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How drought is taking its toll on Canada’s normally “wet” coast



By this time of year, the so-called ‘wet coast’ of Canada should be blustery, wet and cold — some would even say miserable. Vancouver should be living up to its reputation as “Raincouver.” Fall colours, along with the downpours, should be in full swing.

But coastal British Columbia has not had significant rain since July. The leaves on the trees are yellow and orange — and hanging by a thread because they’re completely dried out.

It’s a tinderbox.

Just north of Vancouver, along B.C.’s Sunshine Coast, it’s situation critical.

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The area reservoir is on its last legs. The levels are so low at Chapman Lake, it can’t supply enough water through a nearby irrigation channel. It has meant siphoning water out of the middle of the tiny lake using helicopters.

“The situation at the moment is pretty dire,” said Remko Rosenboom, who manages the region’s infrastructure services. “Our water supply is running out […] very quickly.”

He’s worried that if the dry spell drags on, they’ll be unable to supply enough water to the region’s 22,000 residents, to say nothing of providing enough to the local hospital or firefighters. The hope is that there’ll be water to last until early November, but that’s just three weeks away.

A parched irrigation channel is unable to supply enough water to the Sunshine Coast, so crews have to siphon the water from the middle of the lake using helicopters.

Sunshine Coast Regional District

“All kinds of options are being explored and planned for,” Rosenboom said, including trucking water from outside. Already, the region is bringing in a bit of water,  about 3 per cent, from a neighbouring municipality that relies on a different water supply. They’re exploring shipping in water from the Lower Mainland if things get even worse.

For coastal First Nations, the impact is personal. The heat is hitting the lifeblood of the community — salmon — hard.

Last week, during a routine run to assess stocks in local rivers and streams, salmon counters working with Heiltsuk Nation in Bella Bella, B.C., stumbled across what they estimate to be between 65,000 to 80,000 dead fish.

William Housty, a resource manager with the Nation, says tens of thousands of salmon had been ‘tricked’ by a few millimetres of rain that had fallen over the previous days into thinking more sustained rains were about to come.

“The river levels started to fall, and the pools dried up, and they just ran out of real estate to live in and spawn,” Housty told Global News. “They just died in vast numbers.”

The heat and drought are affecting entire ecosystems, impacting the natural feeding cycle of animals, including wolves, bears and birds.

“The bears are coming down into these [river] systems, and there’s no salmon,” says Housty.

“It’s devastating.”

Weather experts are just as stunned by the abnormally hot and dry conditions.

“I don’t remember anything like this in the 20 years that I’ve been doing forecasting,” says Global BC senior meteorologist Kristi Gordon. She points to data from Environment Canada showing how virtually every community in B.C. was warmer and drier than normal in the month of September.

The city of Abbotsford was supposed to get 164 millimetres of rain from July to September but received less than a tenth of that amount. The city says levels at the two lakes it relies on for its water are lower than normal, but still in safe territory thanks to the spring rains and delayed snowmelt.

As for Vancouver, known around the world for its rain, got just a third of its expected precipitation total for the summer.

“It truly is exceptional,” Gordon says.

There have been little bursts of rain here and there, but it’s been more of a tease than actual relief.  Environment Canada is calling for showers on Monday. But beyond that, more dry weather.

Luckily, a wetter-than-normal spring along with a higher snowpack last winter has prevented reservoir levels from falling into dangerous territory in the Metro Vancouver area, the region’s population hub.

“We’re still well within the normal range for this time of year, so we’re in really good shape,” says Heidi Walsh, the director of Watersheds and Environment for Metro Vancouver. Still, she says, conservation is the order of the day, and restrictions could be expanded if conditions don’t improve. “We’re really hoping we don’t get there.”

There was the heat dome last summer, resulting in never-before-seen temperatures in Canada, and over six hundred deaths. Then there were the atmospheric rivers last November that dumped a month’s worth of rain over the course of a day or two and washed out huge stretches of highway.

Now, it’s more heat and drought — in October — which is changing the nature of fighting wildfires in British Columbia.

Already, there have been a higher-than-usual number of new fires in B.C, despite the lack of wind and lightning. The extreme, dry conditions mean that “the availability of fuel to burn is still there in a pretty big way,” says Briana Hill, an information officer with the provincial wildfire service.

But drought, says Hill, has impacts on the landscape that extend well into the future. Arid conditions affect the overall health of forests. “More challenging wildfire seasons tend to follow one, two, three years of drought.” In other words, this year’s shortfall could portend trouble for next year’s wildfire season.

“We’ve been tasked [with] looking at how we transform into a truly 365 days-a-year service,” Hill told Global News, pointing to the new realities presented by climate change.

In the Fraser Valley, where it feels close to 30 degrees in October, farmers are optimistic that the rains will eventually come, said Stan Vander Waal, a local flower grower and Chair of the BC Agriculture Council.

But further north, in B.C.’s Peace Country, or in the Interior, “they’re praying for rain now,” Vander Waal said. “They need [that] fall and winter moisture to actually build the moisture in the soils for the coming year.”

Don’t tell that to cattle rancher David Zehnder. “I’m looking out over some of our pasture land and it’s brown,” Zehnder said from his ranch near Invermere, B.C.

Usually, fall rains help replenish the soils, but it’s been so hot and dry again this year, they haven’t been able to produce enough feed for the cattle. That means that they’ve had to resort to buying feed, a huge expense, for a second straight year.

The land is parched on David Zehnder’s ranch near Invermere, B.C. The drought conditions are making it challenging to provide enough feed for the cattle, so Zehnder will have to purchase feed for a second straight year.

David Zehnder

The droughts hitting B.C., and those that have affected West-Central Europe and parts of China, are 20 times more likely because of human-caused climate change, according to a new report by World Weather Attribution, a group made up of international researchers.

Climatologists take pains not to attribute extreme weather events to climate change. There is, however, little doubt that seasons, and the weather patterns associated with them, are shifting on the West Coast because of the climate crisis.

This fall, that change is being driven by a significant area of warm water in the Pacific Ocean pushing against the West Coast of North America. It’s responsible for the pattern that’s locking in the summer-like conditions, climatologists say.

Environment Canada’s temperature anomaly forecasts predict warm waters in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of B.C. well past the middle of October.

Environment Canada

“When the ocean is warmer, air temperatures inland, especially in the coastal regions, tend to be warmer than normal,” said Nicholas Bond, a climatologist and research scientist at the University of Washington.

The jet stream, bands of fast-flowing wind in the upper reaches of the atmosphere, is another related factor that weather experts are looking closely at.

Meteorologist Kristi Gordon said that as the Arctic warms up, the difference in temperature between the polar regions of the planet and the warmer, equatorial zones becomes less and less.

That reduction in temperature gradient between the Arctic and the equator in turn weakens the jet stream. A weaker jet is less capable of disrupting persistent weather patterns.

“The jet stream just doesn’t have the strength anymore to move itself out of that pattern,” Gordon said. Extreme weather patterns, as a result, can get ‘stuck.’

“It just doesn’t seem to want to go away,” agreed University of British Columbia climatologist Michael Pidwirny, referring to a locked-in pattern of high pressure spawned by those warm ocean temperatures and abnormal jet streams. As a result, clouds, and precipitation, are unable to form, he said.

On the ground, the effects of those changes hit people hard. It might mean minor inconveniences like not being able to water your lawn or wash your car. Then there are the more serious implications. Farmers have to adapt. Salmon stocks are hit. Air quality takes a dive.

From food security to entire ways of life, what’s happening is having dangerous ripple effects, said William Housty of the Heiltsuk Nation.

“When that domino starts to fall, all those other dominoes collapse too.”

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More 'police' centres run by China found around world: NGO – CTV News



A human rights organization says it has found dozens of additional overseas Chinese “police service centres” around the world, including at least two more in Canada.

In a new report released Monday called “Patrol and Persuade,” the Spain-based non-governmental organization Safeguard Defenders says it used open source statements from People’s Republic of China authorities, Chinese police and state media to document at least 48 additional stations.

This on top of the 54 stations revealed in September, bringing the total number of documented centres to 102 in 53 countries. Some host countries also have co-operated in setting up these centres, Safeguard Defenders says.

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The stations are accused of targeting Chinese nationals living abroad, particularly those who allegedly committed crimes in China, in order to coerce them to return home.

Safeguard Defenders reports that along with the three police “stations” previously confirmed in the Greater Toronto Area, which are operated out of the Chinese city of Fuzhou, it has found newly confirmed centres in Vancouver, operated out of Wenzhou, and another whose location is unknown but operates out of Nantong.

In a statement to CTV National News on Monday, the RCMP said it’s “investigating reports of criminal activity in relation to the so-called ‘police’ stations.” No further details were provided.

A similar statement was given by the police force to CP24 in late October following the previous report of Toronto-area stations.

The consulate general of the People’s Republic of China said at the time that the stations are to help Chinese citizens renew their driver’s licences, given many of them are unable to return to China due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and that the “local volunteers” facilitating this “are not Chinese police officers.”

However, Safeguard Defenders says the vast majority of the newly documented stations were set up starting in 2016, years before the pandemic began.

In its previous report in September, Safeguard Defenders found that Chinese police “persuaded” 230,000 claimed fugitives to return to China “voluntarily” between April 2021 and July 2022. Among the tactics used, Safeguard Defenders said, included denying suspects’ children in China the right to education and punishing relatives through “guilt by association.”

The U.S. Department of Justice accused seven people in October of a yearslong campaign to harass and intimidate a U.S. resident to return to China.

While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attended the G20 summit in Indonesia in November, his office told reporters that he had raised concerns with Chinese President Xi Jinping of “interference” in Canada.

Asked about what specific interference he referred to, Trudeau later told the House of Commons, “We’ve known for many years that there are consistent engagements by representatives of the Chinese government into Canadian communities, with local media, reports of illicit Chinese police stations.”

With files from CP24 Web Content Writer Joanna Lavoie, CTV National News Vancouver Bureau Chief Melanie Nagy, CTV News Toronto Videojournalist Allison Hurst and The Canadian Press 

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Trudeau 'extremely concerned' about report Canadian parts ended up in Iranian drones – National | – Global News



Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is “extremely concerned” over a report Canadian-made parts have been discovered in Iranian drones used by Russia in its war on Ukraine.

Trudeau shared his worries with reporters in Ingersoll, Ont., Monday after the Globe and Mail reported on Sunday the discovery by a non-profit organization, Statewatch. Its “Trap Aggressor” investigation detailed last month that an antenna manufactured by an Ottawa-based Tallysman Wireless was featured in the Iranian Shahed-136 attack drone.

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Read more:

Canada sanctions Iranian drone makers amid Russian strikes in Ukraine

Click to play video: 'Federal government ‘extremely concerned’ about report Canadian-made parts found in Iranian attack drones used in Russia: Trudeau'

Federal government ‘extremely concerned’ about report Canadian-made parts found in Iranian attack drones used in Russia: Trudeau

The drones have been used recently by Russia in Ukraine as Moscow increases its strikes on the country’s energy and civilian infrastructure.

“We’re obviously extremely concerned about those reports because even as Canada is producing extraordinary, technological innovations … we do not want them to participate in Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine, or Iran’s contributions to that,” Trudeau said.

“We have strict export permits in place for sensitive technology that are rigorously enforced, and that’s why we’ve been following up with this company, that’s fully cooperating, to figure out exactly how items that we’re not supposed to get into the hands of anyone like the Iranian government actually ended up there.”

The Shahed-136 is manufactured by Shahed Aviation Industries, one of two Iranian drone makers Ottawa sanctioned last month for reportedly supplying Russia with its lethal drones. After denying reports it was supplying Moscow, Iran acknowledged for the first time on Nov. 5 it had sent Moscow drones before the Feb. 24 war began.

Click to play video: 'Russian missiles smash apartment block in Ukraine’s Mykolaiv: mayor'

Russian missiles smash apartment block in Ukraine’s Mykolaiv: mayor

It denied continuing to supply drones to Russia. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has accused Iran of lying, previously saying Kyiv’s forces were destroying at least 10 of its drones every day.

Aside from its Iranian-made engine, the Shahed-136 consists entirely of foreign components, Statewatch said in its report. It cited Ukrainian intelligence managing to identify more than 30 European and American companies’ components, with most parts coming from the United States.

A drone is seen in the sky seconds before it fired on buildings in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Oct. 17.

Efrem Lukatsky/AP

Drones like the Shahed are packed with explosives and can be preprogrammed with a target’s GPS coordinates. They can nosedive into targets and explode on impact like a missile, hence why they have become known as suicide drones or kamikaze drones.

Shaheds are relatively cheap, costing roughly US$20,000 each — a small fraction of the cost of a full-size missile.

Read more:

‘Game-changing’ drone warfare in Ukraine may tee up new phase of conflict: official

Drones “provide a critical capability” to exploit vulnerabilities in defences, and their use may be a prelude to a new phase in the conflict, U.S. Army Lt.-Col. Paul Lushenko previously told Global News.

Gyles Panther, president at Tallysman, told the Globe the company is not “complicit in this usage” and “is 100-per cent committed” to supporting Ukraine.

Ottawa is working to understand how the parts ended up in the drones, and wants to “ensure” incidents like this don’t “happen again in the future,” Trudeau said.

&copy 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Available Nexus appointments Canada



There’s good news for those looking to expedite their border crossing experience.

To mitigate the ongoing backlog issues at Canadian border crossings, border officials have reopened two Nexus and Free and Secure Trade (FAST) enrolment centres in Canada.

It’s the first time any Nexus and FAST offices have been open in Canada since the pandemic began, and federal officials say more offices will be opening in the future.

The Nexus program, which has over 1.7 million members, is designed to speed up the border clearance process for its members, while also freeing up more time for Canadian and U.S. border security agents to tend to unknown or potentially higher-risk travellers and goods.

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The benefit of Nexus is that it allows for those travelling between the two countries to save time, skipping long lineups and using the shorter, dedicated Nexus lanes when crossing the border, as well as designated kiosks and eGates at major airports, and quicker processing at marine crossings.

Reopening these two Canadian centres is the first phase of a larger plan to address the lengthy Nexus and FAST backlog, and will increase availability for applicants to book appointments to interview for Nexus pre-approval, the Canada Border Service Agency said in a statement Monday.

Those looking to get Nexus approval can now schedule interviews, by appointment only, at the Lansdowne, Ont. (Thousand Islands Bridge) and Fort Erie, Ont. (Peace Bridge) enrolment centres, through the trusted traveller programs portal.

Travellers looking to apply will still need to complete a new two-step process, and the Canadian offices don’t mean applicants won’t have to cross the border to finalize the process.

If conditionally approved for Nexus status, travellers can complete the first part of the interview at one of the two reopened Canadian enrolment centres, then complete the second interview portion just across the border at the corresponding U.S. enrolment centres on the other side. For Lansdowne, that’s Alexandria Bay, N.Y., and for Fort Erie, it’s Buffalo, N.Y.

To become conditionally approved, both the CBSA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have to grant approval prior to scheduling the interview portion, and interviews need to be conducted on both sides of the border.

“Nexus and FAST are a win-win for Canada and the United States – and we’re working hard to find creative solutions to reduce wait times, address the backlog and help more travellers get Nexus cards,” said Marco Mendicino, minister of public safety, in a press release. “This new, two-step process is further proof of our commitment to it. We’ll keep finding solutions that leverage technology and streamline renewals.”

Applicants also have the option to complete a one-step process and schedule complete interviews at enrolment centres in the U.S., which may be a preferred option for those who don’t live near the two centres currently open in Canada.

And those who are already members of the Nexus program and are awaiting an interview can renew their membership ahead of its expiry date in order to retain their travel benefits for up to five years.

More centres are expected to open at select land border crossings in the future, as this initial phase carries on, CBSA says.

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