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Father dead, son missing after avalanche in B.C.’s Purcell Mountains

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One man is dead and his son is missing after their snowmobile group was caught in an avalanche on Mount Brewer in the Purcell Mountains, near the community of Invermere, B.C.

A total of nine snowmobilers from Calgary were near the southeast side of Mount Brewer on Saturday. The slide was between 200 and 400 metres wide and ran onto a small lake.

Columbia Valley Search and Rescue responded and found a 51-year-old man from Calgary under two metres of snow. He was flown to hospital in Invermere, where he was confirmed dead.

The man’s 24-year-old son, who is also from Calgary, is still missing. A statement from RCMP said it’s believed he was swept into the lake.

A preliminary release from Avalanche Canada said rescuers picked up a transceiver signal on the lake where the avalanche ended. The agency also said the 51-year-old had activated his avalanche airbag, but it didn’t stop him from being buried. 

The RCMP’s Underwater Recovery Team searched the area on Sunday without success. The team was sent to the scene again on Monday.

RCMP said the other seven snowmobilers in the group were unhurt. Cpl. Dan Moskaluk said the avalanche may have been triggered after one of the snowmobilers was highmarking — an activity where a snowmobiler tries to ride as far as possible up a steep hill, then turn and come back down without rolling or stalling.

Skier killed farther west

The snowmobiler’s death is the second avalanche death in B.C. in as many weeks.

Earlier this month, a 42-year-old skier was killed in an avalanche in the backcountry near Pemberton. Friends found him after he was buried in the area near Pebble Creek on Jan. 3, but he couldn’t be revived.

The avalanche danger rating in the area was “extreme” at the time.

Columbia Valley Search and Rescue found one of the snowmobilers buried under two metres of snow with his avalanche airbag activated. The 51-year-old Calgary man was pronounced dead in hospital. (RCMP)

The Purcells have been seeing poor conditions since the fall, according to Avalanche Canada.

“The conditions in the Purcells, in particular, have been problematic for quite a while now,” said Karl Klassen, warning service manager for the Revelstoke-based agency.

“We suspect the layer that is creating the larger avalanches in this region formed in October. It’s been a problem ever since then, but it’s come alive lately as we’ve had more snow pile up on that layer.”

Klassen said that weak snowpack combined with a recent clear, warm spell has created a dangerously delicate environment.

“It’s very sensitive to triggering in the Purcells right now,” he said. “The danger ratings in the Purcells have been elevated for the last several days at least.”

Saturday’s avalanche bulletin for the Purcells warned that warm air and sunshine could make slides “more likely” and cautioned backcountry users to avoid alpine terrain entirely.

On Monday, an updated bulletin said “people have recently triggered large avalanches within the weak Purcells snowpack.”

An annual report from Avalanche Canada said there were 102 avalanche-related deaths in B.C. between 2009 and 2018.

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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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