Comox Valley creates local flavours for B.C.

From water buffalo yogurt and gelato to estate-grown wines and distilled honey-based spirits, the agrifoods industry continues to thrive in Courtenay and Comox.

The provincial government’s Buy Local Program helps B.C. fisheries, farmers and food processors promote their products and supports food-supply security in British Columbia. The program is providing up to $44,000 of funding to several companies located in the Comox Valley to help increase sales and brand awareness.

Wayward Distillation House is bringing Canada’s only honey-based spirits to shelves all over the province. To stand out from commercial distilleries, the company sources local, natural ingredients from the Comox Valley to create Wayward distilled spirits. The use of B.C. honey adds subtle and intricate flavours to its products, while supporting local growers and producers.

Local winery, 40 Knots Vineyard and Estate Winery is promoting their Stall Speed non-estate brand of wines to British Columbians who are looking for hotter-climate grapes that cannot be grown in the Comox Valley’s cool climate. With ethically and traditionally farmed Okanagan grapes, the wine is produced and bottled in the Comox Valley. 40 Knots is not only known for its wines, but also for the scenery and tasting room.

Water buffalo milk products continue to make waves in the agrifoods industry, with McClintock’s Farm being on the forefront of producing water buffalo yogurt and gelato. The Courtenay based operation is one of three operating water buffalo dairies, offering British Columbians new options for old favourites.

The Buy Local program has received $8 million in B.C. government funding since 2012 to increase sales of locally grown and processed agrifood and seafood products within the province.

The B.C. government’s Agrifood and Seafood Strategic Growth Plan supports the building of domestic markets and maintaining a secure food supply. The plan is a component of the BC Jobs Plan, and the roadmap to leading the agrifoods sector to becoming a $15-billion-a-year industry by 2020.

The provincial government’s Buy Local program is administered by the Investment Agriculture Foundation of British Columbia. Applications are available at: http://iafbc.ca/funding-opportunities/buy-local/

Governments of Canada and British Columbia investing in Highway 16 improvements

The Government of Canada and the Province of British Columbia (B.C.) today announced $37,737,949 to improve Highway 16.

From visiting friends and relatives to getting goods to market, we rely on our roads, bridges and highways to support a vibrant economy and great quality of life. Investing in modern transportation infrastructure will help create jobs and grow the middle class now, while building the foundation for a strong economic future.

“One of the commitments we made in B.C. on the Move was to increase the number of passing lanes on highways 16 and 37. We’ve already built three and this new investment means five more safe opportunities to pass slower vehicles. Another one of our provincial priorities is to provide better access into communities, and upgrading the junction of highway 16 and 37 will ease congestion and improve traffic flow through Terrace.” says Todd Stone, B.C. Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure.

That is why the Government of Canada and the Province of British Columbia (B.C.) today announced $37,737,949 to improve Highway 16. The project includes the construction of five additional passing lanes along Highway 16, as well as an upgrade to the junction of Highway 16 and 37 in Terrace, where there is currently a four-way stop.

“The Government of Canada is working in close partnership with British Columbia to ensure we make smart infrastructure investments that create safer roads for travellers, help grow the middle class, and promote sustainable development. By supporting improvements to Highway 16, we are helping local businesses move their goods to market and fostering long-term prosperity in the region for years to come.” Said The Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities.

Once completed, the project will improve safety and traffic flow for all highway users, including local residents, tourists and commercial drivers by providing additional opportunities to safely pass slower-moving vehicles. It will also support future economic development in the region by contributing to a more efficient transportation network in northern British Columbia.

Wi-Fi coming to Highway 16 rest area near Mt. Terry Fox

Free, public Wi-Fi will soon be installed at the Highway 16 Mt. Terry Fox rest area six kilometres east of Tete Jaune, thanks to a partnership between the Province, TELUS and ICBC, announced MLA for Prince George-Valemount, Shirley Bond. Approximately 81% of B.C.’s 177 rest areas are wheelchair accessible and  72% are open year-round.

“This is not only about providing important support for travellers and commercial truck drivers, it also demonstrates this government’s commitment to improving safety, comfort and convenience at rest areas throughout the province and this kind of connectivity is an important part of that,” said Bond. “This rest area, along with the other four locations that we announced, demonstrates that partnerships like this one with TELUS and ICBC deliver valuable services to British Columbians.”

In total, 25 rest areas throughout the province will have Wi-Fi installed. The following rest areas will have Wi-Fi installed by the spring of 2017, with the additional 20 sites being delivered in the coming years.

  • Britton Creek   Hwy 5 – 67km south of Merritt
  • Mt Terry Fox    Hwy 16 – 6km east of Tete Jaune
  • Galena Bay      Hwy 23 – 49km north of Nakusp
  • Glacier View    Hwy 16 – 7km north of Smithers
  • Taylor River     Hwy 4 – 37km west of Port Alberni

Travellers will be able to identify which rest areas have Wi-Fi by the Wi-Fi graphic on the rest area sign. For an example of what the signs look like, click here: https://flic.kr/p/M5eykS or here: https://flic.kr/p/M5ey8Y

The expansion of public Wi-Fi at rest stops illustrates that technology and innovation supports a wide range of industries throughout British Columbia. Helping businesses such as commercial trucking companies grow is an important part of the #BCTECH Strategy and a key component of the BC Jobs Plan to strengthen British Columbia’s diverse innovation economy.

As part of B.C. on the Move, the province’s 10-year transportation strategy, the ministry is committed to delivering up to 30 rest-area improvement projects per year.

Meeting strengthens India-B.C. partnerships

Minister of Finance Michael de Jong met with Indian Finance Minister, Minister of Corporate Affairs in the cabinet of India, Arun Jaitley, today in New Delhi to discuss ways to continue to strengthen economic ties between India and British Columbia.

“I was impressed by Minister Jaitley’s interest in mutual economic investments in both India and Canada by companies, such as Indian Oil. India is an important economy with a young and growing middle class that represents an important opportunity for B.C. partnership, trade and investment, particularly in the areas of forestry, energy, international education and clean technology,” says Minister of Finance Michael de Jong.

The meeting builds on bilateral discussions and activities since the visit by Prime Minister Modi to Vancouver in 2015, where the prime minister and senior Indian government officials showed great support and enthusiasm for formalizing relations between India and British Columbia. Meeting topics included: the recent approval by the Canadian federal government of the Pacific North West LNG project; the successful issuance of B.C.’s Indian Rupee (INR) bond; and future opportunities to expand two-way trade and investment.

 

By 2030, India is expected to be the world’s third-largest economy behind the United States and China. B.C. exports to India have jumped from $201 million in 2011 to $623 million in 2015, making India B.C.’s fifth-largest trading partner. Real GDP in India was 7.2% in 2014, and estimated to grow to 7.6% in 2015, and in 2016 is expected to be 7.4%.

 

The Government of British Columbia has been actively working to make India and B.C. long-term partners in economic and social prosperity. It’s a strategy that’s focused on:

  • Building the foundation of the India-B.C. relationship based on mutual economic growth;
  • Identifying targeted opportunities for B.C. to help address specific needs of the Indian market and;
  • Making India top-of-mind among B.C.’s exporters.

On Sept. 9, 2016, British Columbia was the first foreign government to issue a bond in the Indian Rupee (INR) offshore market – or what is known colloquially as a Masala bond. The bond issue demonstrates the Province’s confidence in the outlook for India, and positions B.C. to participate in internationalization of the INR and India’s economy.

In addition, with Budget 2016, the Government of British Columbia committed $5 million over three years to promote a stronger B.C. wood brand in India. This investment is helping B.C. companies establish themselves as the world’s leading suppliers of sustainably harvested wood products to a market that includes the world’s largest middle class.

British Columbia’s work to build a strong relationship with India has proven successful. Earlier this week, Air Canada launched a direct flight from Vancouver to Delhi, demonstrating that India and B.C. are closer than ever before. This flight now provides a direct link for businesses to come together, and families to stay connected.

Meeting strengthens India-B.C. partnerships

Minister of Finance Michael de Jong met with Indian Finance Minister, Minister of Corporate Affairs in the cabinet of India, Arun Jaitley,  in New Delhi to discuss ways to continue to strengthen economic ties between India and British Columbia.
“I was impressed by Minister Jaitley’s interest in mutual economic investments in both India and Canada by companies, such as Indian Oil. India is an important economy with a young and growing middle class that represents an important opportunity for B.C. partnership, trade and investment, particularly in the areas of forestry, energy, international education and clean technology, ” says Minister of Finance Michael de Jong.

The meeting builds on bilateral discussions and activities since the visit by Prime Minister Modi to Vancouver in 2015, where the prime minister and senior Indian government officials showed great support and enthusiasm for formalizing relations between India and British Columbia. Meeting topics included: the recent approval by the Canadian federal government of the Pacific North West LNG project; the successful issuance of B.C.’s Indian Rupee (INR) bond; and future opportunities to expand two-way trade and investment.

By 2030, India is expected to be the world’s third-largest economy behind the United States and China. By 2030, India is expected to be the world’s third-largest economy behind the United States and China.

The Government of British Columbia has been actively working to make India and B.C. long-term partners in economic and social prosperity. It’s a strategy that’s focused on:

  • Building the foundation of the India-B.C. relationship based on mutual economic growth;
  • Identifying targeted opportunities for B.C. to help address specific needs of the Indian market and;
  • Making India top-of-mind among B.C.’s exporters.

On Sept. 9, 2016, British Columbia was the first foreign government to issue a bond in the Indian Rupee (INR) offshore market – or what is known colloquially as a Masala bond. The bond issue demonstrates the Province’s confidence in the outlook for India, and positions B.C. to participate in internationalization of the INR and India’s economy.

B.C. exports to India have jumped from $201 million in 2011 to $623 million in 2015, making India B.C.’s fifth-largest trading partner.  Real GDP in India was 7.2% in 2014, and estimated to grow to 7.6% in 2015, and in 2016 is expected to be 7.4%.

In addition, with Budget 2016, the Government of British Columbia committed $5 million over three years to promote a stronger B.C. wood brand in India. This investment is helping B.C. companies establish themselves as the world’s leading suppliers of sustainably harvested wood products to a market that includes the world’s largest middle class.

British Columbia’s work to build a strong relationship with India has proven successful. Earlier this week, Air Canada launched a direct flight from Vancouver to Delhi, demonstrating that India and B.C. are closer than ever before. This flight now provides a direct link for businesses to come together, and families to stay connected.

Surrey RCMP celebrated by business community

Surrey, October 6, 2016 Surrey RCMP officers, auxiliaries, support staff, and volunteers were recognized at the Surrey Board of Trade’s 20th annual Police Officer of the Year Awards for their exemplary service and commitment to making Surrey a safer place to live and do business.

Sergeant Lyndsay O’Ruaric was named this year’s Police Officer of the Year (as nominated by the community) for her work leading the detachment’s Special Victims Unit team that works at Sophie’s Place Child Advocacy Centre. Sgt. O’Ruaric was recognized for her commitment to the long-term care and support of vulnerable children who have experienced trauma.

Constable Chris Jones was named this year’s Police Officer of the Year (as nominated by his peers) for his passion for justice and genuine care for the vulnerable and exploited of our community as a member of the Surrey RCMP’s Special Victims Unit.

Other award winners included:

  • Auxiliary Constable Mark Elson – Auxiliary Constable of the Year
  • Jody Nelson – Municipal Employee of the Year
  • D’Arcy Nelson – Volunteer of the Year
  • Priority Target Offender Unit – Arnold Silzer Community Policing Initiative Award
  • Domestic Violence Unit – Police Team Award
  • Sophie’s Place Child Advocacy Centre – Police and Business Partnership Award

I am very proud of the work of this detachment and the community in continuously striving to create a healthier and safer Surrey, says Assistant Commissioner Bill Fordy, Lower Mainland District Commander. The strong partnership that exists between the police and the local business community here is evident. I thank the Surrey Board of Trade for hosting this event for 20 years and the businesses that have supported this event, year after year.

The relationship between business and the RCMP is important because we are both working towards a healthy and safe community for our residents and businesses, says Anita Patil Huberman, CEO, Surrey Board of Trade. The Surrey Board of Trade celebrates the work of the Surrey RCMP because they do excellent work in ensuring the safety of our city and our businesses. Their jobs are not easy. Their innovation, work ethic, and cross-collaboration make the Surrey RCMP leaders in Canada. In this 20th anniversary, the Surrey Board of Trade is proud to celebrate the Surrey RCMP in this unique event in Canada.

Congratulations to all award winners and nominees. Partial proceeds from this event go towards the RCMP Youth Academy.

Former Miss Washington among women who say Trump groped them

The women say they felt compelled to speak after Trump denied ever engaging in such conduct. One says she encountered him on a plane, the other in Trump Tower.

Ecstatic Coquitlam mayor rides SkyTrain to city centre after long wait

BY JENNIFER SALTMAN

On Tuesday, Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart had the opportunity to do something he’s been waiting to do for decades — ride the SkyTrain into the centre of his city.

“This is an exhilarating day,” Stewart said. “We’ve been waiting for the opening of SkyTrain to Coquitlam Centre for all of my adult life. It’s been 25, 30 years in the making and we’re just ecstatic.”

Stewart was among a small group of politicians and reporters who rode the new Evergreen Line Tuesday from Burquitlam station through Port Moody to the terminus at Lafarge Lake. Lougheed Town Centre station, the line’s first stop, was not included in the tour. The $1.43-billion, 11-kilometre line is expected to start running sometime before Christmas — a specific start date has not been revealed.

The ride began with a brief run above North Road before the train dipped underground for a two-kilometre trip through a tunnel.

Since construction began in 2013 there has been cause for several delays, including four sinkholes that appeared while the tunnel was being bored between Coquitlam and Port Moody.

Minister responsible for TransLink Peter Fassbender said constructing the tunnel was the project’s biggest challenge.

“Going through that tunnel you can see what a massive project that was,” he said. “At the end of the day, I know people are going to forget that we were delayed in the opening because of the tunnelling, but they’re going to be absolutely thrilled when they get on these cars and are able to travel throughout the entire region.”

Cost overruns for the tunnel problems and others that occurred during construction will be picked up by SNC-Lavalin, which led the consortium that built the line and has a fixed-price contract with the province, Fassbender said.

After exiting the tunnel just east of Barnet Highway, the train travelled at grade through Port Moody toward Coquitlam Centre station. From there, it became elevated for the last two stations: Lincoln and Lafarge Lake-Douglas.

“I thought it was fabulous — amazing actually,” Fassbender said while standing on the platform at the final station, with Douglas College and Town Centre Park in the distance.

“I thought it was fantastic to actually travel along something that we watched come out of the ground, and to see the development.

Politicians said the train will provide opportunities for growth in the region, promote healthier lifestyles by getting people out of their cars and make it easier for residents to get to Vancouver because they no longer have to rely on a bus.

The trip from Lafarge Lake-Douglas to Lougheed Town Centre takes 15 minutes. Going to Commercial-Broadway will take 30 minutes, and the ride to Waterfront will take 40 to 45 minutes. The line is expected to carry 70,000 passengers per day by 2021.

“It’s thrilling to ride this brand-new system,” remarked Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam MP Ron McKinnon. “It’s fresh, it’s out of the box, it runs smoothy, it’s fast, it’s efficient. It’s going to make a great change for our community.”

Construction is expected to be completed in the next couple of weeks, at which point TransLink will take control of the system for final operational testing. When that’s done, an opening date will be set.

“We’re looking forward to it,” said Stewart. “It’s going to be a great Christmas present.”

 

Calgary man who played role in $23M Concrete Equities fraud won’t see jail

By KEVIN MARTIN

The Calgary man who played a part in a $23-million investment scheme won’t serve time behind bars for his role in the fraud.

Provincial court Judge Joanne Durant on Wednesday agreed with a joint Crown and defence submission to hand Varun (Vinny) Aurora a conditional sentence for his participation in a fraud run by Concrete Equities Inc. (CEI).

Durant said during the first six months of Aurora’s sentence of two years less a day, he will be under house arrest.

He’ll have to abide by a nightly curfew for the following 14 months and must perform 240 hours of community service, the judge ruled.

Aurora pleaded guilty last week to fraud over $5,000 in a scheme focused on Mexican real estate investments.

One of those scammed was his own father, who lost the largest amount — $901,000 — in the fraud run by CEI that roped in 1,200 investors

Durant said there were several mitigating factors which justified sparing Aurora jail time, primarily the fact he pleaded guilty and his role in the fraud was limited.

But she also noted his part in the scheme left many victims in its wake.

She said statements provided by nearly 100 victims to the court spoke of “betrayal, anger, embarrassment, violation (and) shame.

“And in one case suicidal thoughts,” Durant said.

“Some have lost their homes.”

Durant said that unlike so many other fraud cases, however, Aurora didn’t benefit financially for his part in the scam.

The plot, which began in 2007, sold investor units in a Mexican development known as the El Golfo project, whose purchase price Concrete Equities greatly inflated for investors.

The company, said Crown prosecutor Steven Johnston at last week’s sentencing hearing, “purchased it for less and just pocketed the money.”

“It was an advanced hucksters’ scheme that sold people real estate that absolutely didn’t exist.”

Some of the investors’ cash was also moved into other investments not known to them, while the supposed ringleader, David Nelson Humeniuk, allegedly pocketed $1 million.

While Aurora‘s role was more supportive than leading, he signed off on offering memos and was “willfully blind” to the scam, said an agreed statement of facts.

It also stated “to the extent that money which was raised for the El Golfo project was being transferred or lent to other CEI businesses, Mr. Aurora was an officer and should have known about those transactions.”

Durant noted that since the losses exceeded $1-million, Aurora would be looking at an automatic penitentiary term today because of changes in the legislation made after the crime was committed.

BC NDP Director Raj Sihota becomes first South Asian woman to hold top staff position

News Talk 980 CKNW | Vancouver’s News.

Vancouver’s Talk

Bailey Nicholson

Raj Sihota is now the first woman of South Asian descent to hold the top staff position at a major political party in BC.

Sihota is Provincial Director of the BC NDP as the party prepares for the upcoming May 2017 election. She was appointed in August.

According to a release by the party, Sihota has played key roles in many elections. Some of which include the recent by-election wins in Coquitlam and Vancouver where MLAs Melanie Mark and Jodie Wickens were elected.

She says it’s important to see South Asian women in powerful positions.

“South Asian women of my generation are making a difference in all parts of our society… We are professionals, leading businesses and now running political party offices as strategists and administrators.”

In the release, NDP Leader John Horgan says he’s proud of the role that South Asians have played in the BC NDP, and that his party has gone above and beyond to send a positive message to visible minorities.

“All political parties understand the need to field candidates that appeal to their voters, but the NDP has gone a major step further by appointing a visible minority woman to the top staff job. This sends a powerful message to other women of visible minorities that the NDP takes them seriously and values their skills and contributions.”