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  • Wed. April 19 - Fairy Creek blockaders catch a break in court

Wed. April 19 - Fairy Creek blockaders catch a break in court

Plus, expect a property tax increase, Victoria

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The Victoria Foundation's vital signs survey for 2023 is out today. It provides an interesting snapshot of the region with rigorous data that often shows the broader trend of a region. It’s also one of the sponsors in today’s newsletter. Last year, it was valuable to our reports on health, housing, environmental sustainability, and the arts. You can participate in the survey here.

The Capital Daily Team

BC government prosecutors withdraw more charges against Fairy Creek blockaders

📸 RCMP C-IRG members prepare to clear a blockade on May 17, 2021. Photo: Michael John Lo / Capital Daily

In a Tuesday hearing, 10 charges of contempt of court levied against Fairy Creek Blockaders in 2021 were withdrawn in front of Justice Douglas Thompson.

“The Crown is basically still reviewing files,” said Karen Mirsky, a defense lawyer representing some of the arrestees.

But Mirsky estimates that at least 150 of the remaining 200 or so charges will be withdrawn. More than 400 people were charged, and more than 1,100 arrested, a Canadian record for the number of arrests in a civil disobedience.

On Feb. 8, Ryan Henderson, a 20-year-old Anishinaabe person from the Interior, who was removed by RCMP from a contraption and arrested last summer, was acquitted of all charges. The BC Court of Appeals ruled that the RCMP failed to adequately inform Henderson of the terms of the injunction at the time of the arrest.

Rainforest Flying Squad—one of the organizers of the blockades—said that prosecutors are likely to withdraw more charges. Case hearings have been delayed since Henderson’s ruling in February.

More on the case, and the injunction language, at The Westshore.

Capital Bulletin

☁️ Today’s weather: Mainly cloudy with a 60% chance of showers and a risk of a thunderstorm in the afternoon. High 9C / low 1C.

🗳️ Province is amending electoral districts: In response to the Electoral Boundaries Commission’s report, the province is changing the Electoral Districts Act to add six new districts, including one that follows the municipal boundaries of the City of Langford and the district of Highlands.


Greater Victoria records 35 deaths due to toxic drug supply so far in 2023

📸 : BC’s Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe/ Flickr

A recent report from BC's coroner service paints another grim picture of the toxic drug crisis in the province, and on Vancouver Island.

On average, 6.4 people are dying from overdoses every day in BC, with half of these deaths occurring in private residences, social and supportive housing, or shelters. Greater Victoria is among Vancouver and Surrey as the three BC townships experiencing the highest number of illicit drug deaths, recording 6% of the total in 2023 so far.

Vancouver Island recorded 116 deaths linked to the toxic drug supply: 37 of which occurred on the South Island. For the first time, the Central Island is leading in reported deaths due to toxic drugs, with 53 deaths so far. “An urgent response to this crisis is required and overdue,” said BC chief coroner Lisa Lapointe in a press release.

Last Wednesday, April 12, marked the seventh anniversary of the crisis’ public declaration.

Moms Stop The Harm, an advocacy group consisting of those who have lost family members to the toxic drug crisis, gathered at the Ministry of Health building on Blanshard Street last week to demand better solutions.

In September, representatives for the group told Capital Daily there is no adequate safe supply, no adequate detox and treatment options, and no proper decriminalization for those suffering from addiction.

Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Jennifer Whiteside released a statement in regards to the anniversary. “Our government is urgently working to expand supports and programs to deliver the integrated mental-health and addiction services that British Columbians need,” she said.

Close to 12,000 people have lost their lives due to an unregulated drug supply since April 2016, and in the past two months, at least 374 deaths reported are believed to be caused by toxic drugs.

The crisis continues to set staggering records, year by year.

Between January and March of 2023, 596 lives have been lost—only slightly behind 2022 (599) as the most lives taken in the first three months of a calendar year.

The coroner service also reported updated numbers from 2022, which records 2,314 lives lost, 17% of which occurred on the South Island. Overdoses remain as one of the leading causes of unnatural deaths in BC.



Promoting climate-conscious ocean and marine innovation

Pacific Canada’s new hub for the sustainable blue economy is at an exciting point in its trajectory. On the heels of a $2 million BC government investment, COAST (Centre for Ocean Applied Sustainable Technologies) has also welcomed Jason Goldsworthy as its inaugural Executive Director.

“There’s a swell of ocean-based innovation in Pacific Canada—from research to commercialization—that corresponds directly with the need to preserve and enhance our traditional ocean sectors, and develop ocean-based strategies to mitigate and adapt to climate change,” says Goldsworthy. “COAST raises the profile of established and startup ocean tech and marine companies and connects talent, capital, and partnerships for innovation and global expansion.”

Learn more about COAST, sign up for the newsletter and watch COAST Talks at CanadaCoast.ca.

Capital Picks

🎸 Sunset Rubdown at Capital Ballroom: The art rock music group from Montreal is headed by the Island’s Spencer Krug, who Capital Daily profiled in the winter. Doors 8pm. [Tickets]

🏡 An exciting new collection of modern homes offering the flexibility to fit your lifestyle. Start your dream in the Southlands at Royal Bay. Register now.*

🎼 Arbutus Singers 25th Anniversary Choir Concert: The 60-member Victoria-based choir will perform selections from Phantom of the Opera, Dear Evan Hansen, Jesus Christ Superstar, and more. The show kicks off at 7:30pm at Alix Goolden Hall. [Tickets]

😂 Improv + Stand up comedy, all in one. OK DOPE productions presents Entertainment Village and comedian Ola Dada! at Hecklers tomorrow night, April 20. Improvers team up with standup comics and perform improv inspired by their jokes for one of the most hilarious nights in Victoria. [Tickets]

💪 Financial success means different things to different people: Victoria-area Portfolio Managers Brian Howe and Gareth Dickson at Odlum Brown Limited can help you define and achieve your financial goals.*

*Sponsored Listing

In Other News

📊 Victoria property tax increase will be 6.15% for residential and business, but much higher for industrial
The increase will be under $200 for most homeowners and under $500 for the average business. The Downtown Victoria Business Association’s Jeff Bray told the Times Colonist that the increase was manageable given that the city’s budget also had large investments in downtown. Councillors had concerns about the rise of 22% for light industry and 37% for heavy industry, but concluded that it reflected property value increases and that shifting any more of the share onto residents was worth avoiding. The Ralmax Group, owner of the shipyard and other Inner Harbour businesses, has the city’s only heavy industry classification and told CTV of feeling “singled out.”

💸Colwood mayor and council give themselves a raise
Colwood’s mayor and council gave themselves a 57.4% pay raise in a unanimous vote this Monday. Annual salaries for mayor and council will increase to $55,785 and $27,892 respectively, a slightly lower increase than what was proposed by former mayor Rob Martin in 2022, according The Westshore. Colwood Mayor Doug Kobayashi, who had opposed the previous raise as a councillor, was “noticeably uncomfortable” with the action, according to the Times Colonist. Kobayashi unseated Martin in part on campaigning against the proposed pay changes. The changes came after the hiring of an HR consultant to base the increase on provincial guidelines regarding municipal pay. [Times Colonist]

🏝️Conservation lands on Salt Spring Island grow by another 161 hectares
A Reginald Hill property previously held by a single family for decades, will now become a new conservation area under the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC). It joins a quilt of various undeveloped and protected land on the south side of Salt Spring Island, including land held by Tsawout, municipal and provincial parks, and two other conservation areas held by the NCC that contain rare and threatened coastal Douglas-fir ecosystems. A portion of the $500,000 needed to purchase the property was donated by the Susan Bloom trust, according to the Gulf Island Driftwood. Bloom, a philanthropist and conservationist who died in 2021, had previously donated 90 acres—about 70%—of Clayoquot Island to the NCC in 2016, according to the Times Colonist.

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In Case You Missed It

🏒 A Leafs fan in the BC legislature: Adam Olsen, MLA and die hard Leafs fan, traces his fandom back to the Victoria Maple Leafs. [Capital Daily]

📣 This survey is for all residents of Greater Victoria! Take Victoria’s 2023 Vital Signs survey today for a chance to win prizes.*

💻 Web platform helping Indigenous youth learn arts and tech: Victoria-based Nodin Cutfeet won the 2023 Vancouver UX Awards’ top prize for his project Waniskâw, an artistic tech platform for Indigenous youth. [Victoria Tech Journal]

*Sponsored Listing

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