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Runaway barges cause more than $1M in property damage, Vancouver police say





Two heavy barges the size of soccer fields that broke loose of their moorings early Wednesday are believed to have caused at least $1 million in property damage, police say.

Sgt. Jason Robillard of the Vancouver Police Department told reporters at a press conference Thursday the barges were moored in North Vancouver when they came loose just after 5 a.m. and floated across Burrard Inlet toward Coal Harbour.

The barges, which were tied together and carrying shipping containers, damaged a seaplane base, a local restaurant and two luxury yachts in the Coal Harbour Marina.

“Fortunately, there were no injuries reported,” said Robillard.

VPD’s marine unit received a 911 call around 6:30 a.m. Wednesday regarding the floating barges, Robillard said.

Two local tugboats, two Port of Vancouver vessels and a VPD marine unit vessel managed to pull the barges back to North Vancouver just after 8 a.m.

The barges crashed into the harbourfront patio of the Lift Bar and Grill, breaking two glass panels on the Coal Harbour restaurant’s patio. (Ken Leedham/CBC)

Investigation underway

Vancouver police are investigating the the extent of the damage while the Transportation Safety Board investigates the cause.

Mohan Raman, operations manager for marine investigations at the Transportation Safety Board, told CBC News the barges were owned by two marine transportation companies, North Arm Transportation and Mercury Launch and Tug Ltd.

“We are still gathering information at this point and we don’t know the cause as to why the barge drifted or came out of its mooring,” said Raman.

CBC News contacted both companies but they have yet to respond.

One of the structures that suffered damage was the Lift Bar and Grill, a restaurant located next to the harbour. Restaurant manager Claire Clarke told CBC News two glass panels on the restaurant’s patio were smashed as a result of the impact.

Clarke said the restaurant’s engineers will assess the damage and the owners will be looking into making an insurance claim.


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‘Too soon to celebrate’ Ottawa’s low case count, says Etches





Ottawa Public Health (OPH) logged just 11 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, the lowest daily total since Sept. 1.

Because of the lag between testing and reporting, the low number could simply reflect low turnout at the city’s testing sites on weekends — all month, new case counts have been lower on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. 

During a virtual news conference Tuesday, the city’s medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches said she doesn’t read too much into a single day’s report.

“I don’t think we can make too much of 11. Actually, it could be a lot higher tomorrow — I would expect that, on average,” she said. “It’s too soon to celebrate.”

Provincewide, public health officials reported 1, 249 new cases Tuesday.

OPH also declared 62 cases resolved Tuesday, lowering the number of known active cases in the city to 462. Two more people have died, both in care homes currently experiencing outbreaks, raising the city’s COVID-19 death toll to 361. 

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Santa Claus isn’t coming to Ottawa’s major malls this year





Santa Claus may still be coming to town this Christmas, but he won’t be dropping by any of Ottawa’s major malls, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Friday, Cadillac Fairview said Santa won’t be making an appearance at any of its 19 malls across Canada, including Rideau Centre in downtown Ottawa. On Tuesday, Bayshore and St. Laurent shopping centres confirmed they, too, are scrapping the annual tradition.

“Due to the evolution of the situation in regards to COVID-19, we have made the difficult decision to cancel our Santa Program and Gift Wrap Program this year,” Bayshore spokesperson Sara Macdonald wrote in an email to CBC.

Macdonald said parent company Ivanhoé Cambridge cancelled all holiday activities “due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases across the country.”

Macdonald said families that had already booked an appointment to visit Santa will receive an email with more information.  

Virtual visits with Santa

Rideau Centre said based on customer research and discussions with public health officials, its North Pole is going online this year.

“Children will be able to have a private chat with Santa,” said Craig Flannagan, vice-president of marketing for Cadillac Fairview. “You’ll also be able to join a 15-minute storytime with Santa over Facebook Live.” 

At Place d’Orléans Shopping Centre, visitors are invited to take a “selfie with Santa” — actually, a life-size cutout of Santa Pierre, the man who’s been playing Santa at the east end mall for years.

“We understand that this is not ideal, but in lieu of this tradition we will be doing what we can to maintain and encourage holiday cheer,” according to a statement on the mall’s Facebook page.

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Ottawa Bylaw breaks up two large parties in Ottawa over the weekend





OTTAWA — Ottawa Bylaw is investigating social gatherings of more than 10 people in private homes across Ottawa last weekend.

Mayor Jim Watson tells Newstalk 580 CFRA that Ottawa Bylaw broke-up two house parties over the weekend, with 20 to 25 people at each party.

“That’s the kind of stupidity that angers me, that’s where the bulk of the transmissions are taking place, if we exclude the tragedy of the long-term care homes; it’s these house parties with unrelated people,” said Watson on Newstalk 580 CFRA’s Ottawa at Work with Leslie Roberts.

“The message doesn’t seem to be getting through, particularly to some young people who think they’re invincible.”

In a statement to CTV News Ottawa, Bylaw and Regulatory Services Director Roger Chapman says, “There are still ongoing investigations from this past weekend that could result in charges.”

Chapman says recent investigations led to two charges being issued for social gatherings of more than 10 people in a private residence in contravention of the Reopening Ontario Act.

“In one case, up to 30 individuals were observed attending a house party in Ward 18 on Oct. 24,” said Chapman.

“The second charge was issued following a house party in Ward 16 on Oct. 31, where up to 16 individuals were observed to be in attendance.”

The fine is $880 for hosting an illegal gathering.

Alta Vista is Ward 18, while Ward 16 is River Ward.

Ottawa Bylaw has issued 24 charges for illegal gatherings since the start of the pandemic.

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