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Extreme avalanche warning issued for southern B.C. as winter storm rolls in

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An extreme avalanche alert has been issued for the South Coast and Sea to Sky regions of British Columbia as a winter storm dumps heavy snow and rain, making travel treacherous.

The rarely used warning from Avalanche Canada means all potential avalanche terrain must be avoided at all costs, as natural and human-triggered avalanches are a certainty.

“There’s a significant number of large to very large natural avalanches expected today, and some of that may persist tomorrow,” said senior forecaster Grant Helgeson with Avalanche Canada.

“That’s really due to a very powerful winter storm has brought heavy precipitation to the coast — along with quite a bit of wind — that is creating a lot of natural avalanche activity,” he said.

The agency has also issued high avalanche danger warnings for the South Columbia, Columbia and Cariboo regions, and Glacier, Yoho and Banff national parks. The danger is also high in the alpine areas of the Purcell Mountains and South Rockies. 

Helgeson said area ski hills are still safe because patrols are knocking down and controlling the avalanche hazards.

Traffic is jammed, looking east along Highway 1 near Parks Headquarters at Glacier National Park, 72 kilometres east of Revelstoke just after 6:40 a.m. PT Thursday. The highway has been closed in both directions near Revelstoke and Golden due to avalanche control. (DriveBC)

Travellers using mountain passes around the southern half of B.C. should expect challenging conditions Thursday, as another winter storm leaves many routes in miserable condition.

Environment Canada has issued winter storm warnings for most major passes to and from the Interior, including the Coquihalla Highway from Hope to Merritt, where snowfall of up to 35 centimetres is possible by Friday morning.

The Rogers Pass stretch between Revelstoke and Golden was closed for avalanche control work as of 6 a.m. PT Thursday. The estimated time of reopening is 8 p.m. PT.

The weather agency said a snowstorm is expected for the area, with up to 50 centimetres of powder expected to fall over the pass before Friday. 

Drivers are being advised against travelling at all between Golden and the Perry River Bridge, east of Sicamous, due to the weather.

There are at least five other highway stretches closed across B.C. for planned avalanche control on Thursday.

The Sea to Sky Highway was also shut down in both directions Thursday morning between Soo Valley Road and Nairn Falls Park Road. The estimated time of reopening is 1 p.m. PT.

New Year’s storm

This week’s storm has already dumped snow on northeastern parts of the province and battered the Central Coast with high winds, while the southern Interior and South Coast have also been pummelled by the weather.

Snowfall, wind, rainfall and winter storm warnings are in effect for nearly two dozen regions across B.C., including Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and most of Vancouver Island.

As much as 100 millimetres of rain is forecast for parts of the Island, causing a risk of flash flooding and water pooling on roads, Environment Canada says. The latest weather system should ease as the front passes late Thursday.

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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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