per 100 mL or higher can lead to an advisory that the water is not suitable for swimming.

Measuring the amount of E. coli bacteria in the water determines fecal contamination. Swimming in contaminated water can increase the risk of developing illnesses such as abdominal cramps, bloody diarrhea and vomiting three or four days after exposure.

The information is used by either of the two health authorities in the region — Vancouver Coastal Health or Fraser Health Authority — to determine whether there should be a swimming advisory.

Metro Vancouver also monitors False Creek, where the guideline for E. coli is 1,000 per 100 mL, five times higher than at nearby Sunset Beach. The level is higher in False Creek because it is not considered a swimming area where people are likely to come in contact with the water.

Matt Kieltyka, a spokesperson at Vancouver Coastal Health, said False Creek’s location next to Sunset Beach has an effect on water quality.

“False Creek, which is not a designated swimming area, does have higher levels of E. coli, and Sunset Beach could be affected by the tidal movement of water,” he said in an email. “It’s fair to say that can be one of the factors that’s contributing to the elevated levels at Sunset Beach.”

Farida Bishay, superintendent of environmental monitoring for Metro Vancouver, said samples are collected daily between May and September from 113 sites at 41 locations and measured at Metro’s Microbiology Laboratory.

At Sunset Beach that translates into one sample every week and two samples every third week.

“The analysis takes 24 hours, so we want to be able to have results on Friday to report to our health authorities before the weekend,” she said.

The most recent reading at two stations at Sunset Beach at the mouth of False Creek on July 3 showed 548 and 455 E. coli per 100 mL; at Snug Cove on July 5, there was a single reading of 416. Swimming advisories were initially issued on June 27 for Snug Cove, and June 29 at Sunset Beach.

The July 5 readings from three sites in west, central and east False Creek show readings of 41, 80, and 319, respectively, of E. coli per 100 mL.

recent Metro Vancouver report looking at E. coli found that beaches had swimming advisories for about 50 days in 2018, the highest since 2014 when there were 240 days of advisories.

Determining exactly what causes a high E. coli reading in any one location isn’t easy, Bishay said.

Reasons can include storm water runoff, animal waste, algae blooms, water temperature, and discharge from recreational vehicles, boats, septic tanks, and sewers.

“We’re not consistently better under wet or under dry conditions,” Bishay said.

Metro Vancouver doesn’t test for differences in E. coli between species, she said. There is no way to tell, for example, whether elevated E. coli are from the growing number of Canada geese around False Creek and English Bay.

The high E. Coli counts in 2014 led to the formation of the False Creek Water Quality Working Group and to a study tracking the source of the bacteria. Results are due later this year.

“It is hoped that the information gained from this study will be helpful to better understand the factors affecting recreational water quality in the region and the sources that may have contributed to the elevated bacterial counts in 2014 and 2018,” the Metro Vancouver report said.

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9Jul

Ballsy participants sought for Vancouver testicle study

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Dr. Ryan Flannigan inside VGH’s Robert Ho research building in Vancouver. Dr. Flannigan is leading a study on a new way to treat scrotum pain. Photo: Arlen Redekop/Postmedia


Arlen Redekop / PNG

Males who suffer debilitating scrotal pain can now sign up for a new study using an old but reformulated numbing medication with lidocaine.

Nearly five per cent of males can suffer so much that mere walking can be painful if they have chronic pain in their testicles and scrotum, the latter of which are the sacs of skin surrounding the testicles.

Dr. Ryan Flannigan, a Vancouver General Hospital urologist who is the director of the male infertility and sexual medicine research program at the University of B.C., said that he has seen up to 100 men with chronic scrotum pain in the last six months alone. Some patients come from as far away as the Northwest Territories. But many men don’t bother to seek medical attention because, as Flannigan points out, males are generally more reluctant than women to go to doctors and more inclined to brush off medical concerns.

Flannigan, who specializes in testicular and penile abnormalities, said testicular pain is described by patients as either constant aching or episodes of sharp pain.

The scrotal pain condition occurs in a range of ages — from teenagers to men in their ’60s — but it most commonly affects those in their 20s and 30s, Flannigan said.

While conventional treatment has involved injecting a lidocaine anesthetic into the spermatic cord to help numb pain, it is temporary relief for only up to four hours. So in the new study, soon to enrol 20 patients, lidocaine will be reformulated into a polymer paste that is designed for a slow, more sustained release, over seven to 14 days.

The needlepoke through the skin at the top of the scrotum into the spermatic cord can be uncomfortable but Flannigan said he tells patients “it’s like a visit to the dentist when the freezing goes in.”


In a study that will soon enrol participants who suffer from severe scrotum pain, Dr. Ryan Flannigan will be injecting a newly formulated solution of a numbing agent designed to provide longer relief. Photo: Arlen Redekop/Postmedia

Arlen Redekop /

PNG

The paste, developed by a UBC spinoff company called Sustained Therapeutics (which is funding the study), will be injected into tissues, not blood vessels. Flannigan said the polymer material will “naturally break down” as it is metabolized.

Besides lidocaine-based injections, other treatments that may be tried include anti-inflammatories, steroids, and sometimes even surgery to cut nerves that are transmitting the pain. Physiotherapy can also help when the pain originates in another area of the body and is referred to the testicles.

Preclinical trials in animals at UBC affirmed the safety and proof of concept behind the intervention. Now the goal of the Phase 1 trial in humans will be to determine a safe and effective dose.

Flannigan said common causes of the condition include a blow to the testicle area, a previous infection in the area, inflammation in the spermatic cord that stores and carries sperm, and nerves pinched during hernia repair or a previous vasectomy. Pain can also be caused by enlarged veins in the scrotum, cysts, or kidney stones. The cause remains unknown in nearly half of cases.

Flannigan said men from around B.C. — or even outside the province — will be considered for the trial. To register an interest, males should contact the clinical trials unit at the Vancouver Prostate Centre or call 604-875-5675.

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Twitter: @MedicineMatters

 

 

 

 




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4Jul

$1.5M in spending for Vancouver recommended in 2019 social grant report

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A new report by Vancouver’s managing director of social policy and projects is recommending City Council authorize more than $1 million in child care enhancement and other grants this year.

Sixty-one new social grants totalling $1,422,864 are recommended by Mary Clare Zak in her report, which is set to be tabled at Vancouver City Council’s next meeting on July 9.

“Social grants are investments that contribute to a healthy city for all. They support non-profit community-based services that facilitate the physical, spiritual, mental and emotional well-being of people,” wrote Zak in the report.

The bulk of the funds would be split between 46 separate grants to support “licensed group child care, preschool, school-aged care and occasional child care programs serving high need families.” 

The total of the 46 grants is $976,140 according to the report.The next largest line item is a grant worth more than $300,000 to support the operation of the Collingwood Gymnasium and Annex in East Vancouver.

Seven social policy capital grants would be provided to improve the “safety, accessibility, and operational needs” of non-profit childcare and service organizations, and five grants worth nearly $50,000 would be given to support start-up costs for “new or expanded childcare operations, assist with financial restructuring to address financial crises, and support innovations in early learning and care.”

The grants would be funded by the 2019 Social Policy Grants operating budget for childcare.


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29Jun

Concussions go ignored on film sets, says Vancouver stunt performer | CBC News

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Action movies are a thrill to watch, but the on-screen stunts can take a toll on performers. 

A survey by the Union of B.C. Performers says most stunt performers have had at least one job-related concussion, but they seldom report the injury. 

Vancouver stunt performer Lori Stewart, health and safety performer advocate for the union, says that needs to change.

Stewart works on shows like Supergirl and has performed in movies like X2: X-Men United and I-Robot.

While she was working on X-Men 2, she did a stunt where she needed to be launched off a porch on a wire and tumble down some stairs. Things went wrong and she missed the stairs, landing on both her head and neck on concrete.

“We try and plan for that not to happen, but sometimes in the moment things can change,” Stewart told Stephen Quinn, host of The Early Edition

Tough it out

Stewart went to the on-set paramedics, but didn’t want to go to the hospital to get checked out. 

“There’s this sort of ingrained culture in stunt performers to maintain that tough persona and that you can shake things off. That having an injury is like a weakness. And really that’s not the truth,” she said.

The 2012 survey conducted by the Union of B.C. Performers found a lot of stunt performers didn’t report having concussions specifically because they didn’t want to lose their jobs. Stewart says many producers and directors do not pay enough attention to performer injuries.  

Stewart says performers are under a great deal of pressure to keep doing stunts for a scene, even after suffering an injury. 

Lori Stewart on Underworld: Evolution in 2006. (Submitted by Lori Stewart )

“We’ve had directors come up to the performer and go, ‘We didn’t get it … you have to go again,’ ” she said. 

“Throughout my career we’ve lost a lot of really fantastic, talented performers because of head injuries. I have way too many friends on permanent disability with brain damage and that’s not okay.”

Stewart says a lot of these injuries could have been prevented by not trying another stunt after getting injured, or wearing a helmet. Concussions can have both serious physical and mental side effects.

“You see really good friends of yours lose their ability to work, lose their house, lose their marriage, have impulse control issues, anger issues and it all starts to crumble.”

Stewart wants to see changes on sets, including more reporting of injuries and increased education about the dangers of both not reporting and concussions.

The union has teamed up with Concussion Awareness Training Tool to create a concussion protocol tool for stunt performers and employers. 

“I don’t think anybody signed up to lose everything during a stunt. We’re making movies, we’re making entertainment. It’s not worth anybody’s life.”

Listen to the full interview here:

Vancouver stunt performer Lori Stewart works on shows like Supergirl. 8:23

With files by The Early Edition.


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21Jun

City of Vancouver makes plans for a smoky summer

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The City of Vancouver is preparing for a smoky summer, making plans to create “respite areas” at several communities centres, libraries and non-market-housing units.

The public spaces could act as clean air havens for people who have health concerns and lack access to an air-conditioned space during air quality advisories. The rooms would be equipped with portable HEPA filters and some would also serve as cooling centres, according to a statement from the City of Vancouver.

Experts are warning that it’s likely to be another hot, smoke-filled summer in B.C. this year. B.C. Wildfire Service information shows the province has seen increased drought and higher-than-average temperatures in 2019, with the trend expected to continue.

“Obviously, we expect increased wildfire and smoke risk, and that includes in the southwest … And increased temperatures are likely to drive higher ozone formation, and so we expect there may be more potential for that this summer as well,” Metro Vancouver air-quality engineer Francis Ries told Postmedia on Tuesday.

Ozone, a pollutant that when mixed with fine particulate matter creates smog, often irritates the eyes, nose and throat, and over time can cause permanent lung damage.

Ries said more studies, including ones that focus on B.C., are making a strong link between climate change and the exacerbation of wildfire seasons.

“As we continue to see further warming, we expect that the patterns we are seeing now are likely to continue or perhaps even get more extreme,” he said.

The summers of 2017 and 2018 were the worst on record for smoky skies across B.C.

In Metro Vancouver, there were 22 days last July and August under air-quality advisories, three more than in the summer of 2017.

The last two summers have far exceeded the number of advisories issued in any other year since 1996, the first year for which data is available. Several years, including 2016, had zero air-quality advisories.

University of B.C. public health professor Dr. Michael Brauer said many public buildings are already equipped with air conditioning and filters that provide effective relief on smoky days. Simply closing windows can significantly improve air quality, while even a small filter can remove particulate matter. Higher-quality filters may require more energy, but buildings could swap them in on days when the air quality is poor.

Brauer said the long-term health impacts of one or two weeks of smoky skies each summer are likely very small, but if that time stretches into one or two months — as it is threatening to do in some parts of the B.C. Interior — it would be “concerning.”

“We know that day-in-day-out exposure (to pollution) can be life-shortening,” he said, alluding to studies in other countries where pollution is a significant problem. “It can causes diseases to get worse, and accelerates the progression of disease.”

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With files by Lori Culbert

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20Jun

Reschedule Vancouver fireworks if air quality poor? Not so fast

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Team U.K. puts on a show at the 2017 Honda Celebration of Light in Vancouver.


Francis Georgian / PNG files

When wildfire smoke settles over English Bay this summer, as experts predict it will, there’s not much Vancouver can do about it.

But the city shouldn’t be adding any more ingredients to the “toxic soup,” says Kitsilano resident Judith Maxie, who wants council to reschedule fireworks events if the air quality is poor.

“You don’t have to be a scientist to see that tossing all those fireworks into the soup isn’t a good thing,” she said Thursday. “This is something we can actually change.”

Maxie doesn’t want to ban fireworks altogether — “over the years we’ve loved attending them,” she said — but wants the city to hold events like the Honda Celebration of Light at a different time of year, or put a contingency plan in place in case it’s smoky during the annual Canada Day fireworks.

Dr. Christopher Carlsten said he considers fireworks pollution “a significant issue,” particularly for people who are sensitive to poor air quality. A number of case reports have shown an increase in asthma attacks and irritation in people with lung disease during fireworks events.

“There’s not a lot of good defences for them in a health sense,” said the Vancouver physician. “If we’re just talking about health, I’d say don’t do it.” But the University of B.C. professor and head of respiratory medicine admitted that argument doesn’t factor in the “cultural equation” or the enjoyment derived from the spectacle.

Carlsten, who holds the Canada research chair in occupational and environmental lung disease, said much of the research on fireworks pollution has been done in countries where festivals last for days and fine particulate pollution accumulates at ground level.

“It’s quite clear that fireworks do affect air quality, but in Canada the events do tend to be short,” he said.


Vancouver’s Honda Celebration of Light show. ‘It’s quite clear that fireworks do affect air quality, but in Canada the events do tend to be short,’ says Dr. Christopher Carlsten, a UBC professor and head of respiratory medicine.

Francis Georgian /

PNG files

University of B.C. public health professor Dr. Michael Brauer said Vancouver’s fireworks shows happen high above the ground, which can help the particulate dissipate sooner, especially if wind conditions are favourable.

“It’s a transient increase,” he said of the rise in fine particulate pollutants associated with fireworks. “For most people, it shouldn’t be a concern, but for those with asthma or heart and lung concerns, it would be best to minimize exposure.”

Metro Vancouver air quality advisor Geoff Doerksen said pollution from fireworks is “short-lived and dissipates quickly,” and most years it doesn’t reach the ground. Any localized impacts to air quality tend to return to normal levels within a few hours.

Doerksen advised people who are concerned to avoid viewing areas and close their windows if they live in the area.

In a statement, the City of Vancouver said it did not receive any complaints about air quality during last year’s fireworks events and “is not considering cancelling or rescheduling fireworks that occur on Canada Day or at the Celebration of Lights.”

The summers of 2017 and 2018 were the worst on record for smoky skies across B.C.


Dr. Christopher Carlsten.

In Metro Vancouver, there were 22 days last July and August under air-quality advisories, three more than in the summer of 2017.

The last two summers have far exceeded the number of advisories issued in any other year since 1996, the first year for which data is available. Several years, including 2016, had zero air-quality advisories.

In 2015, a U.S. study published in Atmospheric Environment found that levels of fine particulate matter are elevated in urban areas by an average of 42 per cent during the 24-hour period starting with a fireworks event.

“That was a national average across 315 monitoring sites; it actually varies from place to place and year to year,” lead author Dian Seidel, a senior scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told Postmedia at the time.

One monitoring station located near the site of a display registered a 370-per-cent increase in fine particles.

Meanwhile, a study led by researchers from the University of Montreal took recorded PM2.5 concentrations as much as 1,000 times normal on single readings within the smoke plume.

Readings from monitoring stations set up at “breathing level” near the ground showed PM2.5 concentrations about 50 times normal levels during the display. Elevated concentrations of fine particles were detected as far away as 14 kilometres, suggesting the particles remain in the atmosphere for “a long period of time,” probably days.

With Postmedia files

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16Jun

‘All I ever asked for’: Homeless Vancouver man’s dog returned safely

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Dave M., a homeless man who didn’t want his last name used, said his American Eskimo dog Cutiepie was stolen on Granville Street. He’s holding a poster May 29 that he hoped would help him find his dog.


Mike Bell / PNG

Cutiepie the dog has been reunited with her owner.

Late last month the fluffy, white American Eskimo pooch had vanished from the makeshift home she shares with her owner Dave M. out front of the Hudson’s Bay store on Granville Street in Downtown Vancouver.

Dave, who declined to give his full last name, said he had left his beloved dog with his belongings while he used the washroom May 24 and when he returned, she was gone.

Shortly after Postmedia News first reported the story, Dave started getting tips from passersby. In one instance, an international exchange student came up to Dave and showed him photographs they had snapped of a dog on a SkyTrain car around the time of her disappearance. It was Cutiepie, Dave said with conviction. From those photos he knew she was with someone.

Eventually, the tips that came in bore fruit, and last week the dog was returned to Dave in perfect health. She was freshly bathed and had supped on kibble and canned tuna and salmon before she went home.

“I’m very blessed to have her back,” Dave said Sunday. “I got my dog back and that’s all I ever asked for.”

Dave said he gave Cutiepie some beef jerky when she came home. She was very hungry, but probably because she was stressed, he said.

Dave said people walking by are happy to see her back. “Everybody knows Cutiepie,” he said.

What had happened, according to an account from the person who had Cutiepie, was they believed the dog had been abandoned when they saw her without any owner present. Cutiepie hadn’t been leashed at the time. Several days after taking the dog home they learned that she was, in fact, well-missed and wanted back at home very badly.

On Sunday, when a Postmedia photographer met with Dave, Cutiepie was on a leash and bore a big doggie grin.

The B.C. SPCA is among the groups that provide services to help those living on the streets care for their pets. The society offers a range of necessary goods and services, including veterinary care, through its Charlie’s pet food-bank initiative. It’s a volunteer-run program and it relies on donations.

The most-needed donations are unopened wet or dry pet food, cat litter and hay for small pets, according to the SPCA. Those goods can be dropped off at the society’s Vancouver branch. Cash donations can be given at any branch and donors can earmark their gifts for Charlie’s pet food bank if they so wish.

Anyone concerned about the well-being of any animal can call the SPCA at 1-855-622-7722.

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13Jun

Possible measles exposure at Vancouver airport: health officials

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A measles patient.


A measles patient.


PNG files

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control is warning that travellers at Vancouver’s airport on Sunday may have been exposed to measles.

The centre says a passenger with the disease had a layover at Vancouver International Airport on June 9.

It warns passengers on an Air China flight from Beijing that arrived in Vancouver at 10:50 a.m. that day and those aboard an Air Canada flight to Regina that left at 2 p.m. may have been exposed.

The passenger went through Canada Customs and Immigration so the centre says people in the main terminal may also be vulnerable.

Measles is a highly infectious airborne disease and symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes and a rash that starts centrally and spreads to the limbs.

Passengers, crew and travellers who may have come into contact with measles are asked to check their immunization status.

The centre says if you become ill and suspect you have measles, call your doctor and inform them so they can arrange a visit in a way that avoids infecting others in the waiting room.

Dozens of people in British Columbia have been infected with measles this year, prompting health officials to emphasize the importance of immunizations.

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