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- More than 50 structures are confirmed fully or partially destroyed by the McDougall Creek fire in West Kelowna.
- More help is on the way, as hundreds of firefighters from Mexico and South Africa are set to arrive.
- Smoke is blanketing much of the province, prompting air quality advisories and special weather statements.
- A provincewide state of emergency is in place in B.C. Here’s what it means.
- Non-essential travel to the southern Interior has been restricted as 27,000 people are under evacuation orders, around a third of them in the Kelowna area.
- Homes have been destroyed and more than 4,000 properties are on evacuation order in the Shuswap region, as two major fires combined near Adams Lake.
- The B.C. Wildfire Service says critical equipment has been taken from the area.
- In Northern B.C., a new evacuation order and alert was issued for the Takla First Nation, northwest of Prince George.
- Highway 1 remains closed and evacuation orders are still in place in the Fraser Canyon as a result of the Kookipi Creek wildfire.
- Many people want to help evacuees. Learn more about how to offer your support.
- Find a full list of wildfires, highway closures and evacuation orders and alerts.
- Tune in for ongoing coverage of the wildfire situation on CBC Radio One at 88.9 FM in Kelowna, 96.9 FM in Salmon Arm, or by using the CBC Listen app.
More than 50 structures have been fully or partially destroyed by an aggressive wildfire in West Kelowna, B.C., according to the Okanagan city’s fire chief.
Jason Brolund told a news conference Monday morning that crews are trying to systematically survey the areas hit by the McDougall Creek fire to determine the extent of the damage.
“We’re not done yet and the most damaged neighbourhoods are still to come,” he said.
Brolund said the job of tallying the damage has been challenging because some address markers were destroyed by the fire and street signs have melted, while downed power lines, ruined roads and fallen trees have made it unsafe to enter some areas.
In one neighbourhood, he said, it looked like a hurricane had blown through.
“Trees were ripped out by their roots. The force to make that happen is incredible,” Brolund said.
But he reassured residents that a number of neighbourhoods in the city have been relatively untouched by the fire, with no structures lost.
Brolund added that as conditions have quietened in the last 24 hours, no other structures have been destroyed.
“What’s happening out there is the day-to-day grind of firefighting,” he said, applauding the work of firefighters from across the province who’ve come together to protect West Kelowna.
Video of homes burning
Some residents of West Kelowna are learning their homes are gone through unofficial channels.
Chris Erickson left his West Kelowna home Thursday as wildfire approached and the next day, he saw a photo of his home in a local newspaper.
“You see just huge flames up in the trees, and at the bottom of the photo, you could see the roof of our house,” he said.
Later, a neighbour sent him footage from a doorbell camera that confirmed the damage.
“It’s quite the experience witnessing your house engulfed in flames before it collapses in on itself,” he said from a hotel room in Merritt, B.C. “Watching that is hard.”
Seagun Laboucane had a similar experience while scrolling through social media.
“I was sitting having dinner when I first saw … a picture of what I thought was my house on fire,” she said, adding that later footage would confirm the loss.
“It didn’t feel real.”
Firefighters working back-to-back shifts
According to Brolund, some West Kelowna firefighters are working back-to-back shifts, taking the usual calls from the fire hall at night before heading out to fight the wildfire in the morning.
He said one firefighter was scheduled to become a Canadian citizen on Monday, and will now have to participate in the ceremony by Zoom from behind the fire lines.
“What an important thing and what a massive sacrifice to make,” Brolund said.
The out-of-control McDougall Creek fire was last measured at 110 square kilometres in size, but the B.C. Wildfire Service says smoky conditions have made it difficult to get an up-to-date estimate for the fire.
A total of 9,855 properties remain on evacuation order in the area of the fire, Regional District of Central Okanagan board chair Loyal Woolridge said Monday.
Five structures were destroyed by the fire in Kelowna, while at least two or three were lost in Lake Country, a municipality north of Kelowna, the public heard Monday.
North Westside Fire Chief Ross Kotcherofski said he was not able to provide an estimate for the destruction in his jurisdiction, north of West Kelowna, but most of the structural damage has been in the Traders Cove and Lake Okanagan Resort areas. The resort was destroyed on Friday.
However, Kotcherofski said that a number of his firefighters have lost their own homes in the fire, but have remained on the front lines to help their neighbours.
Smoky skies helping wildfire fight
As the southern quarter of British Columbia is warned about the risk of particulates in the air from wildfire smoke, those battling blazes in the Central Okanagan say the smoke is helping their cause.
A special air quality statement and smoky skies bulletin is in place from Vancouver Island east to the Alberta border, as well as in the central Interior, due to smoke from hundreds of wildfires burning across the province.
An additional air quality advisory remains in place for Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, warning of high concentrations of fine particulate matter in the air.
While the amount of smoke in the air has created harmful conditions for people’s health, it’s also reducing the sun’s intensity, which is helping the fight against wildfires across the province.
“It is effectively another good day to fight fire, apart from the smoke in the air,” Jerrad Schroeder of the B.C. Wildfire Service said Monday morning.
In a long string of posts on X, formerly known as Twitter, the B.C. Wildfire Service noted Sunday that rain is in the forecast for late Monday night, which should allow firefighters to gain some ground.
However, the wildfire service also warned that tropical storm Hilary, which is causing flooding in southern California, will bring strong winds all the way up to B.C., with the potential for more extreme fire behaviour.
So far there is no official count of how many homes have been destroyed across B.C. since fire activity dramatically accelerated last week, but officials have acknowledged the damage is “significant.”
An unknown number of homes have also been destroyed in the Shuswap region east of Kamloops, where the Bush Creek East fire is now burning over 410 square kilometres around Adams Lake and Shuswap Lake.
There are more than 380 active wildfires burning across B.C. as of Monday morning, fuelled by wind, drought and hot weather that have left landscapes tinder dry.
Of those fires, 159 are deemed out of control while 14 are categorized as fires of note, meaning they are particularly visible or threatening to property.
B.C. Emergency Management Minister Bowinn Ma said there are now about 27,000 people in the province under an evacuation order and another 35,000 on evacuation alert.
“We hope that the darkest days are behind us, but the situation is still evolving and the dangers we face are still extreme,” she said in an update on Monday.
Premier David Eby announced Monday that he, Ma and Forests Minister Bruce Ralston all plan to travel to fire-affected areas on Tuesday to show that “we will be there when the crisis passes to rebuild,” and to gather information about what is needed.
Across B.C., more than 3,500 people are fighting wildland fires, and hundreds of municipal firefighters are helping to protect homes and other buildings, according to the B.C. Wildfire Service.
Another 100 Mexican firefighters and 200 from South Africa are expected to arrive this week.
Travel restrictions, advisories
The province is under a state of emergency, and travel to B.C.’s southern Interior has been restricted, preventing tourists from using hotels, motels, RV parks and other temporary accommodations in Kelowna and West Kelowna, Kamloops, Oliver, Osoyoos, Penticton and Vernon, so they can be utilized for evacuees.
Wildfires are also affecting several travel corridors through B.C. Highway 1 is closed in at least two spots: between Lytton and Hope in the Fraser Canyon, and between Chase and Sorrento in the Shuswap.
Other travel advisories:
- Highway 97, in both directions, just south of Coldstream to Peachland.
- Highway 97, in both directions, six kilometres north of Vernon to three kilometres south of Osoyoos.
- Highway 5A, in both directions, between Old Kamloops Road and Roche Lake Road for 13 kilometres south of Kamloops.
DriveBC has a full listing of all road closures and travel advisories.
New evacuation orders for northern B.C.
On Monday evening, the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako and the Takla First Nation issued a new evacuation order for the Germansen Landing and the 12 Mile area due to the Big Creek wildfire.
The district also issued an evacuation alert for the Manson Creek community because of the same wildfire.
Anyone placed under an evacuation order should leave the area immediately.
Evacuation centres have been set up throughout the province to assist anyone evacuating from a community under threat from a wildfire.
To find the centre closest to you, visit the EmergencyInfoBC website.
Evacuees are encouraged to register with Emergency Support Services online, whether or not they access services at an evacuation centre.
'ET Canada' cancelled by Corus Entertainment, blames 'challenging' advertising market – CTV News
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Entertainment Tonight Canada to end after 18 seasons
Canadian media company Corus Entertainment has announced it is ending flagship entertainment program Entertainment Tonight (ET) Canada after 18 seasons.
“The costs of producing a daily entertainment newsmagazine show in a challenging advertising environment have led to this decision,” read a statement posted on the company’s website on Wednesday.
“We recognize the impact this decision has on the dedicated team who have worked on the show and we thank them for their meaningful contributions over the years.”
The show’s final episode will air on Oct. 6, with reruns airing in the same time slot on Global TV until Oct. 31, a Corus spokesperson told CBC News.
The cancellation won’t impact Corus’s obligation to produce Canadian content under the rules set out by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), the spokesperson said.
ET Canada’s website and social media platforms will also be shut down. The spokesperson declined to comment on how many people had been laid off as a result, but said the program’s hosts were impacted.
The network said it has no plans for another entertainment news show.
An hour-long, magazine-style show that focused on entertainment, celebrity, film and TV news, ET Canada began airing in 2005 on Global TV, which is owned by Corus Entertainment.
The program has been hosted by Canadian media personality Cheryl Hickey since its launch, with regular appearances by entertainment reporters, including Sangita Patel — a co-host since 2022 — plus Carlos Bustamante, Keshia Chanté and Morgan Hoffman.
The cancellation leaves ETalk, CTV’s weeknight show, as Canada’s lone major entertainment news program.
Andrea Grau, founder and CEO of entertainment publicity firm Touchwood PR, said ET Canada offered a Canadian perspective that made it stand out in the U.S.-dominated entertainment landscape.
“There was this great Entertainment Tonight brand that was going on in the U.S. — we all watched. And the idea of a Canadian arm of it was very special because it could give a different slant,” she said.
ET Canada’s demise comes during a major shift in the industry, she said, as publicists struggle to find entertainment outlets that can shine a spotlight on emerging Canadian artists and projects.
“Even though we share a language with the U.S. and we share pop culture, we are still Canadian and we have a different perspective,” Grau said, noting that ET Canada’s hosts were a mainstay on the U.S. press circuit.
“You see those relationships that have been built over the years of having Sangita [Patel] standing on a red carpet interviewing someone, or Cheryl Hickey interviewing someone. They’re recognizable to [celebrities] after all of these years, too,” she said. “They’ve created such a strong brand.”
Canada just had its lowest number of births in 17 years. What’s behind it?
The number of babies born in Canada dropped to a 17-year-low last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic and a declining fertility rate, data shows.
A Statistics Canada report released Tuesday showed there were 351,679 births registered across the country in 2022, which was a five per cent decrease from the previous year. This was Canada’s sharpest drop recorded since 2005.
Before 2022, the lowest number of births recorded was in 2005, with 345,044 babies born nationwide.
While the number of births in all provinces and territories declined last year, Nova Scotia was the notable outlier with a 12.8 per cent increase in live births.
The biggest decrease was in Nunavut, with the number of births dropping 11.8 per cent compared with 2021.
Canada, like many other developed countries, has been seeing declining birth trends over the past several years, but the COVID-19 pandemic has affected many people’s plans to have kids, said Kate Choi, an associate professor of sociology at Western University.
“Although the fertility decline was indeed part of a larger trend of fertility decreases that have been occurring in Canada, the magnitude of the decrease is larger than what we would have anticipated in the absence of COVID-19,” she told Global News in an interview.
The high cost of living has magnified the size of the drop in births, Choi said.
“It’s very expensive to have children and right now, when everything is expensive, it’s very hard for young adults to be able to have the type of lifestyle that allows them to have children, which is contributing to delayed and forgone fertility,” she added.
It’s a concerning trend for Canada, according to Choi, who said decreasing birth rates have the potential to exacerbate population aging issues.
Canada is considered a low-fertility country and its fertility rate has been declining over the past decade.
The latest Statistics Canada data from 2021 reported a fertility rate of 1.44 children per woman that year — marking a slight increase following a steady decline since 2009.
The fertility rate is an estimate of the average number of live births a female can be expected to have in her lifetime, according to StatCan.
Lifestyle changes and work decisions are contributing factors, with a shift toward smaller families, said Mark Rosenberg, an expert in geography and professor emeritus at Queen’s University.
“I think mainly the factors we should focus on are first and foremost women’s decisions around the labour force and delaying birth until they’re in their 30s,” he told Global News in an interview.
There is also an increasing number of younger people living in single-person households, Rosenberg added.
Despite the drop in births, Canada’s population has been growing at a “record-setting pace,” surpassing the milestone of 40 million people earlier this year, due to a focus on increasing immigration.
Meanwhile, the StatCan report Tuesday also showed a rise in the proportion of babies who were born with a low birth weight — less than 2,500 grams.
Seven per cent of all babies had a low birth weight in 2022 compared with 6.6 per cent the year before.
Babies with a low birth weight are at an increased risk of complications, such as inhibited growth and development and even death, according to StatCan.
“When we see higher rates of low birth weight babies or higher rates of babies that are born who are overweight, those are issues that we should be concerned about because they reflect on people’s health,” Rosenberg said.
— with files from Global News’ Katherine Ward
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