On a quiet crescent in suburban Ottawa, Grace Roswell is seeing red.
Crowbar in hand, Grace is celebrating her 12th birthday inside the crimson-lined Vengeance Van, a rage room on wheels that shatters neighbourhood calm with explosions of glass and booming bass beats.
“It doesn’t want to break,” Grace says, staring down a porcelain angel that stubbornly refuses to perish.
“You might need a sledgehammer,” offers Bren Walker, Vengeance Van’s owner.
One triumphant swing and the winged seraph falls, decapitated. Grace allows herself a sheepish smile, her home-school stresses already flitting away.
The ‘Vengeance Van’
In a year of periodic lockdowns and pent-up frustrations, the Vengeance Van has taken off as a novelty recreation service amid the COVID-19 pandemic, offering a high-energy outlet for letting off a little destructive steam.
Walker, 33, founded the mobile “rage cage” after his seven-year-old business hosting black-lit Nerf battles for kids and corporate teams shut down amid lockdown restrictions and physical distancing requirements. It’s closed for the foreseeable future.
“I was about to lose my shirt,” he said.
Walker mowed lawns and built decks while saving toward a 24-foot box truck. He transformed the interior with red particle-board panelling, armed it with “weapons” like golf clubs and lead pipes, then added speakers and protective gear.
Launched last summer, the Vengeance Van appears to be filling a pandemic-shaped void in the rage room market — Walker is fielding 20 to 30 calls a week.
“It’s just been relentless,” he said, noting bookings shot up after Ontario shut down in late November.
“We started off kind of as an experiment, and it just developed and developed … People are very angry, they’re frustrated.”
Some just want a bit of physical fun. Others covet a renewed sense of control — even dominance — amid the feeling of cloistered helplessness imposed by the pandemic.
“We get a lot of requests for construction material. `My ex works in construction … so I want to break drills and drywall,”‘ Walker said.
Demand is booming
Demand is so high that he’s planning a sister ship: a mobile archery and axe-throwing truck — “Bow ‘n Throw On the Go.”
The smashables, plucked from estate sales or suppliers who would otherwise haul the items to the dump, run the gamut from ceramics to tables, televisions and the odd cuckoo clock.
“I liked smashing the mirror, because I liked how it exploded,” says Grace.
“My favourite was the bottle against the wall,” her mom, Danielle, chimes in.
A VCR and padded chair prove the most resilient foes, with Grace and her sister Emma, 13, recoiling slightly as their father, Darren, kneecaps the furniture legs with a hammer.
Ice Cube lyrics issues from the speakers: “You can do it, put your back into it.”
For the Roswell family, it was about the release as much as the novelty.
Ottawa Morning5:24Vengeance Van
“It’s been a year now and there’s been extra stresses and stuff. So to be able to get out and get some of that stress out and smashing stuff, it was great,” Danielle says.
Spirits seem high and safety precautions protect the sisters as they launch a dinner plate and tea saucer against the pockmarked wall Frisbee-style, their eyes shielded by visored headgear.
“We’ve had little cuts and bruises here and there, but no one’s ever been maimed,” Walker says.
The weapons rack — from hatchet to Easton baseball bat — is sanitized after every session. Hairnets are provided, along with disposable gloves for those who don’t bring their own.
Bookings cost $100 for 30 minutes and $175 for an hour, with the number of items at customers’ disposal ranging from 35 to 55. Insurance is the main expense, as well as gas; an extra fee attends visits outside the Ottawa area.
Whether the catharsis helps with mental health is far from certain.
A healthy outlet
Patrick Keelan, a Calgary-based psychologist in private practice, doubts that violence against inanimate objects provides a healthy emotional outlet.
“The notion of catharsis with aggressive behaviour” is not supported by research, he said, warning of the potential for “harmful effects.”
He said studies suggest that aggressive activity begets more of it, instilling habits of hostility rather than releasing it like a valve.
Keelan cited the concept of an “anger iceberg,” where surface acrimony belies deeper causes that should be confronted head-on, such as frustrations at work or at home. He suggested more productive ways to vent include physical activity like martial arts, football and other sports.
“If it’s a one-time thing that’s in good fun ‘I don’t have a problem with it,” he qualified.
Kevin Bennett, a psychology professor at Penn State University and a fellow at the Centre for Urban Design and Mental Health in London also discourages the idea of rage rooms — stationary or mobile — as a therapeutic prescription.
“I don’t know of any counsellor who would say to their patient, `You’re feeling anxiety and frustration, I want you to go out and smash wine bottles and glass tables and you will feel better in the long run,”‘ Bennett said.
“The good news is, for most people, it is a reasonable way to spend an evening. It’s probably fun,” he added.
“I would love to try it, to be honest.”
Back in Ottawa, Grace feels her birthday wish was worth it.
“I’ve been less active because of the COVID restrictions,” she says. “But this really helped.”
FDA vote expected on Johnson & Johnson vaccine booster shots – CNN
13 more die of COVID-19 in B.C. as 667 new cases confirmed – CBC.ca
British Columbia announced 667 new cases of COVID-19 and 13 more deaths on Friday, the most deaths in one day since Feb. 3.
In a written statement, the provincial government said there are currently 5,128 active cases of people infected with the novel coronavirus in B.C.
A total of 367 people are in hospital, with 152 in intensive care.
Overall hospitalizations, which typically lag behind spikes and dips in new cases, are up by 1.9 per cent from last Friday, when 360 people were in hospital with the disease and about 27 per cent from a month ago when 288 people were in hospital.
The number of patients in intensive care is up by about 11 per cent from 137 a week ago and by the same percentage from a month ago when 137 people were also in the ICU.
The provincial death toll from COVID-19 is now 2,055 lives lost out of 196,433 confirmed cases to date.
As of Friday, 89 per cent of those 12 and older in B.C. have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 83 per cent a second dose.
So far, eight million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, including 3.8 million second doses.
There are a total of 19 active outbreaks in assisted living, long-term and acute care. There has been one new outbreak at GR Baker Memorial Hospital in Quesnel. The outbreak at Good Samaritan Delta View Care Centre has been declared over.
The acute care hospitals currently affected by COVID outbreaks are Mission Memorial Hospital, University Hospital of Northern B.C., GR Baker Memorial Hospital, and Tofino General Hospital.
More than 90 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and three people have died as a result of an outbreak at a care home in Burnaby, and officials say the death toll is expected to grow.
The majority of cases at the Willingdon Care Centre are among residents, according to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control. Health Minister Adrian Dix said Thursday he expects the number of deaths will rise to 10 over the next several days due to a delay in data reporting.
New northern restrictions
More restrictions for the northern part of the province came into effect Thursday at midnight and will last until at least Nov. 19 in an attempt to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the region.
Restrictions in the region now include limiting indoor and outdoor gatherings to fully vaccinated people only, capping the number of people who can gather in any setting, moving worship services online, cutting off alcohol sales earlier at night and mandating masks and safety plans at organized events.
Health officials are strongly recommending people stay in their community unless it is essential for work or medical reasons.
To help reduce hospitalizations, new orders for <a href=”https://twitter.com/Northern_Health?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@Northern_Health</a> (specific areas only) will come into effect Oct 14 at midnight. Help keep your community safe – get vaccinated today.<br><br>Find a clinic: <a href=”https://t.co/vp7cpfUzcj”>https://t.co/vp7cpfUzcj</a><br>Learn more about the orders: <a href=”https://t.co/8Rz6gITRYu”>https://t.co/8Rz6gITRYu</a>
Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry continues to reiterate the importance of immunization to reduce the risk of illness and death due to COVID-19.
From Oct. 7 to 13, people who were not fully vaccinated accounted for 68.3 per cent of cases and from Sept. 30 to Oct. 13, they accounted for 76.3 per cent of hospitalizations, according to the province.
Anyone who has not yet received a shot is encouraged to do so immediately. Appointments can be made online through the Get Vaccinated portal, by calling 1-833-838-2323, or in-person at any Service B.C. location.
People can also be immunized at walk-in clinics throughout the province.
B.C. health officials are awaiting a federal review of COVID-19 vaccines for five- to 11-year-olds and are encouraging families to register their children now as they anticipate doses being available for this group by early November.
U.S. border town welcomes back fully vaccinated B.C. visitors, but travel hurdles remain – CBC.ca
Businesses in northern Washington state are welcoming back Canadian customers once the United States reopens its land borders, but a B.C. mayor says travellers may face hurdles.
The U.S. is allowing fully vaccinated travellers from Canada to enter the United States by air, land and ferry for non-essential travel starting Nov. 8.
Those entering the U.S. at a land border will be required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or attest to their vaccination status upon request by a border agent. Land travellers do not need to show a negative COVID-19 test, a requirement for air travellers.
Karen Frisbie, Chamber of Commerce president in Oroville, Wash. — a town of more than 19,000 residents bordering Osoyoos in B.C.’s South Okanagan — says her community has been quiet without Canadians travelling south to shop during the pandemic.
“We definitely miss our Canadian neighbours and look forward to having them back,” Frisbie said Friday to host Chris Walker on CBC’s Daybreak South.
Many border towns in Washington state struggled due to COVID-19 restrictions preventing Canadians from travelling across the border. The city of Blaine, for instance, said last August their finances were hit hard after several months without Canadian visitors.
Osoyoos Mayor Sue McKortoff says she can feel the happiness of Canadians who know they’ll be able to visit Oroville.
“A lot of the people in Osoyoos love to go to Oroville — they have their special places [and] restaurants [in Oroville], and they love to go down there for American milk and cheese and beer, and gas sometimes,” McKortoff said on Daybreak South.
But the mayor also strikes a cautious note.
“You still need a PCR test to come back to Canada,” she said, referring to a type of molecular testing. Molecular COVID-19 tests involve methods such a nose swab, or providing a saliva sample.
“You’re not going to go down there for a day, and [you] have to worry about having a PCR test in order to get back through the border.”
Canada still requires arriving travellers to present a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of their entry to Canada, regardless of their point of entry — but labs could take more than 72 hours to issue a test result.
“We need to wait until all of those things have been solved a little bit better before people will even take the chance to go across,” McKortoff said.
LISTEN | Karen Frisbie and Sue McKortoff share their hopes and concerns about U.S. border reopening to Canadians:
Daybreak South5:24What will opening the U.S. border to Canadians mean to border communities? We go to Oroville, Washington and Osoyoos to hear more about the impacts on those cities.
Are you planning to get a flu shot this year? – Castanet.net
10,000 in Waterloo region eligible to get 2nd COVID-19 shot right now, official says – CBC.ca
In ever-evolving NBA, Raptors’ length and athleticism opens doors on defence – Sportsnet.ca
Silver investment demand jumped 12% in 2019
Europe kicks off vaccination programs | All media content | DW | 27.12.2020 – Deutsche Welle
Iran anticipates renewed protests amid social media shutdown
Health11 hours ago
Canada heading for flu season in the middle of fourth wave of COVID-19 – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News
News15 hours ago
China launches second crewed mission to build space station
Tech16 hours ago
Nintendo's Switch Online N64 and Sega Genesis games cost $64 for 12 months in Canada – MobileSyrup
News13 hours ago
Blast at Shi’ite mosque in Afghan city of Kandahar kills dozens
Tech18 hours ago
Amazon-owned Twitch says source code exposed in last week's data breach – Reuters
Art23 hours ago
Adm. Art McDonald tells colleagues he’s exonerated, should return to top military post – Global News
Health11 hours ago
New Zealand vaccinates 2.5% of its people in a day in drive to live with COVID-19
News14 hours ago
Former Boeing chief technical pilot pleads not guilty to fraud charges