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ATTORNEY GENERAL BLAMES LIBERALS FOR ICBC WOES

Attorney General David Eby says a revelation by the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia that it’s on track for a $1.3-billion loss by April amounts to an “unnecessary crisis” that he calls a “financial dumpster fire.”

Eby is blaming the previous Liberal government, saying successive administrations milked the Crown corporation for more than $1 billion and then rejected and eliminated recommendations made three years ago that would have restored ICBC’s financial footing.

He says the situation is so dire that without action, drivers in B.C. will face a $400 rate hike, just to help the public insurer break even.

He says that is unaffordable and will not be permitted under the New Democratic government, which will bring in major initiatives in the spring to keep rates affordable while raising premiums for high-risk drivers and reducing them for drivers with good records.

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FERNIE TO ACCESS ARENA WHERE CITY WORKERS DIED

The City of Fernie has regained access to the community’s memorial arena for the first time since a deadly ammonia leak in October.

The RCMP, WorksafeBC and Technical Safety BC took charge of the site while they investigated the leak that claimed the lives of two city workers and a contractor from Calgary while they were working on the rink’s refrigeration unit.

The investigation continues but the city says it regained control of the arena on Friday, which will allow staff to enter the building and begin assessing the damage.

The city says in a release that regaining access is the first step in having an arena operational in time for next winter, but adds it has already decided the arena will not reopen without a new refrigeration plant.

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WOMAN RESCUED FROM ATOP CAR AFTER ROAD WASHED AWAY

Fire department officials are reporting a dramatic rescue of a woman whose car was caught in a mudslide in Lanzville on Vancouver Island.

Deputy chief John Marment says the road was washed away and the woman was standing on an upside-down car at the bottom of the slide when emergency crews arrived just after midnight.

He says she had mud and water almost up to her waist and the car was continuously sliding while crews set up rescue lines but they managed to get the woman out and take her to hospital, where her condition is unknown.

Flooding has caused multiple road closures and forced the evacuation of an RV park in Parksville and has also flooded roads in Whiskey Creek, prompting the District of Nanaimo to activate an emergency operations centre early Monday morning.

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GOVERNMENT SAYS ILLEGAL RIDE-HAILING SERVICES COULD LACK INSURANCE

The provincial government is reminding passengers who use illegal ride-hailing services that they are choosing to travel in a vehicle that may not have appropriate insurance if a crash occurs.

A Ministry of Transportation news release says illegal services such as Longmao, U Drop, RaccoonGo, GoKabu, Dingdang Carpool and AO Rideshare are operating without proper insurance, safety inspections or background checks for those behind the wheel.

Drivers recruited by the companies use their private vehicles to pick up paying passengers and the ministry says drivers, not the app companies that recruited them, bear the entire risk if something goes wrong.

The ministry says its Passenger Transportation Branch $1,100 for operating without the appropriate licence.

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RADON DETECTORS PLACED IN SCHOOLS

Vancouver Coastal Health says it’s putting radon testing devices in schools to keep children and youth safe from radon gas.

The detectors will be placed in classrooms starting this month in North Vancouver, West Vancouver, Sea-to-Sky, Sunshine Coast, Powell River and Central Coast and will be analyzed after three months, with the results to be given to school districts and parents.

The health authority says radon levels across the region are typically low compared to the rest of the province but it wants to confirm that’s the case in the schools and is also hoping to encourage people to test their homes.

Radon is a colourless, odourless, and radioactive gas that enters buildings through cracks and openings.

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WESTJET FLYING TO MORE DESTINATIONS OUT OF VANCOUVER

WestJet has announced a major expansion in flights out of its Vancouver hub starting this summer.

The airline says it’s adding more than 60 flights a week to key business and leisure destinations in Canada and Mexico.

Service is being expanded between Vancouver and Calgary, Edmonton, Kelowna and Ottawa in addition to a previously announced plan to begin three-times-a-week service between Vancouver and Mexico City in March, expanding to daily service at the end of April.

Vancouver Airport Authority CEO Craig Richmond says the announcement provides travellers with more non-stop travel options and further strengthens YVR’s position as Canada’s second-busiest airport.

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MOUNTIES SEARCH FOR STOLEN CAR USED IN SHOOTING

Nanaimo RCMP are appealing to the public for information about a vehicle that’s believed to have been used in a fatal, targeted shooting in the city.

The vehicle, described as a silver 2002 Audi S6 station wagon, was reported stolen from the Lower Mainland.

Mounties say it was driven to Vancouver Island onboard a BC Ferry sometime between Jan. 3 and 12 and was used during a shooting on Jan. 13.

Investigators are interested in speaking with anyone who may recall seeing the vehicle, or its occupants.

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VANCOUVER EMPTY HOMES TAX DEADLINE APPROACHING

The city of Vancouver says 11 per cent of homeowners have not yet submitted their Empty Homes Tax declarations.

That means they only have four days left before the Feb. 2 deadline, or their properties will be deemed vacant and subject to the tax.

Mayor Gregor Robertson says the tax was brought in to help address the city’s housing crisis, because many houses were sitting empty or under-occupied.

The Empty Homes Tax is determined at a rate of one per cent of the property’s 2017 assessed taxable value and homeowners who do not submit a declaration are also subject to a $250 penalty.

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By The Canadian Press, Vancouver

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