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Man rescued from collapsed B.C. pier says he wants to apologize for ‘foolishness’

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The man who ended up on the wrong side of a crumbling pier during a “devastating,” deadly windstorm on Thursday says he wants to apologize for his “foolishness.”

Oren Perry, 42, was caught on the far end of the pier in White Rock, B.C., after it collapsed in the early afternoon. Waves churned by 90 km/h winds had ripped nearby boats from their moorings and sent them crashing into the century-old pier, beating against the wooden beams until they cracked apart.

Oren Perry says he’d like to apologize to everybody for getting stuck on the White Rock pier. (Denis Dossman/CBC)

Other people on the pier ran back to safety at the first signs of collapse, but Perry says he didn’t feel safe.

“Embarrassing. That’s about it,” he said of being the only one caught on the wrong side.

The mayor of White Rock said Thursday’s windstorm was the worst he’s seen in his 50 years as a city resident. Gales led to fallen trees across the province’s South Coast, killing one woman on Vancouver Island and knocking out power to tens of thousands of homes over the course of the day.

The 104-year-old pier was badly damaged in Thursday’s windstorm. (Submitted by Max McGratten)

Hopes to wait it out

Perry went to the beach with his wife and son around noon Thursday. They were storm-watching from the beach promenade, but Perry’s wife and son went inside a restaurant for a break when the weather worsened.

“The waves were a little bit too big for my son, who’s two, and he was nervous,” Perry said over the phone Friday.

Alone, he decided to walk down the pier to join the crowd watching the waves and boats — “the excitement of the storm,” he said, adding that he’s watched storms from the pier before.

Perry said it took a few “tries” before boats started to break through the beams holding up the 104-year-old pier.

“At first, I was stuck with some other people and it didn’t seem like it was safe enough to cross, and I thought, ‘Well, the storm is going to die down in about an hour and we’ll just wait it out,'” Perry said.

He said he walked further out to get away from the break. Meanwhile, RCMP were onshore shouting for people on the pier to sprint to safety.

Everyone did, except Perry.

“I guess the police showed up to encourage the other people to run through, but I didn’t know … then I wasn’t close enough to make it a make across in time,” he said. “It didn’t seem like it was safe enough to cross.”

Eventually, a section of the pier tore away from the rest and left a gap over the ocean.

A boat is battered by waves and is slammed into the White Rock pier, which was severely damaged during a windstorm on Thursday. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

Perry said he hoped to wait out the storm on the far end of the pier, but a Royal Canadian Air Force helicopter from Vancouver Island lifted him to shore just after 3:30 p.m.

“I just felt foolish. Especially with everybody watching onshore,” said Perry.

A person was airlifted to safety after getting stranded on a pier broken in two by a powerful storm. 0:47

“Shout-out to the first responders. They did a great job — all of them,” he added. “And I have to apologize to everybody for getting stuck out there.”

Oren Perry, in black, wraps his arm around his wife after being rescued from the end of the landmark pier in White Rock. (Tom Ewasiuk)

The pier was open when Perry walked across. RCMP shut down the area after the collapse and it remained closed Friday.

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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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