Kyle Balzer, Tri-City News – Jun 3, 2022 / 5:50 pm | Story: 370931
Photo: Facebook/Justice For Trina
A man was arrested today (June 3) at the home of Trina Hunt — the Port Moody woman whose remains were found in March 2021 after she disappeared earlier that year.
Neighbour Mark Tonello tells the Tri-City News one person came out of her Heritage Mountain home in handcuffs around 4 p.m. this afternoon after police swarmed the residence.
The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) has since confirmed an arrest was made at a Port Moody home in connection to her case, in which spokesperson Sgt. David Lee says the suspect was cooperative.
Lee said officers rushed to the home, spoke with the man inside and took him into custody.
He says the suspect can not be named at this time as the investigation is still ongoing and no charges have been laid.
Lee also explains investigators were able to obtain “sufficient information” that led to the arrest, and the process has included efforts from the Port Moody Police Department (PMPD).
Hunt was confirmed deceased on June 1, 2021, three months after remains were found in Silver Creek near Hope, B.C.
The then 48-year-old, who would’ve turned 50 on Monday (June 6), was first reported missing to PMPD on Jan. 18, 2021. At the time, she was reportedly last seen in her home that same morning.
After public pleas when foul play was suspected, the community conducted several searches through the local forests in hopes of finding Hunt, or something that could help officials in their investigation.
According to the #JusticeForTrina Facebook page, a video explains more than 500 volunteers spent 1,200 hours searching and covering 2,000 km of land — equalling the distance from Port Moody to Los Angeles and ascending to the top of Mount Everest six times.
It was ultimately determined on May 1, 2021, some remains found near Hope two months earlier in March were Hunt’s.
On June 1, her family announced $50,000 for anyone that came forward with tips that lead to an arrest and potential charges, to which the Hunts told the person responsible to “own up” to their actions.
Today’s arrest is also one year after IHIT executed search warrants at two homes on June 6, 2021 — including Hunt’s Heritage Mountain residence and one in Mission where a vehicle was taken for evidence.
Before today, no other public information had been formally released.
Anyone with details or tips regarding Hunt’s homicide is strongly urged to call IHIT at 1-877-551-4448 or email [email protected], anonymous contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or go online to www.solvecrime.ca.
Lee explains to the Tri-City News this is especially the case for today’s events as “unrest has been made worse looking for information.”
Evacuation alerts have been issued to ten addresses in rural Grand Forks as waters rise in the low-lying areas near the Kettle River.
The Regional District of Kootenay Boundary issued the alert on Friday afternoon after the rising river waters became a flood risk.
The alert affects roughly 21 people, on Beatrice Street and Division Street, who are advised to be ready to leave with very short notice.
The full list of addresses can be found online here.
Residents should prepare for the possibility of an Evacuation Order by:
- Gathering essential items: The 5 Ps (People, Pets, Prescriptions, Papers and Photos)
- Moving belongings to higher locations within your home
- Moving recreational vehicles to higher locations
- Designating a meeting place for family members and co-workers outside the evacuation area
- Arranging accommodation for your family if necessary
- Preparing to move any disabled persons and children
- Moving pets and livestock to a safe area
- Monitoring news sources for information
In the event an Evacuation Order is issued, further instructions would be given at that time.
The West Kettle River and its surrounding tributaries were upgraded to Flood Watch on Friday, where the latest hydrologic modelling predicts the heaviest rain, up to 50mm, will fall through Friday and Saturday.
A High Streamflow Advisory is maintained for the Boundary Region including the Kettle River, Boundary Creek, Granby River and surrounding tributaries (excluding the West Kettle River above).
Sand bag stations are being deployed to the following sites for residents at greatest risk of flooding:
- Westbridge Community Hall
- Rock Creek Riverside Centre
- Midway Public Works
- Grand Forks: 18th Street (behind cemetery & up from dog park).
For more information, visit the RDKB website here.
Jane Seyd, Glacier Media – Jun 3, 2022 / 3:34 pm | Story: 370909
Photo: Glacier Media
North Vancouver RCMP are seeking the public’s help in investigating a violent attack with a machete that happened outside the North Vancouver SeaBus terminal Wednesday night.
North Vancouver RCMP are seeking the public’s help in investigating a violent attack with a machete that happened outside the North Vancouver SeaBus terminal Wednesday night.
North Vancouver RCMP are appealing for the public’s help after a 26-year-old man was reportedly attacked by teens wielding machetes near the North Vancouver SeaBus entrance Wednesday evening (June 1).
Police rushed to the scene after receiving multiple 911 calls around 9:15 p.m. from witnesses who saw the machete attack take place.
Officers arrived to find passersby providing first aid to the man, who had suffered what police described as a “significant wound to his arm.”
Police immediately provided emergency first aid, which included the use of a police tourniquet to stop the bleeding, and called for paramedics, said Sgt. Peter DeVries, spokesman for the North Vancouver RCMP.
The man was rushed to hospital in serious condition.
“There was a significant wound that required surgery,” said DeVries.
Police learned from witnesses there had been an altercation between the victim and a group of four to five youths who had fled the scene prior to police arriving, said DeVries.
Some time later, North Vancouver RCMP officers conducting patrols at the Phibbs Exchange bus loop at Main Street and Hwy 1, located two teens who matched descriptions provided by witnesses – a 17-year-old boy and a 13-year-old boy. Both were found to be in possession of machetes, said DeVries, and were arrested for possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose.
Those teens have since been released into the custody of their guardians, on conditions not to possess any weapons and not to go near Lonsdale Quay.
Police said although the victim and the teens didn’t know each other, the attack does not appear to be random.
DeVries said they believe there were two or three other youths who were involved in the altercation they would like to identify.
“We believe there are people who have video footage on their cellphones,” he said. Police are asking anyone who has video footage of the incident to call police at 604-985-1311.
They are also encouraging anyone who may have video surveillance from the area along East Esplanade between Lonsdale Avenue and St. Georges Avenue, between 9 p.m. and 9:45 on June 1, to check for footage.
DeVries described the attack as alarming. “There’s absolutely no reason anyone should be walking around North Vancouver with a machete,” he said.
Police have not released information about whether the teens arrested are from the North Shore.
No charges have been laid yet. Police said the investigation is continuing.
Jeff Bell / Times Colonist – Jun 3, 2022 / 10:30 am | Story: 370868
Photo: Google Street View
Information provided by an alert bus driver led Campbell River RCMP to a suspect in a Thursday afternoon bank robbery.
The suspect was arrested on a bus in the city’s Willow Point district.
Police responded at 2:26 p.m. to the Bank of Montreal in the Shoppers Row area, where witnesses said a masked man had produced a note demanding money from a teller.
He left with what police called a “substantial” amount of cash and was spotted changing clothes a short distance away.
Police said the 42-year-old suspect is known to them.
“This was the best possible outcome that we could hope for in such a situation,” said Const. Maury Tyre. “The quick response by police and the excellent witnesses allowed the incident to come to a conclusion without anyone being injured and the stolen funds being recovered.”
Photo: BC Gov Flickr
Minister of Forests Katrine Conroy at a news conference on Friday, June 3, 2022.
UPDATE: 10:25 a.m.
B.C.’s spring has been cooler than normal so far, and cooler and wetter conditions are expected to persist through June. But long-range seasonal forecasts suggest the heat could return in a big way later on in the summer, stoking wildfire fears.
Friday morning, lead forecaster for the BC Wildfire Service Matt MacDonald presented the seasonal wildfire forecast for B.C., which shows promising weather through June in the Southern Interior when it comes to fire conditions.
“There’s a relatively strong signal that we’ll expect cooler than normal conditions through June for the southern part of the province,” MacDonald said.
“There is a signal for this wet weather to continue. There’s a really good example of that this weekend with lots of rain coming at us across the province. As we get into June, it’s looking like it’ll resemble a lot of what we saw in May – a persistent cool, wet pattern, particularly for the southern two-thirds of the province.”
But MacDonald cautioned that long-range forecasting of precipitation is particularly difficult, and can sometimes be no better than “flipping a coin.”
MacDonald noted that while most of B.C. was wetter than normal in May, the Thompson-Okanagan and southern Cariboo were some of the few places that were actually drier than average.
After one of the most devastating wildfire seasons in the province’s history last year, British Columbians will no doubt be welcoming the cooler spring conditions. With a larger snowpack than usual at higher elevations, far fewer fires have been sparked this year.
While the province typically sees about 35 lightning-sparked fires in May, there were zero this year. To date, 137 wildfires have started in the province this year, which is about 60 per cent of the five-year average for this time of year.
But MacDonald said longer-range seasonal modelling shows temperatures likely returning to normal in the southern part of the province come July, and temperatures rising higher than normal in August.
“What we’re thinking right now is that as we enter July we’ll see a return to seasonal values and then particularly as we get to the latter half of July we’ll probably get to warmer than normal conditions,” MacDonald said.
“There’s a lot better agreement as we get to the latter half of the summer that we’ll be looking at a warmer-than-normal end of summer.”
MacDonald noted that wildfire activity is largely dependent on the summer’s rainfall and lightning activity – both of which are largely impossible to forecast far in advance. Additionally, an extreme event like last June’s “heat dome” can only be forecast about two weeks in advance, according to MacDonald.
“It doesn’t take very long, it can take a matter of a week for conditions to change drastically,” MacDonald said.
B.C.’s Minister of Forests Katrine Conroy noted during Friday’s press conference that this year’s budget added $359 million in new funding to help B.C. deal with wildfires. This included $145 million for the BC Wildfire Service and Emergency Management B.C., changing the BCWS to a year-round service.
“Last year’s devastating fire season highlighted the importance of wildfire prevention for B.C. communities and, as we saw first-hand in Logan Lake, how it can make a real difference for people’s lives,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Forests.
“That’s why our government is more than doubling the funding available for wildfire prevention activities like FireSmart and making historic investments to transform BC Wildfire Service into a year-round, more proactive service.”
ORIGINAL: 8:55 a.m.
B.C.’s Minister of Forests Katrine Conroy and Matt MacDonald, lead forecaster from the BC Wildfire Service, are providing the June wildfire seasonal outlook Friday morning.
Mark Nielsen / Prince George Citizen – Jun 3, 2022 / 10:15 am | Story: 370866
Photo: Glacier Media
A B.C. Supreme Court Justice has set aside a Superintendent of Motor Vehicles adjudicator’s decision to uphold a 90-day driving prohibition for a Quesnel man.
In issuing the decision, dated May 31, Justice Ron Tindale found the adjudicator lacked the evidence to determine which provision of the Criminal Code police used to make the breath demand.
Dustin Alsager Rivard was issued the prohibition on the night of Nov. 30, 2020, after both samples he provided through a roadside screening device produced a fail.
Rivard had just left a restaurant in Prince George when police pulled him over after he allegedly failed to maintain his lane and went through a stop sign.
Rivard applied to the Superintendent for a review and, in February 2021, an SMV adjudicator issued a written decision upholding the prohibition.
Rivard subsequently filed a petition in B.C. Supreme Court seeking to have the adjudicator’s decision set aside. In doing so, he set out a number of concerns with how RCMP conducted their investigation, most of which Tindale dismissed.
However, Tindale took issue with the adjudicator’s finding as to which of two subsections of the Criminal Code was used to make the breath demand.
One, 320.27 (1) (b), is reserved for instances in which the officer has “reasonable grounds” to suspect a person may have been driving while impaired within the past three hours.
The other 320.17 (2) is for instances when the officer has an approved screening device at hand and requires the driver to “immediately provide samples of breath” for analysis.
According to a blog on the Acumen Law Corporation website, subsection 320.17 (2) is the result of December 2018 amendments to the Criminal Code that allow an officer to make a breath demand “without any grounds to believe the driver has been drinking.”
“Lawyers, including us, labelled this ‘arbitrary breath testing’ because there is no test regulating the behaviour of the police. The Government decided to call it “Mandatory Alcohol Screening,” Acumen says in the post.
The SMV adjudicator found the demand was made pursuant to the 320.17 (2) and further inferred that the Charter card used by the officer contained the appropriate demand.
Both the officer’s narrative and the report were on pre-printed templates and Tindale noted that neither document has a section to be filled in if the demand was made under 320.17 (2).
Instead, the section of the narrative asking for the time when the officer’s reasonable suspicion was left blank and under the section asking how the suspicion was formed the letters “MAS” were typed in.
Likewise, in the report, in the box which asks the time when the officer formed his suspicion was crossed out and on the top of the box were the handwritten letters “MAS.”
The adjudicator found it likely that MAS meant Mandatory Alcohol Screening but Tindale disagreed.
“It is clearly not an acronym that would have been known to the petitioner or a member of the general public,” Tindale wrote.
He also noted that counsel for the respondents – namely the Superintendent of Motor Vehicles and the Attorney General of British Columbia – were unable to explain why the documents had not been updated to account for demands made pursuant to s. 320.27 (2).
As a consequence, Tindale set aside the adjudicator’s decision and remitted the matter for a further hearing on which subsection was used.
Graeme Wood / Glacier Media – Jun 3, 2022 / 10:00 am | Story: 370863
Photo: Glacier Media
A Surrey family of seven is trying to track down their former rental home’s buyer after claiming they were wrongfully evicted so the rent could be hiked 70%.
Natalie Egger, her husband Ryan, and five children had been renting a detached home in South Surrey when her landlord notified them in March 2021 that the house was to be listed for sale.
In September 2021, the property sold for $2.3 million and the family was given a two-month notice to vacate by that December.
That notice contains a clause stating the home’s buyer has “asked the landlord in writing to give notice because the purchaser or a close family member intends in good faith to occupy the rental unit.”
The Eggers moved out in October to a nearby home to accommodate their children. Their rent spiked from $2,800 to $3,200 monthly, said Eggert, a 41-year-old consultant for agricultural businesses.
“We had to jump on the first place because there’s only so much we could do. We didn’t have a lot of options at that time, so you sort of get what you get and don’t get too upset,” explained Egger.
When December rolled around, the Eggers noticed the home was vacant. Then they saw — with the help of former neighbours — that many people were coming and going from the house. Egger and others suspected that prospective renters or buyers were viewing the home.
Egger looked online and saw the home listed for rent at $4,750 monthly — a mark-up of $1,950 from what her family had been paying.
At some point in time earlier this year, the home became occupied. Egger and her husband have since picked up mail from the house and were able to ascertain from the occupants that they were renting it.
Glacier Media phoned the number listed on a Craigslist advertisement for the rental listing, and a woman who picked up confirmed she was the buyer.
She first stated she was living at the home but later stated that she intended to live in it. Asked about who was occupying the house now, the buyer said friends of the family were. She did not take further questions.
Egger has filed a notice of dispute resolution with the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB), which oversees landlord-tenant disputes and rental regulations in the province.
“Our landlord sold the property and served us notice that the purchaser intends in good faith to occupy the rental unit. The purchaser did not occupy the rental unit after taking possession on Dec.1/2021 and placed ads on Facebook Market Place and Craigslist within one week of possession to re-rent the unit at an increased rate of rent of $4,750. Our current rent was $2,800/month. We wanted to stay, told the landlord and their realtor, but were not given that option by the purchaser,” states the claim filed with the RTB.
According to the Residential Tenancy Policy guideline, a landlord is to pay compensation to a tenant when the landlord “fails to use the rental unit for the purpose for which the notice was given” for at least six months.
“If the landlord does not fulfill these requirements, they must pay the tenant compensation equal to 12 months’ rent payable under the former tenancy agreement, unless the landlord’s failure was due to extenuating circumstances,” states the policy.
Extenuating circumstances include the death of a family member who intended to occupy the home or a rental unit destroyed in a wildfire. Changing one’s mind is not extenuating, the policy states.
Egger is seeking $33,600 in compensation.
Zuzana Modrovic, a lawyer with the Tenant Resource & Advisory Centre (TRAC), says her group sees many instances of unfaithful declarations leading to compensation claims. The process typically has tenants navigating through an RTB hearing and possibly court.
Egger says getting a hearing, which is scheduled for October, has been daunting.
She has yet to ascertain the buyer’s home address because the seller failed to disclose it on the notice to end the tenancy. Subsequently, neither the buyer’s realtor nor the seller’s realtor would assist Egger. A land title search only provides the names of the buyers and doesn’t list their other home addresses.
Glacier Media has reached out to the B.C. Financial Services Authority, which regulates real estate professionals, to clarify if the agents made an error by not providing the buyer’s home address to fully inform Egger.
Egger may need to hire a process server to serve the buyer with notice of the claim.
“RTB basically said it’s our job to find the owners,” said Egger.
Egger has also learned that the RTB has no enforcement mechanism, should her case be successful. If the compensation is not paid, Egger may find herself in a court battle as a creditor.
“Most people just drop it because it’s too much work. RTB doesn’t do much; the laws are there, but no one enforces them, or it’s very poorly enforced,” said Egger.
A spokesperson from the Ministry of Attorney General and Responsible for Housing told Glacier Media that the RTB is a neutral public body that cannot assist applicants. However, it says the government has made some changes to assist tenants.
The most significant change related to compensation claims is shifting the burden of proof to the landlord.
“Before, if the landlord failed to follow through on that plan, and a tenant sought compensation from their landlord, the burden was on the tenant to prove it. The amendment shifts the onus to the landlord to prove they have used the property for the stated purpose of ending the tenancy,” stated the spokesperson by email.
The spokesperson noted that an applicant, such as Egger, must ensure that the landlord is properly served; otherwise, the application may be dismissed without leave to reapply.
“If an arbitrator issues a monetary order, the successful party must serve the order on the unsuccessful party. If the unsuccessful party does not pay the amount of the monetary order, the successful party can enforce the order in the Provincial Court of British Columbia if the amount ordered is below the small claims limit,” stated the spokesperson.
The Canadian Press – Jun 3, 2022 / 9:50 am | Story: 370862
Photo: The Canadian Press
Trucks haul loads of rock on Highway 8 along the Nicola River, which had to be rebuilt after it was washed away during November flooding.
The potential for flooding has prompted several evacuation alerts in British Columbia as warmer weather and rain speed snowmelt.
Cold, rainy weather delayed the spring thaw by about a month and there’s concern that several days of above average temperatures could cause heavy snowpacks to melt rapidly, overwhelming some waterways.
A flood watch has been issued by the River Forecast Centre for the Bulkley River in northwestern B.C., and evacuation alerts are in effect for low lying properties on either side of the river at Smithers.
Evacuation alerts have also been posted for northern B.C., in the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine, for properties along the Skeena River north of Terrace.
High streamflow advisories cover much of northern and north-central B.C., and extend from the Cariboo south to the United States border.
Forecasters say current modelling suggests rain and snowmelt could cause some flooding this weekend, with areas around the Okanagan and Boundary regions among the hardest hit, but rainfall amounts remain uncertain.
The Canadian Press – Jun 3, 2022 / 6:58 am | Story: 370836
Photo: The Canadian Press
British Columbia’s opposition parties left the legislature Thursday saying Premier John Horgan’s New Democrats have lost touch with the realities facing the province and its people, while predicting the government’s electoral defeat over a museum replacement plan.
A four-month spring session, where health, affordability and the provincial museum project were dominant issues, concluded with tense exchanges in the legislature.
Opposition Liberal Leader Kevin Falcon said the NDP’s decision to proceed with the $789-million Royal B.C. Museum project will become the government’s “death warrant.”
“Mark my words, Friday, May 13, is the day the NDP really have signed their own death warrant as a political party,” Falcon said at a post-session news conference at his legislature office.
May 13 is the day Horgan announced the government’s plan to tear down and rebuild the museum, which has since become a matter of daily attacks by the Liberals, who call the plan the premier’s “vanity legacy project.”
“If they go ahead with that, this will be their fast ferries and this will bring their government down,” said Falcon, referring to the former NDP government’s fast-ferries shipbuilding program in the late 1990s that had cost overruns and delays, and even when they were completed, the ships turned out to be unsuitable for the trip between the mainland and Vancouver Island.
Falcon was elected leader last February and took a seat in the legislature this month after winning a byelection in Vancouver-Quilchena.
The next provincial election is scheduled to be held in the fall of 2024.
Green Leader Sonia Furstenau said Horgan and the government have failed to see what residents are facing in the province.
She accused the premier and government during question period of doing more talking than working on preventive measures since last year’s disastrous, fires, floods and slides.
“We sure hear a lot from this government about committed to something in the future. But we don’t hear a lot about the outcomes,” she said.
Lytton was mostly destroyed by fire, farms were flooded, crops destroyed, many people can’t afford housing and there’s a shortage of family doctors in B.C., but the government still congratulates itself on its efforts to help people, said Furstenau.
“They are out of touch with the realities British Columbians are experiencing,” she said. “This government has made gaslighting its organizing principle for communications. What people need from this government is to recognize the reality that they are experiencing.”
Furstenau asked if Horgan can “be honest about the state of affairs in this province.”
NDP house leader Mike Farnworth accused Furstenau of attacking Horgan’s integrity.
Horgan was not in the legislature.
“I think questioning the integrity of any member of this house, particularly the premier, through a rambling statement, without a question attached to it, quite frankly, I find offensive,” said Farnworth.
He said on issues of health, education, transportation or any other, “this government is working every single day to improve the lives of British Columbians.”
The government passed almost two dozen new bills, including legislation that will lead to a cooling-off period for homebuyers navigating the province’s high-pressure real estate environment.
Farnworth said outside the legislature the government passed a people- and family-focused budget that offers supports through challenging times.
“I’m confident our government’s doing everything we can to deal with the issues that matter to most British Columbians,” he said.
The session also saw the legislature return to its pre-COVID-19 operations of face-to-face interactions after two years of virtual news conferences and hybrid sittings.
Horgan was a regular presence in the legislature after undergoing cancer treatment late last year, but he missed some time this spring after contracting COVID-19.
The session also saw Horgan use an expletive in a heated exchange with the Opposition Liberals, although he later apologized for his use of the F-word.
The Canadian Press – Jun 3, 2022 / 6:49 am | Story: 370833
Photo: The Canadian Press
Money Laundering Commissioner Austin Cullen.
The final report from British Columbia’s public inquiry into money laundering is set to be submitted to the government today.
The New Democrat government appointed B.C. Supreme Court Justice Austin Cullen in May 2019 to lead the inquiry after several official reports concluded that hundreds of millions of dollars linked to organized crime and the drug trade had affected the province’s real estate, luxury vehicle and gaming sectors.
The Cullen Commission’s website says its mandate includes making findings of fact on the extent, growth and methods of money laundering in B.C. and whether the acts or omissions of regulatory agencies and individuals “contributed to money laundering in the province or amount to corruption.”
Since the spring of 2020, the commission heard testimony from about 200 witnesses over 130 days, including former B.C. premier Christy Clark, several former and current cabinet ministers, police officers, gaming officials and financial crime experts and academics.
Two senior gaming investigators testified that they raised concerns in 2009 with gaming and government officials, including cabinet ministers, about increasing amounts of cash in Vancouver-area casinos that they suspected was connected to organized crime.
Attorney General David Eby testified he appointed an independent review of money laundering at B.C. casinos after watching videos of gamblers picking up large bags packed with $20 bills outside casinos and bringing them inside the venues.
Eby, who will receive a copy of Cullen’s report along with Finance Minister Selina Robinson and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth, says the government plans to release the report, but he didn’t provide a date.
“I’m looking forward to the report,” says Eby. “Commissioner Cullen and his team worked very hard on it and heard from a lot of witnesses. I think it will be very helpful information for British Columbians about how we got into the mess we got into and also how we turn B.C. and Vancouver into a model for fighting money laundering instead of a centre where it takes place.”
The Canadian Press – Jun 3, 2022 / 6:44 am | Story: 370832
Photo: The Canadian Press
A former federal health minister who championed decriminalization in Canada says a three-year model approved for British Columbia may not provide ample evidence to ensure the success of a policy that should have been implemented across the country.
Jane Philpott said in an interview the evidence from Portugal, the first European country to decriminalize small amounts of drugs for personal use in 2001, could not be assessed for several years after other health, legal and housing measures were also put in place for entrenched drug users.
“Three years of a small piece of a whole package will not be enough to be able to say whether this works or doesn’t,” she said of Canada’s plan in B.C. “And in some ways, there’s anxiety over the failure to demonstrate its success.”
Decriminalization is slated to go into effect in B.C. at the end of January 2023, when those 18 and over will not face criminal penalties for possessing a total of 2.5 grams of opioids, cocaine, methamphetamine and MDMA, also known as ecstasy. Police would no longer confiscate drugs.
Philpott visited Portugal when she was the health minister and said decriminalization there is effective because it’s part of a comprehensive approach that allows people found with illicit drugs to go before a panel that includes medical, legal and social service workers who can offer them supports for any addiction issues.
“That’s one of the reasons why doing a teeny bit in the direction of decriminalization doesn’t allow us to be able to actually see what a fulsome, comprehensive response to substance use is,” Philpott said.
She served as Liberal health minister between 2015 and 2017. Philpott is now dean of health sciences at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., where she also works as a family doctor.
Federal Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Carolyn Bennett said Tuesday the seven-month delay in implementing an exemption to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act would allow police to be trained to refer drug users to voluntary health services and for health authorities to put supports in place.
However, Philpott said there wasn’t a need to wait so long for decriminalization, which should be part of a national plan because the death toll from the toxic drug supply is too high across the country.
“When 20 people a day are dying of overdoses and toxic drugs and ongoing stigmatization and all of the other harms associated with illicit drug use are at a crisis point, I think it could be implemented sooner, if there were the will for that.”
On Wednesday, the federal government voted down an NDP private member’s bill calling for decriminalization across the country.
Philpott said the legalization of cannabis in 2018 has shown “the sky has not fallen,” and there’s now widespread acceptance by the public for decriminalization across a country where over 27,000 people died from toxic street drugs between 2016 and September 2021.
“I think there’s a lot of political fear of talking about decriminalization. And I think Canadians are ready for it, I think they want to have a grown-up conversation about this.”
Canada could also learn lessons from other European countries like Switzerland and Germany, which provide safer drugs including injectable opioids to prevent deaths, Philpott said.
Matt Sutton, spokesman for the New York-based Drug Policy Alliance, said decimalization in Oregon, starting in February 2021, was considered a success after the first year, but there have been some challenges.
“There were over 16,000 people who have already accessed services so that was a huge win because these were services that were completely voluntary, nobody was forced into them,” Sutton said.
“The biggest things that people have taken advantage of so far is harm-reduction services and housing support. To us, that’s not surprising because those are the entry points so we can eventually get them into treatment.”
Sutton said people caught with drugs, which can be carried in various amounts depending on the substance, face a $100 fine unless they call a hotline for services.
Fears that the fine would be a deterrent have not materialized, he said, adding it has instead been an incentive for getting support.
“What we’ve seen is that police haven’t been issuing a whole lot of citations, and it varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, which we see as a benefit because the whole idea was to remove police from the picture and have a public health approach.”
However, Sutton said much of the funding for services has not yet been delivered as promised to voters who wanted action on the overdose crisis and voted for decriminalization in a ballot initiative.
“We are really struggling with that and really working with the Oregon Health Authority and the legislature to streamline that process,” he said.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States shows 1,069 people fatally overdosed in Oregon in 2021, up from 880 a year earlier.
A special edition wine made from grapes that were unscathed by the wildfire that tore through Lytton last summer will be going on sale as part of a fundraiser to rebuild the village.
The end of June will mark one year since the devastating Lytton wildfire. Only a few properties were left untouched by the blaze, one of which was Winch Spur Vineyard.
Lillooet’s Fort Berens Winery has teamed up with Winch Spur Vineyard for special batch of wine, and 100 per cent of the sale’s proceeds will be donated to help recovery efforts in Lytton.
Rolf de Bruin, co-founder and co-owner of Fort Berens, said in a statement the winery has a “deep connection” to the Lytton community.
“Since the fire, our team had been looking for ways to be a part of the community rebuilding efforts,” de Bruin said.
“On harvest day, just a few months after the fire while driving from Lillooet to Lytton, the Fort Berens team — deeply moved by the devastating loss in Lytton — crafted a plan to launch a fundraising campaign. These Pinot Gris grapes from Lytton escaped the fire and became grapes with a special purpose.”
The Special Edition Lytton Strong Pinot Gris is made exclusively with grapes from Lytton’s Winch Spur Vineyard.
Jackie Tegart, MLA for Fraser-Nicola, presented the fundraising campaign in the B.C. legislature.
“To lift spirits and raise awareness and funds for the significant rebuild and recovery process, Lillooet’s Fort Berens Estate Winery is engaging the community by the Lytton Strong Fundraiser,” Tegart said.
Tegart said Fort Berens Estate Winery has purchased grapes from Chuck and Nonie McCann’s Winch Spur Vineyard over the years, typically adding them into a larger blend under the Fort Berens label.
“This year, the winery has decided to do something different,” Tegart said.
“They again purchased all the grapes from 2021. However, instead of combining them with their blend, all the Winch Spur grapes have been bottled as a special edition wine that will be sold by auction this spring.”
According to Fort Berens, 120 cases — or 1440 bottles — of the special edition wine will be sold during a fundraising campaign starting Friday until June 12.
In addition to wine sales, the campaign will also feature a silent auction, a 50/50 raffle, and the opportunity to donate directly to the campaign.
“Our goal is to raise $125,000 during this fundraising campaign. Our desire is to have these funds go towards a dedicated legacy building project for the community of Lytton,” de Bruin said, adding winery staff are currently working with Lytton’s mayor, council and staff on the fundraiser.
Fort Berens said it is currently seeking corporate sponsorships, donations for the silent auction, and volunteers to help with the fundraising campaign.
To get involved, email [email protected].
Photo: Fort Berens
Special Edition Lytton Strong Pinot Gris
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