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B.C. accepting applications for funds for clean-energy projects

THE Province is accepting applications from local governments, First Nations, Indigenous organizations, not-for-profit and for-profit organizations throughout British Columbia for investments in clean-energy projects.

The projects will support sustainable communities, create good jobs and build back a better, greener, affordable post-pandemic B.C.

The funding will come from the Province and the Government of Canada through the CleanBC Communities Fund. It will support locally owned green infrastructure projects that help communities use clean energy and become more energy efficient.

“Investing in green infrastructure, such as electric-vehicle charging stations or clean-energy projects, is essential to providing our kids and grandkids with a healthy sustainable future,” said Catherine McKenna, federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities. “Together with B.C., we are helping communities in every corner of the province build cleaner, more resilient infrastructure that will make a real difference in people’s lives. Canada’s infrastructure plan invests in thousands of projects, creates jobs across the country and builds stronger communities.”

Starting on Wednesday, August 12, the second intake for funding applications is open for projects that manage renewable energy, improve access to clean-energy transportation, improve energy efficiency of buildings or help generate clean energy to reduce community reliance on fossil fuels.

“Our government is helping communities build cleaner, better infrastructure that will support good jobs for people through new clean-energy projects, better transportation options and more efficient buildings and community spaces,” said George Heyman, B.C.’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “This new round of funding will help us build an economic recovery from COVID-19 with communities and First Nations in every corner of the province, focused on people, our climate commitments and a cleaner, better future for everyone.”

The second intake is supported by $25.9 million in federal funding and $21.5 million in provincial funding, for a combined investment up to $47.4 million in clean infrastructure projects in B.C. communities.

The second intake will add to the first round of federal and provincial funding that committed more than $63 million for CleanBC Communities Fund projects. The successful projects from the first intake will be announced soon.

“We’re working together with communities, First Nations and the federal government to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and build a better future for everyone through CleanBC,” said Selina Robinson, B.C.’s Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “By partnering with all orders of government, we’re making sure people have resilient, clean infrastructure and good job opportunities as we begin our recovery from the economic impacts of COVID-19.”

The Province is administering the CleanBC Communities Fund and will accept funding applications for the second intake until November 12, with approvals expected in 2021.

The personal connection between Biden and Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris Photo: Facebook

PRESUMPTIVE Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden had a personal connection with California Senator Kamala Harris that CNN says led him to choose her as his running mate – and that was Biden’s son, Beau, who died of brain cancer in 2015. Biden often refers to Beau as his soul. Harris was close to the former Delaware attorney general with whom she became friends when they fought national banks during the foreclosure crisis in the 2000s. Biden told his supporters on Tuesday that his son “had enormous respect for her and her work.” He added: “I thought a lot about that as I made this decision. There is no one’s opinion I valued more than Beau’s.”

Abbotsford Police: Lorne Joseph Guilbault wanted

ABBOTSFORD Police are seeking public assistance to locate Lorne Joseph Guilbault, 38, wanted on several outstanding arrest warrants.

Guilbault is wanted for driving while prohibited, breach of probation, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, assault with a weapon, and fail to stop for police.

He is described as 5’6” tall, 150 pounds, with a slim build, brown hair and blue eyes. 

He is also missing all his fingers on both hands.

On July 28, Abbotsford Police patrol officers observed Guilbault getting into the driver’s seat of a vehicle in a local townhouse complex.  The officers were aware that he had outstanding warrants for his arrest and a traffic stop was initiated.  During the traffic stop, he intentionally rammed the police vehicle and hit another parked car with his vehicle as he fled the complex at a high rate of speed, narrowly missing several bystanders and children.

Guilbault had been released on bail for a similar incident when this event occurred. He engages in high-risk criminal driving behaviour demonstrating little regard for the safety of our citizens.

Guilbault has criminal convictions for the following offences: fail to comply with probation/recognizance, theft under $5,000, theft over $5,000, possession of property obtained by crime, driving while disqualified, break and enter, possession of stolen mail, mischief, driving while impaired, traffic in scheduled substance, possession of scheduled substance for purpose of trafficking, possession of a scheduled substance, fail to attend court, unauthorized possession of a weapon, and procures to make an identity document.

Anyone who knows his whereabouts is asked to contact the Abbotsford Police Department by calling 604-859-5225. (AbbyPD file 2020-17710)

Seniors across North America lose millions to sweepstakes, lottery and prize scams

Victims over the age of 65 lost $3.33 million of the $4.1 million reported since 2018 

SWEEPSTAKES, lottery and prize scams have not lessened their financial and emotional harm, despite concerted law enforcement efforts, says Better Business Bureau (BBB) whose data shows that consumers over the age of 65 account for 80 per cent of money lost in sweepstakes, lottery, and prize schemes. BBB cautions this group to be particularly vigilant about recognizing and avoiding tactics used by scammers to prey on people, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic.
In June 2018, BBB issued an in-depth investigative study on sweepstakes and lottery scams. Since that time, BBB Scam Tracker reports have declined, however, adults aged 65 and older remain the largest group victimized by these scams. Of the 4,417 sweepstakes and lottery scams reported to BBB Scam Tracker since 2018, nearly half came from victims over the age of 65. This age group lost $3.33 million of the $4.1 million reported. 
Many sweepstakes and lottery scams continue to originate from Jamaica. Scammers may reach out by phone, email, Canada Post or even social media. They may also contact the public claiming to be representatives of fictitious but legitimate-sounding organizations, such as the “International Gaming Commission” and the “Canadian Gaming and Lottery Commission.” Neither organization exists. 
Scammers have updated their sales pitches to potential victims to include COVID-19 twists. According to Scam Tracker reports, scammers are discussing supposed COVID-19 safety precautions for prize delivery, and attributing delays in awarding prizes to the pandemic. One impostor scam, fraudulently using the Publisher Clearing House name in connection with a bogus COVID-19 Census Grant, allows targeted victims to choose their winnings by the amount of fees they are willing to pay. Using social media, scammers publish a list of supposed winners and invite people whose names are not on the list to provide personal information and choose their award level.
Many victims are being instructed to mail cash to scammers. Besides offering fake cash prizes, scammers may lure victims by also claiming victims will receive luxury cars, laptops or other high-end merchandise. People who have become victims of sweepstakes scams are likely to be contacted again by scammers. Many lottery scam victims keep sending money for weeks or months, thinking that each step is the last one before they get their winnings.
A Kelowna resident made this report to BBB:
“A man named John King called my elderly father saying that he won $5 million and a car but UPS would need $500 to deliver. I called back the number. There was no answering machine but it was a cell phone that went straight to voice mail. I left a message saying not to contact us again. My dad said John King called back while I was away and told him that he understands that his daughter doesn’t want him taking these calls and that he should not let me stop him from claiming what is his because I don’t make his decisions. My father says he doesn’t sound like a scammer because he was respectful and listened to everything he said, plus assured him the money would go straight to UPS. So he sent him the $500 plus shared lots of personal information with him. He still refuses to believe it’s a scam and is still waiting for his prize”.
“The law requires you to purchase a ticket to play the lottery, but a legitimate lottery or sweepstakes will never ask its winners to wire money or buy gift cards to claim the prize,” says Karla Laird, Manager for Community and Public Relations at BBB serving Mainland BC. “It is heartbreaking to see that these fraudsters are continuously preying on older people who are dreaming of a big win or a financial windfall in their golden years.”
Law enforcement officials in North America and Jamaica have prosecuted several cases in the last two years. These prosecutions have included not only scammers, but also victims called ‘money mules’, who agreed to participate in additional scam activity. While these money mules typically are not prosecuted if they were unaware of their own participation in scams, known accomplices have been the target of government action.

Tips for detecting and avoiding sweepstakes, lottery or prize scams:

* You’ve got to play to win. A notification that you have won a prize in a contest you do not remember entering should be a red flag. If you do regularly enter contests or sweepstakes, make sure to keep track of your entries so you can easily confirm potential winnings if someone contacts you.

* True lotteries or sweepstakes don’t ask for money. If they want money for taxes, themselves, or a third party, it most likely is a scam.

* Call the lottery or sweepstakes company directly to see if you won. According to Publishers Clearing House (PCH), it does conduct sweepstakes but does not call or email people in advance to tell them they’ve won a major prize, nor asks for money. Report PCH imposters to their hotline at 800-392-4190.

* Check to see if you won a lottery. Call the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries at 440-361-7962 or the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC).

* Do an internet search of the company, name, or phone number of the person who contacted you.

* Law enforcement officials do not call and award prizes. If you think you have been contacted by law enforcement, verify the identity of the caller but do not send money.

* Talk to a trusted family member or your financial institution. They may be able to help you determine if you are being targeted for a scam.

Where to report a sweepstakes, lottery or prize scam:

* Better Business Bureau: BBB Scam Tracker at bbb.org/scamtracker

* Canadian Antifraud Centre:  1-888-495-7597

* BCLC Customer Support Centre: 1-866-815-0222

Ridge Meadows RCMP announces their largest ever seizure of drugs, weapons and cash

A five-month-long drug investigation by the Ridge Meadows RCMP’s Street Enforcement Unit (SEU) has resulted in the largest seizure of drugs, weapons and cash in the detachment’s history.

Ridge Meadows RCMP said on Wednesday that the seized drugs included a large amount of Fentanyl. They will be naming a suspect and revealing details about their investigation on Thursday.

Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers seeks anonymous tips about animal cruelty

Photo: spca.bc.ca/

ANIMAL cruelty is a crime, no matter whether the victim is a pet, a farm animal, or a service animal. People who are close to animal abusers often know about it, but are reluctant to report a friend, neighbour or family member, says Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers.

And it is urging anyone with any information about animals being abused to report it anonymously on its tip lines (1-800-222-8477 or 1-855-448-8477), on Crime Stoppers’ “P3” anonymous crime reporting app, or online at solvecrime.ca. When reporting your tip on the P3 app, “Animal Cruelty” is one of the many offenses found in the list of reportable crimes.

The information will be passed to the BC SPCA which is the sole animal welfare organization authorized under BC’s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act to investigate reports of animal cruelty with the same autonomy as the police.

Animal cruelty usually results from:

Neglect – the failure to provide an animal with the most basic of requirements: food, water, shelter and veterinary care. Neglect may be due to unintentional ignorance on the animal owner’s part. The owner is typically required to correct the situation.

* Intentional cruelty – when an individual purposely inflicts physical harm or injury on an animal. This may include maiming, torturing or killing animals, dog and cock fighting, and deliberate denial of basic necessities of care such as fresh water and food or shelter.

“Every year, our Cruelty Investigations Department conducts more than 8,000 animal cruelty investigations,” says Shawn Eccles, Senior Manager of Cruelty Investigations for BC SPCA. “Our 30 full-time Special Provincial Constables are trained to carry out these investigations, care for animals in distress and recommend charges to Crown Counsel for the prosecution of those who inflict suffering on animals. If anyone wants to report animal abuse and remain anonymous, we urge them to provide the information to Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers”.

“Crime Stoppers collects anonymous tips 24/7 on any crime and passes it to the relevant authority responsible for investigating them,” says Linda Annis, Executive Director of Metro Vancouver Crime Stoppers. “We certainly welcome any anonymous tips about animal cruelty and will pass them directly to the BC SPCA. Your anonymity is guaranteed, you won’t be called back, you will not be asked to go to court, and you may be eligible for a cash award of up to $5,000.”

The “Dog” Days are here

With the arrival of warmer summer weather, the BC SPCA also warns pet owners not to leave pets locked up in vehicles. Anyone witnessing an animal in distress from the heat should consider it an emergency and is urged to report it directly to local police or the BC SPCA.

Orientation week ensures a safe, ready and welcome return to school: Education Minister

Rob Fleming

TO ensure schools are ready to welcome students into classrooms for the week of September 8-11, there will be a gradual restart to allow extra time to orient students and staff on the new health and safety measures in place.

“Schools are going to look different in September,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Education, on Wednesday. “Staff, students and parents need time to get familiar with all the new health and safety procedures that are designed to keep them safe and confident in their school settings.”

Starting September 8, all staff will meet with their school’s joint health and safety committee to receive instructions about how the updated guidelines, co-developed with the BC Centre for Disease Control and provincial health officer, will work in their school. This will also allow time for educators and staff to adjust to their new routines, finalize plans for learning groups, review health and safety protocols, and confirm lesson plans that align with the new normal in schools.

Students will be welcomed back to class for orientation by September 10 and will use their orientation time to get familiar with classrooms that will look different than they did before the pandemic. Students will be assigned to their class, find out who is in their learning group, practise their new routines and familiarize themselves with how to safely move from the class to outdoor and common areas of the school.

On August 10, School districts were provided with readiness checklists to ensure they are updating their health and safety plans and considering, communicating and consulting with their unions, Indigenous rightsholders, staff and families in their local communities. They will also need to ensure their plans address equity and inclusion of children who require additional support in school.

Health and safety of teachers, staff and students are leading the work being done by the K-12 education restart steering committee and working groups with membership from all education partners and health experts. These groups are also working to create detailed operational guidelines, which will be available by August 17 to support school districts with their restart plans, including guidance on:

* implementing the updated health and safety protocols;

* ensuring kids who require extra support are prioritized and have the services they need;

* supporting the mental health and wellness of students who may be experiencing additional challenges because of the pandemic;

* ensuring fewer contacts and a safe workplace for those who interact with more than one learning group – such as specialists, teachers on call, educational assistants, cafeteria staff or bus drivers;

* supporting hybrid instruction with a blend of in-person learning and remote learning for dense urban secondary schools with large student populations;

* minimizing physical contact within learning groups; and

* ensuring before- and after-school child care on school grounds allows kids to stay within their learning groups as much as possible.

“By working collaboratively with leaders in our education system, we are making sure students and staff are safe, ready and welcome when they return to school in September,” Fleming said.

To help guide the transition back to school in the safest way possible, Fleming has also been meeting regularly with the presidents of the BC Teachers’ Federation, CUPE, B.C. Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils, the B.C. School Trustees Association, the First Nations Education Steering Committee, Métis Nation BC, the B.C. Principals and Vice Principals Association and BC Association of School Business Officials.

City of Surrey to host virtual Surrey Fusion Festival livestream, interactive cultural video series

IN participation with Culture Days, Surrey Fusion Festival will host a 90-minute livestream followed by a four-week interactive cultural video series on social media. Presented by Coast Capital Savings, the livestream will take place on September 26 from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. broadcasted on Facebook and YouTube Live. The interactive video series will be hosted on the City of Surrey’s event social media accounts from September 25 to October 25. 

“While we all do our part to limit the spread of COVID-19, the City will be celebrating Surrey’s diversity with a one-of-a-kind virtual multicultural event,” said Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum. “Surrey Fusion Fest will go virtual this year, so join us to discover traditional food, art and music from cultures across the globe from the comfort of your home.” 

This year’s family-friendly livestream will feature a series of segments including cultural performances, musical entertainment, art lessons, Surrey history, Indigenous education, dance lessons, cooking segments and kids’ activities. The interactive video series will feature up to 30 educational videos including “how-to” cooking, dance, arts and crafts activities from participating cultural pavilions from previous years. Additionally, the video series will see participation from the City of Surrey’s Museum, Heritage and Performing Arts Centres. 

“We are thrilled to welcome back Coast Capital Savings as the Presenting Sponsor of Surrey Fusion Festival’s virtual celebrations,” said Councillor Laurie Guerra, Chair of the Parks, Recreation and Culture Committee. “We are thankful for their continuous support over the years; without their contributions this event would not be possible.” 

Culture Days is an annual Canadian national celebration of arts and culture. At the end of each September, millions of people attend thousands of participatory arts and culture events across the country. Culture Days programs invite the public to get hands-on and behind-the-scenes to highlight the importance of arts and culture in our communities. This year the celebrations run from September 25 to October 25. 

For more information, visit surreyfusionfestival.ca. 

Kamala Harris’ selection by Joe Biden moment of pride for Indians: Tamil Nadu deputy chief minister

Kamala Harris Photo: Twitter

Chennai (IANS): Tamil Nadu Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam on Wednesday termed the selection of US Senator Kamala Harris as the Democrats’ vice presidential candidate by the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden for the upcoming US poll as a moment of pride for Indians.

Panneerselvam tweeted: “It is a moment of pride for Indians and Tamil Nadu especially, as Kamala Harris, the first Indian senator, whose mother hails from Tamil Nadu has been nominated as the Vice Presidential candidate by the US Democratic party. My hearty wishes to her.”

DMK MP Kanimozhi in a tweet said: “It’s really a matter of pride that Democratic Presidential nominee @JoeBiden has chosen US politician of Indian Tamil origin Kamala Harris as his VP running mate for the US Presidential elections. I wish Kamala Harris the best in the US elections. Good to see the inclusiveness.”

Kamala Harris, whose mother tongue is Tamil, is the first Indian-American to be the Vice Presidential choice in a US Presidential election.

Her mother Shyamala Gopalan had gone to the US to study medicine and became a cancer researcher. She later married Donald Harris, a Jamaican economist. The couple had two daughters – Kamala and Maya – but subsequently divorced.

Though born and raised in the US, a young Kamala often visited her maternal grandparents in Chennai’s Besant Nagar locality, and had strolled on the Elliots Beach here along with her grandfather P.V. Gopalan, a retired civil servant.

“You can’t know who @KamalaHarris is without knowing who our mother was. Missing her terribly, but know she and the ancestors are smiling today,” Maya Harris tweeted after her sister was selected.

Shyamala Gopalan’s sister Sarala Gopalan and brother G. Balachandran are still in India. A thrilled Sarala, who got the news early on Wednesday, told a publication that her niece has not forgotten her roots and calls her ‘Chithi’ – the form of address for the younger sister of one’s mother


Education town hall highlights lack of confidence in NDP’s back-to-school plan: B.C. Liberals

Dan Davies

B.C. Liberal Critic for Education Dan Davies was joined on Tuesday by nearly 200 participants from across British Columbia for a virtual town hall where parents, teachers, staff, and students shared their concerns about the NDP’s current back-to-school plan, which has created widespread uncertainty and confusion as families look ahead to the coming school year.

“The NDP government has released a half-baked back-to-school plan that has inspired little confidence for teachers, staff and families,” said Davies. “With just weeks to go until school is supposed to resume, there is a growing chorus of concern and anxiety coming from teachers, staff, and families across B.C. that this government still refuses to address or even recognize. This town hall was our way of providing these British Columbians with a forum to share their concerns and discuss solutions.”

Throughout the town hall, dozens of teachers and parents outlined the challenges and fears they are facing, including a lack of guidelines for their immune-compromised children or family members. Teachers described how they fear the long-term impacts on their own health should they contract COVID-19 from asymptomatic students. Parents also expressed concern that the government is not offering appropriate distance-learning supports and resources for at-risk children, which is more pressing given the NDP slashed funding to Independent Distributed Learning programs by $12 million this July.

“What we heard today was that parents are feeling overwhelmed by conflicting information and the lack of guidelines coming from government. They are still uncertain about what September has in store and are scared for the wellbeing of their children and families,” added Davies. “What is missing in the NDP’s proposal is what British Columbians have been asking for all along — a plan that offers them the resources and flexibility to meet the needs of their own families. I am hoping that the Minister will listen to some of the concerns that we heard today, offer more opportunities for consultation, and make the necessary changes that will protect our children’s health and education and instill greater confidence in parents and teachers.”