Man in custody after domestic homicide in Maple Ridge

Maple Ridge: The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team has laid charges against 29 year old Randy Scott in relation to the shooting death of 33 year old Pitt Meadows resident, Peter Bender.

“This homicide was a result of a domestic related incident that occurred in the early morning hours of December 19, 2015.  Randy Scott has been charged with Second Degree Murder and is in police custody after turning himself in,” says Cst. Meghan Foster,  Media Relations Officer, Integrated Homicide Investigation Team

“An arrest warrant was issued for Mr. Scott on January 19, 2016.  Mr. Scott turned himself in on February 16, 2016 to face these charges.” says Cst. Meghan Foster.

Mr. Scott is expected to appear in the Port Coquitlam Provincial Court on February 18, 2016.

‘Severely intoxicated’ driver pulled over in Abbotsford

A driver who police describe as “severely intoxicated” was pulled over on Sumas Way in Abbotsford on Tuesday night.

RCMP Lower Mainland Traffic Services was alerted at about 10 p.m. after several calls came in from other motorists about an erratic driver on Highway 1.

Const. Blair Fuller said that when the first officer arrived on the scene, the driver did not pull over and police had to move their vehicles in front of him to get him to stop on Sumas Way between Old Yale and Old Clayburn roads.

Fuller said the driver had difficulty walking when he was taken out of his vehicle.

“We actually kind of had to make sure that he wouldn’t wobble or stumble into traffic. A couple of times when he was walking toward the passenger side of the police car, he actually stumbled into the ditch, and at one point he actually fell down,” he said.

Police found a 26-ounce bottle of vodka in the vehicle, and Fuller said it was “about 80 per cent empty.”

The driver had no previous history of impaired driving and was given a 90-day immediate roadside suspension.

Vancouver murder victim pleaded with killers to ‘hold on’

Victim and another South Asian prisoner named Randy Naicker were living in same halfway house before the shooting

Vancouver murder victim pleaded with killers to 'hold on'

Rajinder Soomel was shot and killed on Cambie Street in 2009 while he was walking to a convenience store from the halfway house where he was living.

METRO VANCOUVER — Before Rajinder Soomel was shot to death in the middle of Cambie Street six years ago, he shouted at his killers to “hold on, hold on, hold on,” a Crown prosecutor told B.C. Supreme Court Tuesday.

Michael Barrenger outlined the Crown’s case against Kevin James Jones and Colin Victor Stewart, charged with first-degree murder in Soomel’s fatal Sept. 29, 2009 shooting.

“I anticipate that a witness who saw the shooting, who was located close to it, will testify that Raj Soomel, before he was shot, said: ‘hold on, hold on, hold on,’” Barrenger said.

“Eight bullets were fired into Raj Soomel. The bullets pierced his head, his chest and his abdomen. Raj Soomel collapsed in the road dead just south of the intersection at Cambie and 19th.”

Barrenger explained to jurors that his opening statement is not evidence, but a summary of the evidence the Crown expects to call during the trial at the Vancouver Law Courts.

 He said other witnesses saw Soomel’s killers, wearing dark hoodies, chase him across Cambie after he stopped to get food at a local pizza joint.

And he expects witnesses to tell the trial they saw the two killers get into a grey or silver getaway car near the Starbucks metres from where Soomel collapsed.

Barrenger said police found a trail of evidence linked by DNA to Jones and Stewart that appeared to have been thrown from the vehicle as it raced away.

Police found a gun in the alley east of Cambie between 19th and 20th.

“That gun is one of the two guns used to shoot and kill Raj Soomel,” Barrenger said.

Closer to 20th, a pair of Remington Camoflauge gloves were located. Then a block away at 20th and Yukon, police found “the other gun used to murder Raj Soomel,” Barrenger said.

About three blocks away in the 4000-block of Yukon, police found another pair of gloves, a black hoodie and a bandana.

“DNA on three of those items came back to Colin Stewart. And DNA on two of those items cam back to Kevin Jones,” Barrenger said.

Soomel was gunned down about two blocks from the Dick Bell-Irving halfway house where he had been staying since August 2009.

Barrenger said staff at the halfway house noticed suspicious activity in the days before the slaying.

Cars were seen driving back and forth in front of the house just west of Cambie on 21st.

And there were phone calls made to the facility, including one that was traced to Jones’s girlfriend.

The suspicious incidents started after another South Asian prisoner named Randy Naicker was paroled to the halfway house on Sept. 24, 2009, Barrenger said.

Soomel left the halfway house just after 10 p.m. on the night he was killed. A staff member mistakenly wrote in his log that Naicker had gone out to the store, Barrenger said.

“Within minutes, two men armed with guns with their faces partly concealed burst into DBI. One of them screamed at him: ‘Where’s Randy? Where’s Randy?’”

A gun was pointed at the worker’s head.

“You will also hear his recollection that he was struck in the head with the gun, injuring him,” Barrenger said.

The worker told the gunmen that Naicker had gone to the store.

“The two armed men then left.”

Barrenger said that at the time of the murder, Jones was living in a halfway house in downtown Vancouver. He signed out before the slaying and returned about 20 minutes afterwards.

And Stewart was living in Coquitlam with a man named Jesse Adkins, who Barrenger suggested had a role in the murder though has never been charged.

“You will hear about Jesse Adkins in this trial,” he said. “You will hear that Jesse Adkins has not been seen in years and can’t be located.”

Both Stewart and Jones have pleaded not guilty.

The trial is expected to last eight weeks.


Guildford Bay employee stabbed trying to stop alleged shoplifter in Surrey

Bay staffer stabbed trying to stop alleged shoplifter in Surrey

A 29-year-old man is in hospital in Surrey after he was stabbed trying to stop an alleged shoplifter at a Surrey mall Tuesday night.

Photograph by: Rachel Psutka , Leader-Post

METRO VANCOUVER – A 29-year-old man is in hospital in Surrey after he was stabbed trying to stop an alleged shoplifter at a Surrey mall Tuesday night.

Surrey RCMP say the incident happened at around 6 p.m. in the area of 10355 152nd Street, Surrey.

Mounties received a call about a stabbing in the parking lot of The Bay department store, located at the Surrey Guildford Town Centre Mall.

When they arrived, officers found the man suffering from stab wounds to his arms and upper body.

RCMP say he was taken to a local hospital in stable condition with non-life threatening injuries.

Investigators say the victim, who is an employee of The Bay, was trying to stop an alleged shoplifter and a fight broke out.

During the altercation, police say the victim sustained multiple stab wounds. The Bay staffer held onto the suspect until mall security arrived to assist.

A 34-year-old man has been arrested and charges are pending, say investigators.

Meanwhile, Vancouver police are also investigating a stabbing early Wednesday morning. Shortly after midnight, police responded to a fight that broke out between three men at Broadway and Commercial Drive.

A 43-year-old man was taken to hospital with non-life threatening stab wounds. The other two men fled the scene.

VPD spokesman Sgt. Randy Fincham says the motive for the attack is unknown, and no arrests have been made.


B.C. budget offers help to buyers of new homes

Finance Minister Mike De Jong’s budget outlined $47.5 billion in spending for the 2016/17 fiscal year, starting April 1, with a projected $264 million surplus. It’s the fourth consecutive surplus budget for the Liberal government

B.C. budget offers help to buyers of new homes

A truss is lowered into place at a new home construction site on Burke Mountain in Coquitlam.

Photograph by: Jason Payne Jason Payne , PNG

VICTORIA — Premier Christy Clark responded to intense public pressure to fix Metro Vancouver’s housing affordability crisis Tuesday with a budget that offered a tax break on new homes and the promise to start collecting data on foreign buyers.

But real estate, business and academic experts say the modest changes will do little to spur new construction, slow price hikes or help most buyers get into the market.

The changes will see buyers save up to $13,000 from B.C.’s property transfer tax if they purchase a newly built home, condo or townhouse valued under $750,000, as long as they are Canadian residents who live in the home for at least a year. The tax break starts today.

It’s designed to boost the supply of new home construction and give people a helping hand to enter the market, said Finance Minister Mike de Jong. But it won’t cool the market enough for those who say they can’t afford to live in the Lower Mainland.

“If by cool you mean actually reduce the value of people’s major asset, their home, clearly we were not interested in taking that step,” said de Jong.

The tax break will be offset by a one-per-cent increase to the property transfer tax, to three per cent, on luxury homes that sell for more than $2 million.

Critics say the budget amounts to half-measures from a government that’s stuck between not wanting to intervene directly in the housing market and needing to look responsive to public frustration.

“It’s an attempt to try to be seen to be doing something; but lets face it, it’s not going to change affordability in Metro Vancouver very much at all,” said Jim Brander, a professor at the University of B.C.’s Sauder School of Business.

“It is possible to do things — there are big steps that could be taken,” Brander said, pointing as an example to moves in other countries to disallow foreign ownership and perhaps cause losses on people’s real estate investments.

“That would have a big impact, but that’s a huge step that Christy Clark has said, of course, she doesn’t want to take.”

Instead, Brander said, the government is giving a small measure of tax relief to some buyers.

“Relative to the cost of housing, what’s that going to do? Not much.”

Opposition NDP leader John Horgan said the government has made only “cosmetic changes around the edges” on housing and ignored a recent suggestion from university professors to create a B.C. Housing Affordability Fund built upon a 1.5-per-cent real estate surcharge on foreign owners.

There will be years of lag before new homes are built, even though the tax break is an overall good idea, said Cameron Muir, chief economist for the B.C. Real Estate Association.

“It will probably be effective to some extent but I don’t think you’re going to see a dramatic change,” added Ken Peacock, B.C. Business Council’s chief economist. It would be “very difficult” for government to change the housing market prices, he said.

The affordability measures were “helpful but modest,” said Jon Stovell, president at Reliance Properties and the incoming chair of the board at the Urban Development Institute.

“They’re certainly going in the right direction,” Stovell said, noting that about 80 per cent of non-single-family housing sold in the region is under the $750,000 price.

But Stovell said the new luxury tax rate for homes over $2 million was “a little bit disappointing” because the charge could end up being paid by developers purchasing land for new condos or townhomes and then passing on those costs to buyers of individual units.

Even as government sought to cool the housing market, it is enjoying a financial windfall from the property transfer tax it charges on sales. Revenue from that tax has jumped more than 40 per cent above last year’s expectations and is on track to bring in $1.5 billion in the current fiscal year — surpassing the revenue earned by the carbon tax.

Though some analysts continue to blame wealthy foreign buyers as one of the main drivers of rising home prices, the finance minister said he’s yet to see concrete data on how foreign ownership is impacting B.C.’s housing market. De Jong said he’d implement new rules that anyone buying real estate in the province will need to disclose their citizenship or country of residence, but wouldn’t speculate on whether that lays the groundwork for a future tax on foreign ownership or vacant homes.

“Before we were prepared to take a step of that significance we felt obligated to ensure we have better information,” he said.

De Jong said the province would also step up the sharing of information with the federal government, which is also trying to get a handle on foreign real estate investment and the avoidance of taxes.

The housing file was just one example of how Tuesday’s budget was mainly an attempt by the premier to do “political damage control” on high-profile files that she wants to clear off her plate in the run-up to next year’s election, said University of Victoria professor Michael Prince.

That includes $217 million over three years in additional funding for the Ministry of Children and Family Development, which has been rocked by several deaths and suicides involving children in care.

“This is an investment in trying to address some of those crises, and I suspect some of them will continue to flare up,” he said.

Next year’s budget, which will land three months before the May provincial election, will likely contain more sweeping and substantive changes to issues like housing affordability and rising Medical Services Plan premiums, said Prince.

Government exempted children from MSP rates in Tuesday’s budget, but once again raised rates for adults, adding hundreds of dollars a year to the costs of many families. A promised overhaul to what the premier has called an “antiquated” and unfair MSP system failed to materialize.

Her government did increase the disability income assistance rate for the first time in nine years, boosting the monthly rate by $77 to $983, effective Sept. 1. But those already receiving bus passes or transit assistance will get a lesser increase. The province’s overall welfare rate did not change, continuing a trend from the premier to target financial relief for certain groups without increasing overall assistance rates for the larger population.

The $47.5-billion 2016/17 budget estimated a projected $264-million surplus in the fiscal year starting April 1.

Education funding remained mostly frozen, while health care spending is set to increase by almost three per cent to $19.6 billion — or 41 per cent of total government spending.


Celine Dion’s castle-like $25.5-million Laval mansion on a private island has sold, reports say

Céline Dion's former home on a private island near Laval sold for $25.5 million

SOTHEBY’SCéline Dion’s former home on a private island near Laval sold for $25.5 million

The most expensive property on the Montreal-area resale market — the former home of Celine Dion — has sold, according to a report. The asking price was $25.5 million.

The castle near Laval had been on sale for more than two years. In 2013, the asking price was a cool $29,655,500 — listed with as many fives as possible because it was the lucky number of Dion and René Angélil. Her husband and manager died one month ago after a long battle with cancer.


HandoutInformal dining room and family room with magnificent built-ins, with integrated media components and access to the terrace and yard. Céline Dion’s former home on a private island near Laval sold for $25.5 million.

The French Normand-style chateau is on a private island between Laval and Boisbriand, Ile Gagnon. There are six bedrooms and nine bathrooms.

“Yes, the house is sold, and that’s all I can tell you, out of respect for Ms. Dion,” a Sotheby’s spokesperson told La Presse.

Boudoir with double height ceilings, fireplace with decorative mantle and an elegant staircase leading to a soaking tub. Céline Dion’s former home on a private island near Laval sold for $25.5 million.


HandoutCéline Dion’s former home on a private island near Laval sold for $25.5 million.

HandoutCéline Dion’s former home on a private island near Laval sold for $25.5 million.

SOTHEBY’SFor the ultimate entertaining experience, a most stunning stone vaulted wine cellar with integrated tasting room seating 10. Céline Dion’s former home on a private island near Laval sold for $25.5 million.

HandoutLuxurious master bedroom suites with sumptuous ensuite bathrooms, spacious walk-ins closets, Juliette balconies and oversized doors and windows overlooking the water. Céline Dion’s former home on a private island near Laval sold for $25.5 million.

HandoutThe formal dining room seats eighteen, with beautiful terrace and water views. Céline Dion’s former home on a private island near Laval sold for $25.5 million.

HandoutGrand entry foyer opens onto three levels with magnificent winding staircase and inlayed marble floors. Céline Dion’s former home on a private island near Laval sold for $25.5 million.

HandoutThis custom la Cornue kitchen is perfect for entertaining and boasts spectacular water views. Céline Dion’s former home on a private island near Laval sold for $25.5 million.

HandoutFabulous wood-panelled library with custom fireplace surround, built-ins, coffered ceiling and gleaming custom wood floors. Céline Dion’s former home on a private island near Laval sold for $25.5 million.

HandoutLuxurious master bedroom suites with sumptuous ensuite bathrooms, spacious walk-ins closets, Juliette balconies and oversized doors and windows overlooking the water. Céline Dion’s former home on a private island near Laval sold for $25.5 million.

HandoutThe mansion pool house. Céline Dion’s former home on a private island near Laval sold for $25.5 million.

HandoutBoudoir with double height ceilings, fireplace with decorative mantle and an elegant staircase leading to a soaking tub. Céline Dion’s former home on a private island near Laval sold for $25.5 million.

Premier Clark announces upcoming changes to the public service

Premier Christy Clark announced upcoming changes to key positions in the BC Public Service:

After 27 years of serving the Province, John Dyble, deputy minister to the Premier, cabinet secretary and head of the public service, will retire effective March 24, 2016.

Dyble’s public service career started in Smithers in 1980, as an engineering student on a survey crew.  Nine years later, after working as a consulting engineer in the developing world, Dyble formally joined the BC Public Service. Establishing himself as a leader on major B.C. infrastructure projects, Dyble rose to become deputy minister of transportation and infrastructure. He was deputy minister of health, responsible for developing and delivering government’s health innovation agenda, when appointed deputy minister to Premier Clark in 2011.

During his five-year tenure as lead deputy, Dyble helped manage and deliver key government priorities such as successive balanced budgets, the BC Jobs Plan, Crown corporation reviews and long-term labour agreements. As head of the public service, Dyble has worked to build a strong corporate executive and maintain the BC Public Service as one of Canada’s top employers.

“John’s work, over a remarkable career, has literally spanned and helped to build our province,” said Premier Clark. “I thank John for what he has accomplished for British Columbia, and I am honoured to have had him as my partner in the public service for the past five years. He leaves the BC Public Service in excellent hands.”

Kim Henderson, currently deputy minister of finance and secretary to treasury board, will become deputy minister to the Premier, cabinet secretary and head of the public service effective March 25, 2016.

Henderson joined the BC Public Service in 1996. Before her appointment to the Ministry of Finance, Henderson was deputy minister of corporate initiatives (Office of the Premier) where she provided leadership on numerous cross-ministry files and served as the public service lead for the government’s Core Review initiative. Previously, Henderson served as deputy minister of labour and deputy minister of citizens’ services and open government (now the Ministry of Technology and Citizen Services) leading the development of B.C.’s open government strategy which won the IPAC/Deloitte Public Sector Leadership Award. Henderson holds a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Victoria.

Athana Mentzelopoulos, currently deputy minister of jobs, tourism, and skills training and ministry responsible for labour (JTST), will become deputy minister of finance and secretary to treasury board effective March 25, 2016.

Mentzelopoulos first joined the BC Public Service in 2004, serving as deputy minister responsible for intergovernmental relations, public affairs and board resourcing and development (BRDO) until 2009. After serving as director general of consumer product safety for the government of Canada, she rejoined the BC Public Service in 2011 as deputy minister of strategic priorities (Office of the Premier), followed by deputy minister for government communications and public engagement (including responsibility for intergovernmental relations and BRDO).

Mentzelopoulos was appointed deputy minister of JTST in 2014, responsible for developing government’s economic development policy. She holds a master of arts degree from the University of Victoria.

2016 speech from the Throne outlines government’s economic agenda

“Steadfast. Resilient. And the courage to get to yes,” – The Honourable Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, Throne Speech 2016. Her Honour, remarking on the qualities that will ensure the continued economic success of our province. Read the speech in its entirety here,

In her speech from the Throne today, Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon outlined the government’s agenda to create jobs and opportunity throughout British Columbia, and continue to grow a diverse economy to sustain and expand the vital services that British Columbians depend on.

In the session ahead, government will continue to stand up for British Columbians, and for the communities and industries that not only build this province, but drive prosperity.

By focusing on key sectors of the economy and expanding new markets in clean energy and technology with British Columbia’s Asia-Pacific partners, the government has the opportunity to eliminate the operating debt in just four years, paving the path towards a debt-free BC.

“With a strong, diverse and growing economy, and four consecutive balanced budgets, we can plan for future growth, create a climate where job-creating businesses can thrive – while continuing to make investments in our future,” said Premier Christy Clark. “And while we’re planning for future growth, a growing economy means we also have the ability to make a difference in people’s lives today.”

During the spring session, government will also focus on building safe, thriving communities, continue to work with the federal government to secure the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement, and ensure First Nations are equal partners in B.C.’s growing economy.

Extension provided for Emergency Program Act review

VICTORIA – The opportunity to provide input into the future of the Emergency

Program Act (EPA) has been extended until April 22, 2016, to allow more time

for feedback.


Government’s desire to encourage a robust and thoughtful dialogue on the EPA

prompted the extension after hearing the desire expressed by some

stakeholders for additional time to provide a more thorough and meaningful

response, particularly in cases where local authorities required more time

to get the EPA discussion paper on their counsel docket.


On Jan. 11, 2016, the public engagement website at opened, initially with a six-

week window for feedback.


‘Prepared and Resilient’ is a discussion paper on the legislative framework

for emergency management in British Columbia that follows up with ongoing

consultations done across government. It is intended to support an engaging

consultation with stakeholders about emergency management legislation in

B.C. The EPA requires local authorities, ministries, Crown corporations,

government agencies, and others to develop plans and programs to prepare

for and respond to emergencies and disasters in the province.


While best practices in the field of emergency management in B.C. and

elsewhere have evolved significantly over the past two decades, the

Emergency Program Act in B.C. has remained largely unchanged since its

introduction in 1993. It has never been the subject of a full and open

review until now.


This consultation acknowledges recent changes some other Canadian

jurisdictions have made to modernize their emergency management laws. The

engagement has also been shaped by findings and recommendations of the 2014

earthquake preparedness reports of the British Columbia’s auditor general

and Henry Renteria.


You can provide feedback by joining the online discussion or sending your

comments by email. The opportunity for comment is open until April 22, 2016,

at 4 p.m. Government also has invited key stakeholders to make formal

stakeholder submissions that will be made available publicly as they are



The input and feedback that will be received from interested British

Columbians on the challenges and proposals outlined in the discussion paper

will best inform the development of any changes to the law, creating

legislation that supports a prepared and resilient province.





College to have more tools to protect pharmacy patients

VICTORIA – British Columbia has introduced amendments to the Pharmacy

Operations and Drug Scheduling Act, which will give the College of

Pharmacists of B.C. greater ability to protect patients from unscrupulous

pharmacy owners.

Health Minister Terry Lake moved first reading of the Pharmacy Operations

and Drug Scheduling Amendment Act today.

In 2015, the college approached the Ministry of Health and asked the

ministry to give it better legislative tools for regulating people

involved in the community pharmacy industry.

The college is responsible for regulating and registering pharmacists in

B.C., as well as licensing pharmacies to operate. However, it does not

currently have the ability to regulate to the appropriate degree pharmacy

owners, directors or other non-pharmacists involved in running the


While the vast majority of people involved in community pharmacies are

honest and ethical, the college reports an increase in recent years of

unscrupulous pharmacy practices – for example, kickbacks to methadone

maintenance clients, running dirty, unsafe pharmacies and breaking

PharmaCare billing rules.

The proposed amendments allow the college to require information from the

pharmacy about all owners and other people involved in running a

pharmacy. They also will allow the college to refuse to issue, renew or

reinstate a pharmacy license if pharmacy owners, directors or officers:

* have limits imposed by the college’s discipline committee that prevent

them from owning or managing a pharmacy;

* have been convicted of a recent, relevant crime;

* have committed a billing contravention against PharmaCare;

* have recently had a judgment entered against them in court regarding

pharmacy practice, drugs or devices;

* have recently had their registration as a pharmacist suspended or

cancelled by the college or any other body that regulates pharmacists; or

* have recently had limits or conditions imposed on their registration as

a pharmacists by their professional regulatory body.


The college can also choose to impose conditions on a pharmacy licence.


These amendments will help the college prevent unsuitable people from

owning or managing, directly or indirectly, community pharmacies in

British Columbia.


The amendments also dovetail with the work the Ministry of Health has

done in the past year, under the Provider Regulation of the

Pharmaceutical Services Act. That regulation allows the ministry to

better enforce the rules around pharmacies billing PharmaCare, and to

stop doing business with pharmacies that do not meet those standards. To

date, 28 pharmacies are no longer able to be enrolled in PharmaCare as a

result of the 2015 regulation changes.