Qualicum Nature Preservation Society president seeks dismissal of court case, cites Protection of Public Participation Act

The Qualicum Nature Preservation Society (QNPS) and its president will go before a judge with an application to have a civil claim for defamation dismissed under the B.C. Protection of Public Participation Act (PoPPA).

The original civil claim was filed by developers Richard and Linda Todsen and Todsen Design and Construction in May. The couple said their reputation has been damaged by comments made by Ezra Morse, president of the QNPS, regarding their proposed development at 650 Eaglecrest Drive. 

Two applications for the dismissal were filed on July 6, one for Morse personally and one for the society.

The application relies on the legal basis of legislation passed in 2019, which protects people from strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPP).

“The evidence suggests that the purpose of the lawsuit is not to seek legal remedy for any damage to the plaintiffs’ reputation. Rather, the true nature of this lawsuit is to intimidate the defendants and other members of the public who have spoken out against the development proposal,” reads the application filed by Tollefson Law Corporation, on behalf of Morse.

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Woman denied occupancy in her Qualicum Beach home over height bylaw infraction

What was supposed to be a peaceful retirement in a quiet community turned into years of bureaucratic hurdles for a Vancouver Island woman. After building her dream home in Qualicum Beach, Krystyna Janik was told her roof is too high and it violates town zoning bylaws.

“I was really so excited — peace, quiet, beautiful ocean. I said god, you know what, finally, finally I will have something for myself and this is what is happening,” Janik said.

Based on town staff recommendation, Qualicum Beach town council voted unanimously to deny Janik an occupancy permit — meaning she can not move into her home, at its regular council meeting on Dec. 9. The recommended motion also put a notice on the land title, so any future owner will know the home violates town zoning laws.

“I think it’s a very valid concern. The Bluffs is a very nice part of town and everyone else is conforming — I don’t see why one house should be able to get an exception for that,” said Coun. Robert Filmer, who is now on leave from council.

The roof is two feet higher than is permitted at the highest point, according to the town.

Working with Mark Eshpeter, the town’s current building inspector, Janik decided to propose the town put the notice on title. This makes it clear to any future owners that the house does not adhere to zoning bylaws. She hoped this would mean she could get an occupancy permit and move in.

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“I lost a brother and a sister in that school in Port Alberni” — Nanoose elder shares stories from residential school

Sitting in the Parksville Museum courtyard in front of a small crowd, he recalled memories of waking to the sound of a beating drum and his elders singing outside the longhouse. With a soft, slow voice, he remembered being connected to his culture and to his family. 

“Oh, that was the most joyous time of my life, when they were building that longhouse,” said Elder Jim Bob from Nanoose First Nations. 

His tone darkened and became more serious. “That stayed with me when I went to residential school. That saved me — my culture saved me.”

Bob described his time in residential school as hell and said he is surprised he is still here. “I lost a brothers in and a sister in that school in Port Alberni. One was pushed out of a window — my dear sister, she was pushed down a stairway. It’s hard to talk about because, you know, anyone with family would understand the feeling that someone would have over a loss like that,” he said.

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COVID-19 couldn’t deter city man from giving 220th pint of blood

A Lethbridge man who has been a regular blood donor nearly all his life did not let the COVID-19 pandemic stop him from giving his 220th pint of blood last week. Rob Stanko, 65, first donated blood when he was a teenager and has been doing it regularly ever since.

“I guess I am a goal-oriented kind of person. I wrote down a saying one time ‘the accomplishment is directly proportional to the challenge’… If I could do 40 (pints of blood), I could maybe do another 20 more – I would set another challenge for myself,” said Stanko.

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Cor Van Raay donates stethoscopes to hospital

One of southern Alberta’s most prominent agribusiness entrepreneurs has made a significant donation in the fight against COVID-19.

Cor Van Raay donated 28 new stethoscopes to the Chinook Regional Hospital in hopes of maximizing patient safety and staff preparedness during the pandemic.

“I cannot overstate the importance of having designated equipment for each treatment space,” said Kevin Reedyk, manager of the CRH emergency department.

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Column: We can’t let the pandemic put grief on hold

It started as a normal Wednesday laying out the paper, but all turning points begin as a normal day.

I am no stranger to grief — I knew to sit down after my sister called and asked if anybody had talked to me yet. When a call starts like that I know I am not going to be the same person when I hang up. She had to tell me my brother was in bad shape and if I didn’t get home I would never see him again.

I was afraid to hang up the phone and be a thousand kilometres away from my family — distance and loss create a cruel sense of helplessness and pain thrives when it is alone, it nests inside a person and pokes around until it finds what breaks you and sometimes the only way to scare it off is a hug from a loved one.

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Ladysmith residents facing renoviction concerned over zero per cent vacancy

Residents of a Ladysmith apartment complex are stuck choosing between tenancy buyout offers in a zero per cent vacancy market, or digging in and fighting against a looming renoviction.

“I will have to leave this community because there is nothing available,” said Susan Burron, who lives at 110 Esplanade. “All I want to do is continue living here respectfully.”

The heritage building recently changed ownership and the new owner hopes to make significant upgrades, which he said cannot be done with tenants residing there.

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Ladysmith council grants Pamela Anderson variance permit for private dock

Ladysmith town council voted to issue a development variance permit to allow construction of a new private dock adjacent to Pamela Anderson’s property. It is designed to be built over the existing footprint of a former dock and will connect to her boathouse on the beach. It will have a long walkway, which will lead to a 3.6 x 12.2 metre float for boat moorage.

“Owner, Pamela Anderson, is currently planning a small-scale residential development to provide suitable accommodations and amenities so her family can settle on the property and continue to reside in the community they treasure,” reads a letter submitted to council from Darryl Jonas, architect. “Design and planning of the property is currently underway, and we anticipate a comprehensive development permit submission to be made early in 2022.”

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Ladysmith council begins approval process for Rocky Creek Road housing development

Ladysmith town council carried first and second reading of proposed zoning and Official Community Plan (OCP) amendments to support a large housing development on Rocky Creek Road.

A conceptual plan shown to council at its Feb. 1 meeting shows a total of 282 dwelling units on the 4.7-hectare site at 1301/1391 Rocky Creek Road. There is a proposed mix of single-family dwellings, apartments and townhomes. The plan also shows 1,650 square metres of commercial space, spread between three buildings.

The amendments will have to go through a public hearing before council approves, refines or denied the application.

“There is a lot of ground to cover, water to go under the bridge before this goes to public hearing,” said Mayor Aaron Stone. “So it might be some time before we go to the next stage of this process and that is really the most critical stage.”

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Musicians and venues faced with uncertain times amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Amid cancelled gigs, venue closures and calls for people to stay home, musicians are being forced to find new ways to connect with fans. Live streaming is quickly becoming the new normal for artists amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Local and touring artists have been relying on social media to connect with fans in a time when face-to-face contact is discouraged.  

“It’s really nice at the end of the day to sit down and watch someone play music, someone you really admire — whether that be locally or on a bigger scale. It just kind of gets you out of your own head about this situation and you’re able to just kind of sink into the music… [and] forget about the scary time we are in,” said Taran Duncan, guitarist for local rock band, Biloxi Parish.

His band had to cancel shows in the coming months because the Owl Acoustic Lounge, where they regularly perform, closed indefinitely. The venue made the choice to close last week — deciding not to run at half capacity, as per government regulations. 

“It is a little bit of a shell-shock. Initially, for me this whole thing [has been] a lot to process… I’m going to rebound and kind of recalibrate and come at it with a clear head,” said Steven Foord, co-owner of the Owl Acoustic Lounge.

It is unclear when the Owl will be able to open again. Foord said he is hopeful to be running in the summer, but is worried about how long the business’ savings will last. Rent deferrals can help, but can become a problem if they accumulate. As a business owner, he does not qualify for unemployment insurance.

“I don’t know where my rent is coming from, on top of my business,” said Foord.

After taking the week to assess the situation, The Owl is considering setting up streaming shows with local musicians. Duncan said he and his bandmates would like to set up full-band live stream shows where fans can donate money, much like a regular live show at the Owl.

“I would be willing to donate [proceeds] to the Owl if it meant keeping those doors open,” said Duncan.

For now, Biloxi Parish front man, Zach Passy, is considering doing live shows solo until the band feels safe to get together. The band is still set to record their sophomore album in May and Passey is using this time to write new music.

“That’s the strangely — if you want to call it beautiful — thing about this. It’s something that literally everyone in the world is having to face, so what do you do? Do you lay down and die or do you try to find solutions and ways to make things work?”  said Foord.