Monthly Archives: March 2019

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Vancouver City Council votes in favour of tearing down Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts

Vancouver City Council approved the removal of the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts.

Council voted 5-4 in favour of the removal plan, which comes with amendments from Tuesday night’s meeting.

The plan for the viaducts includes expanding Pacific Boulevard and a ramp that will connect Georgia Street to the waterfront; extending Creekside Park into Concord Pacific lands and moving the main flow of traffic from Prior Street to either Malkin or National. The timeline to have the project completed is five years.

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“I feel very good,” said Councillor Geoff Meggs. “I think council and its majority made a really positive decision for the future of the city. This is an area that’s been neglected. It’s been waiting a long time to find its future. Its future should not include the viaducts. It should be a bigger park, it should be better connections, it should be a better traffic arrangement than we have now.”

Councillor George Affleck expressed concerns.

“I think that we have the cost of 200 to 300 million dollars was a real challenge for me. I think that we don’t know where that’s going to come from. It wasn’t clear in the report….It’s just too high for the people of Vancouver.”

While the city is ready to move ahead with the removal of the viaducts, B.C. transportation minister Todd Stone said it’s not a done deal.

Stone pointed out that PavCo–the Crown corporation owned by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure–owns land around the viaducts.

“When you look at the plan, part of the realignment of the new roads would cross over land that is owned by Pavco. It would be a good idea, in my mind, for the City of Vancouver to reach out to the Pavilion Corporation, reach out to the province, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Transportation and have a discussion and a dialogue with us so that our concerns that we have and that PavCo has are very much part of the discussion moving forward.”

On Wednesday evening, Kevin Quinlan, the mayor’s deputy chief of staff, said city staffers  have actually met with PavCo eight times since April of last year to discuss the proposal.

WATCH: Debate over viaduct plan

City staff estimate that land freed up by the removal of the viaducts would be worth more than $100 million. Most of that land is owned by Concord Pacific.

Last week, Charles Gauthier of the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association spoke in favour of the plan, noting that they were “pleasantly surprised” to find the viaducts only handle about 10 per cent of the traffic that comes into the downtown core.

“We thought that number would be considerably higher,” Gauthier told Council.

So where will that traffic go? Council was told by Concord Pacific that while a City Staff report suggests commute times into downtown might increase by three to four minutes, traffic could be improved thanks to a redesigned Pacific Boulevard that will be eight lanes wide in places.

-With files from Paula Baker, Ted Chernecki and Catherine Urquhart


NASA: 99 per cent probability of magnitude-5 or larger quake in L.A.-area

LOS ANGELES – There is a 99.9 per cent chance of a magnitude-5 or greater earthquake striking within three years in the greater Los Angeles area, where a similar sized temblor caused more than $12 million in damage last year, according to a study by NASA and university researchers.

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The study released Tuesday was based on Global Positioning System and airborne radar measurements of how the Earth’s crust was deformed by the magnitude-5.1 quake on March 28, 2014, in La Habra, about 20 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles. The damage included broken water mains and cracked pavement.

By comparison, in 1994 the magnitude-6.7 Northridge earthquake left $25 billion in damage, caused dozens of deaths and injured 9,000 people.

The study looked at a 62-mile radius around the La Habra epicenter. Researchers observed shallow movements of the ground, took into account a deficit in the number of earthquakes expected there and calculated how much strain may remain in deeper faults that are still locked.

While the magnitude-5 quake was found to be extremely likely by April 1, 2018, one of magnitude-6 or higher was pegged at just 35 per cent and the largest potential quake was estimated at 6.3.

READ MORE: Small earthquake strikes west of Port Hardy

Study leader Andrea Donnellan, a geophysicist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said the research is not a prediction.

“It’s a statistical probability that we computed,” she said in an interview.

The U.S. Geological Survey took issue with the study, asserting that it was unclear how the study derived its numbers and that the accepted probability is 85 per cent.

Responding to the criticism, Donnellan said the study’s references to other scientific papers would allow other researchers to reconstruct the process.

According to the most recent Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast, which was published in March and is the basis for the agency’s National Seismic Hazard Maps, the Southern California region has a 100 per cent chance of one or more magnitude-5 or larger quakes and a 93 per cent chance of a 6.7 jolt during the next 30 years.

READ MORE: 6.6 magnitude earthquake strikes off coast of Indonesia

Thousands of older wood and concrete apartment buildings vulnerable to collapse in a major earthquake would get costly upgrades under sweeping retrofitting rules passed this month by the Los Angeles City Council.

Also participating in the NASA-led study were researchers from the University of California, Irvine; Indiana University, Bloomington; UC Davis; and the University of Nevada, Reno.


Hurricane Patricia: Mexico braces for monster Category 5 storm

MANZANILLO, Mexico – Hurricane Patricia headed toward southwestern Mexico Friday as a monster Category 5 storm, the strongest ever in the Western Hemisphere that forecasters said could make a “potentially catastrophic landfall” later in the day.

Residents of a stretch of Mexico’s Pacific Coast dotted with resorts and fishing villages on Thursday boarded up homes and bought supplies ahead of Patricia’s arrival.

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READ MORE: How monster Hurricane Patricia is affecting Mexico-bound flights from Canada

With maximum sustained winds near 325 kph, Patricia is the strongest storm ever recorded in the eastern Pacific or in the Atlantic, said Dave Roberts, a hurricane specialist at the U.S. National Hurricane Center.

Live updates below as Hurricane Patricia comes ashore in Mexico

Patricia’s power was comparable to that of Typhoon Haiyan, which left more than 7,300 dead or missing in the Philippines two years ago, according to the U.N.’s World Meteorological Organization.

Magnitude of Hurricane Patricia shown in colour animation as it bears down on Mexico


Magnitude of Hurricane Patricia shown in colour animation as it bears down on Mexico


Mexico braces for hit from monster Hurricane Patricia


Global Meteorologist Jordan Witzel explains the severity of Hurricane Patricia


Hurricane Patricia casts huge swath over earth as seen from ISS


Hurricane Patricia could be devastating for Mexican cities in its path


The calm before the storm: Businesses, vacationers in Mexico preparing for Hurricane Patricia


Hurricane Patricia cancels flights from Calgary to Mexico


Tourists are evacuating as residents prep for Hurricane Patricia’s landfall in Mexico


Canadian travellers in Puerto Vallarta brace for Hurricane Patricia

In Mexico, officials declared a state of emergency in dozens of municipalities in Colima, Nayarit and Jalisco states that contain the bustling port of Manzanillo and the posh resort of Puerto Vallarta. The governor of Colima ordered schools closed on Friday, when the storm was forecast to make what the Hurricane Center called a “potentially catastrophic landfall.”

Police patrol the beach in Boca de Pascuales, Colima State, Mexico, on October 22, 2015. Fast-moving Patricia grew into an “extremely dangerous” major hurricane off Mexico’s Pacific coast on Thursday, forecasters said.

Hector Guerrero/AFP/Getty Images

According to the 2010 census, there were more than 7.3 million inhabitants in Jalisco state and more than 255,000 in Puerto Vallarta municipality. There were more than 650,000 in Colima state, and more than 161,000 in Manzanillo.

WATCH ABOVE: Images from the International Space Station show the massive category five Hurricane Patricia, that is due to make landfall in Mexico sometime on Friday.

Evacuations were under way in Puerto Vallarta Friday, with officials taking people to 14 shelters, mostly in schools, according to the Jalisco government’s webpage. Exact numbers of those evacuated were not immediately available.

READ MORE: How strong is the ‘potentially catastrophic’ storm?

Roberto Ramirez, the director of Mexico’s National Water Commission, which includes the nation’s meteorological service, said that Hurricane Patricia will be powerful enough to lift up automobiles, destroy homes that are not sturdily built with cement and steel and will be able to drag along people caught outside when the storm strikes.

Ramirez said that the people in the most danger from the hurricane will be those on the coast, especially in the state of Jalisco.

Rain pounded Manzanillo late Thursday while people took last-minute measures ahead of Patricia, which quickly grew from a tropical storm into a Category 5 hurricane, leaving authorities scrambling to make people safe.

At a Wal-Mart in Manzanillo, shoppers filled carts with non-perishables as a steady rain fell outside.

WATCH ABOVE: Teams of police and civil protection officials on Friday warned people along Puerto Vallarta’s waterfront in Mexico to evacuate ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Patricia – said to be the most powerful storm in either the Pacific or Atlantic since records began.

Veronica Cabrera, shopping with her young son, said Manzanillo tends to flood with many small streams overflowing their banks. She said she had taped her windows at home to prevent them from shattering.

Alejandra Rodriguez, shopping with her brother and mother, was buying 10 liters of milk, a large jug of water and items like tuna and canned ham that do not require refrigeration or cooking. The family already blocked the bottoms of the doors at their home to keep water from entering.

READ MORE: Hurricane Patricia strong enough ‘to get a plane in the air and keep it flying’

Manzanillo’s “main street really floods and cuts access to a lot of other streets. It ends up like an island,” Rodriguez said.

In Puerto Vallarta, restaurants and stores taped or boarded-up windows, and residents raced to stores for last-minute purchases ahead of the storm.

Satellite image of Hurricane Patricia, taken on Friday, Oct. 23, 2015.


The Hurricane Center in Miami warned that preparations should be rushed to completion, saying the storm could cause coastal flooding, destructive waves and flash floods.

“This is an extremely dangerous, potentially catastrophic hurricane,” center meteorologist Dennis Feltgen said.

Feltgen said Patricia also poses problems for Texas. Forecast models indicate that after the storm breaks up over land, remnants of its tropical moisture will likely combine with and contribute to heavy rainfall that is already soaking Texas independently of the hurricane, he said.

“It’s only going to make a bad situation worse,” he said.

READ MORE: Satellite photos show gigantic size of Hurricane Patricia. 

In Colima, authorities handed out sandbags to help residents protect their homes from flooding.

By early Friday, Patricia’s maximum sustained winds had increased to 200 mph (325 kph) – a Category 5 storm, the highest designation on the Saffir-Simpson scale used to quantify a hurricane’s wind strength.

Patricia was centered about 145 miles (235 kilometers) southwest of the Pacific resort of Manzanillo early Friday and was moving northwest at 12 mph (19 kph) on a projected track to come ashore between Manzanillo and Puerto Vallarta sometime Friday afternoon or evening.

Some fluctuations in intensity were forecast before then, but the Hurricane Center said it was expected to be an “extremely dangerous” Category 5 storm when it made landfall.

A hurricane warning was in effect for the Mexican coast from San Blas to Punta San Telmo, a stretch that includes Manzanillo and Puerto Vallarta. A broader area was under hurricane watch, tropical storm warning or tropical storm watch.

The Hurricane Center said Patricia was expected to bring rainfall of 6 to 12 inches, with isolated amounts of up to 20 inches in some locations. Tropical storm conditions were expected to reach land late Thursday or early Friday, complicating any remaining preparation work at that point.

“We are calm,” said Gabriel Lopez, a worker at Las Hadas Hotel in Manzanillo. “We don’t know what direction (the storm) will take, but apparently it’s headed this way. … If there is an emergency we will take care of the people. There are rooms that are not exposed to wind or glass.”

Live updates as Hurricane Patricia comes ashore in Mexico


Dartmouth walk brings attention to cold case, violent crime – Halifax

DARTMOUTH, N.S. – Hundreds of people walked together to show unity in the face of issues of violence and crime in northern Dartmouth Wednesday evening.

“Every year, I see it grow,” said Barbara Ward, who is the aunt of Jason MacCullough.

MacCullough was murdered in a local park on Aug. 28, 1999. Halifax Regional Police said the shooting was a random act, and that the 19-year-old had not been involved in crime.

“He didn’t do anything wrong. They just took an innocent life after dark, and no rhyme or reason to it,” Ward said.

ChangSha Night Net

The Dartmouth North Walk Against Violence has been held every year since MacCullough was killed.

“We are trying to mobilize the community to stand up against violence, and take back their streets,” said John Burton, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Halifax.

The gathering, which started at the Dartmouth Boys & Girls Club in the north end, attracted community leaders, residents and police.

“[MacCullough is] with me every step of the way,” said Ward, adding that her family wants the person (or people) responsible for the murder to come forward.

Participants began the walk at about 6:30 p.m., making their way to the park MacCullough died in. The park was renamed Jason MacCullough Memorial Park after his death.

“I’d like you to think about the fact that all of us have choices,” Reverend Kees Zwanenburg said to the crowd, following a moment of silence.

The participants then walked back to the club for more events.

According to police, work is still being done to solve the murder.

“No case is ever put away,” Inspector Don Moser said.


Late goal from Kane helps Sabres come from behind to beat Maple Leafs

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Evander Kane and the Buffalo Sabres brought relentless pressure Wednesday night. The payoff came just in time.

Kane tied it with 4:29 left with his first goal for Buffalo, and the Sabres came back to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 in a shootout.

“We felt we weren’t going to be shutout, and we made that happen,” Kane said.

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Kane tied it on the team’s 33rd shot when he pushed a wrister over Bernier’s shoulder. Buffalo acquired Kane from Winnipeg in February, but he was unable to play until this season after having shoulder surgery.

“We definitely deserved to win that one,” Kane said. “We worked hard for it from the start, got down early but kept battling and were able to get the victory.”

Matt Moulson and Tyler Ennis scored in the shootout, while Chad Johnson made 23 saves as Buffalo improved to 2-4.

P.A. Parenteau scored and Jonathan Bernier made 34 saves as the Maple Leafs fell to 1-3-2.

Buffalo has won six straight at home against the Leafs, part of a 16-1-1 run of home dominance against Toronto.

READ MORE: Price earns second shutout in three games, Semin scores, as Habs top Blues

Buffalo got off to a fast start, but it was Parenteau who opened the scoring when he redirected Roman Polak’s shot from the right point over Johnson’s shoulder at the 1:28 mark.

The game went to 3-on-3 overtime, where Buffalo quickly had a 3-on-1 foiled by Bernier.

Johnson made an acrobatic left pad save to stop Kadri deep into overtime, and Toronto missed two further chances to score.

“It happened so fast I was sort of in desperation mode at that point and I just stuck my leg out,” Johnson said. “You’re just sort of in the moment at that stage of the game.”

In the first, Kane picked up a loose puck to spring a 2-on-1 with rookie Jack Eichel, but elected to make a pass that was pushed away from danger.

The pair was responsible for much of the Sabres’ attack, with 13 of Buffalo’s 35 shots on goal.

“It took us to almost shot 35 to break them,” said Eichel. “And we needed that. Maybe now we’ll get on a roll, and I think this is a team that can do that.”

Bernier made a point-blank stop on Moulson during a Buffalo power play about nine minutes into the period, and then denied Kane moments later.

Off Tyler Ennis’ takeaway at the blue line, Nicolas Deslauriers put a shot past Bernier but off the cross bar.

Buffalo finished the first with a 12-6 advantage in shots.

Toronto took eight of the first nine second-period shots, but Buffalo started to find its form with Nick Spaling in the box for interfering with Johnson.

Bernier stopped five shots on the power play, including a pair of scrums near his crease.

READ MORE: Early goals by Malkin, Maata hand Penguins 2-1 victory over Maple Leafs

Buffalo took control of the third period midway through and raised the Leafs’ ire when Kane plowed through Dion Phaneuf near the blue line, dropping Toronto’s captain to the ice with a high stick.

“I don’t quite understand, we should have been on the power play four minutes in the third and we weren’t at all,” said Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock. “So that’s disappointing, but it’s also part of life.”

Ennis and Cody Franson each had chances to beat Bernier during a possession with about six minutes left, but the Toronto goaltender saved both.

Bernier said his strong performance was in response to Babcock.

“He challenged me behind the doors, too,” Bernier said. “That’s part of the job. I’ve got to be better. You’ve got to take it, you can’t take it too personally.”

NOTES: Toronto outshot Buffalo 3-1 in overtime. … The Sabres placed D Bobby Sanguinetti on waivers earlier Wednesday. … Toronto’s Jake Gardiner missed the game with a minor injury.