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Thousands could be without power ‘for days’ after severe B.C. windstorm

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Thousands of people living on B.C.’s South Coast could be without power for days after an intense windstorm hammered the region throughout the day Thursday, possibly turning deadly on Vancouver Island.

Environment Canada said gusts hit up to 100 km/h across Metro Vancouver, Vancouver Island and the Fraser Valley. At one point, more than 330,000 people were without power.

As of early Friday morning, BC Hydro said 150,000 customers were still in the dark.

More than 230,000 homes have lost power as another “significant” windstorm batters B.C.’s South Coast, also leading to widespread ferry closures and shutting down access to parts of Vancouver’s Stanley Park for the sake of public safety. 2:07

The utility called it “one of the most severe storms BC Hydro has experienced in years,” adding that it could be days before power is fully restored to everyone.

A couple of uprooted trees fell onto two homes on East 12th Ave. near Fraser Street in Vancouver on Thursday, prompting an overnight closure. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

They tweeted overnight that while they were making progress responding to outages on the mainland, the brunt of the damage was taken by Vancouver Island.

They also said crews would be on early ferries Friday morning to get to the hardest-hit spots on the island.

One killed, another injured in storm

The BC Coroners Service said a person was killed by a falling tree in Duncan on Vancouver Island, although it is unclear if the tree fell because of the strong winds.

In Surrey, a worker was injured and taken to hospital when a tree went down near Pacific Academy school. WorkSafeBC is investigating the incident.

Public infrastructure damaged

In White Rock, about 50 kilometres from Vancouver, the landmark pier was partly destroyed by powerful waves.

Video from the shoreline shows waves ripping out a large section of the 104-year-old structure, leaving a man trapped on the far end. He was later rescued by helicopter.

City officials said more details on clean-up and repair plans would be released Friday.

A person had to be rescued from the White Rock pier after it was partially destroyed in Thursday’s windstorm. (Max McGratten)

Rail line damaged

The waves in White Rock also cut rail service that runs along its shoreline.

Amtrak passenger service to Seattle has been cancelled, along with up to 17 freight trains that run along that route every day.

A Royal Canadian Air Force helicopter rescued a man from the White Rock pier on Thursday afternoon after a storm broke the pier apart. (Tom Ewasiuk/Twitter/@residualimage)

Burlington Northern railway owns and maintains the line. Gus Melonas, a company spokesman in Seattle, said crews worked overnight Thursday to stabilize the storm-damaged rail bed.

Melonas said there are problem areas all through to Bellingham, Wash. Burlington Northern hopes to reopen the line Friday.

The storm also forced the closure of several public parks, including Vancouver’s Stanley Park, out of concern for public safety.

Several public trails and viewpoints leading to the beach in South Surrey and White Rock were also shut down.

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List of Tourist Attractions Open Now in Ottawa

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With Ontario now in Step 3 of 2021 three-step plan for reopening, museums and other indoor attractions are allowed to reopen with capacity limited to not exceed 50 per cent capacity indoors and 75 per cent capacity outdoors.

Here is a list of Ottawa attractions you can visit starting July 16th.

Do remember to wear masks and buy tickets in advance.

Parliament Hill

Parliament’s Centre Block and Peace Tower are closed for renovation.

You can join for tours of the Senate of Canada Building (2 Rideau Street), House of Commons at West Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill, and East Block at East Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill.

When: Grounds open; guided tours of Parliament are suspended through the summer of 2021.
Where: 111 Wellington Street, Downtown Ottawa

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Ottawa performer leapfrogs from gymnastics to Broadway to TV

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A new AppleTV+ series set in a magical town that’s stuck in a neverending 1940s musical includes a pair of Ottawa siblings in the cast. 

Warren Yang and his sister, Ericka Hunter, play two of the singing, dancing residents of the village portrayed in Schmigadoon!, a small-screen series that takes its cues from classic musicals like Brigadoon, Wizard of Oz and Sound of Music, and skewers them with the offbeat comedic mastery of Saturday Night Live. 

In fact, you’ll recognize many of the names from SNL, starting with executive producer Lorne Michaels, creator of the late-night, live-comedy sketch show. Schmigadoon! also stars SNL cast member Cecily Strong and comedian Keegan-Michael Key, who hosted SNL in May. They play a New York couple who get lost on a hike and stumble into a strange town where everyone sings and dances. 

For Yang, a relative newcomer to show-biz, the series marks his television debut. For Hunter, the younger of his two older sisters, it’s the latest in a career path that began with dance lessons as a child more than 30 years ago. She attended Canterbury High School, Ottawa’s arts-focused secondary school. 

“Her dream was always to perform,” said Yang, 34, in an interview. “But that was never the path I thought was an option for me.” 

While his sister studied dance, Yang did gymnastics. He was an elite gymnast throughout his youth, ultimately leaving Merivale High School at 16 to train in Montreal, finishing high school through correspondence courses. He was a member of the Canadian National Team and received a scholarship to study at Penn State, majoring in marketing. 

A few years after graduation, Yang was working at an advertising agency in Toronto when he got a call from a Manhattan number. To his astonishment, they asked if he would be interested in auditioning for a Broadway revival of Miss Saigon.

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COVID-19: uOttawa to require vaccination for students living in residence

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Vaccination will be mandatory for students who want to live in residence at the University of Ottawa this year, with proof of vaccination and at least one dose required before move-in, or within two weeks of doing so if they can’t secure a shot before arriving.

Those who can’t receive a vaccine for “health-related reasons or other grounds protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code” will be able to submit a request for accommodation through the university’s housing portal, according to information on the university’s website.

Students with one dose living in residence will also have to receive their second dose “within the timeframe recommended by Ottawa Public Health.”

People who haven’t been granted an exemption and don’t get vaccinated or submit proof of having done so by the deadlines set out by the school will have their residence agreements terminated, uOttawa warns.

“Medical and health professionals are clear that vaccination is the most (effective) means of protecting people and those around them,” reads a statement provided to this newspaper by uOttawa’s director of strategic communications, Patrick Charette.

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“It is precisely for this reason that the University of Ottawa is requiring all students living in residence for the 2021-2022 academic year to be fully vaccinated. The University recognizes that some students may require accommodations for a variety of reasons and will be treating exceptions appropriately.”

Faculty, staff and students are also strongly encouraged to get vaccinated, the statement notes.

“Ensuring a high vaccine coverage in all communities is critical to ensuring an ongoing decline in cases and ending the pandemic. This will be especially important with the return of students to post-secondary institutions in our region in the fall of 2021.”

Neither Carleton University nor Algonquin College is currently mandating vaccination for students living in residence, according to the websites for both schools. But uOttawa isn’t alone in its policy – Western University, Trent University, Durham College and Fanshawe College have all implemented similar requirements. Seneca College, in the GTA, is going even further, making vaccination mandatory for students and staff to come to campus, in-person, for the fall term.

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