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Hardships and kindnesses as BC fires rage

The BC fire map lists many “Wildfires of Note,” including 16 in the Kamloops area, 1 in the Northwest, 5 near Cariboo, 5 in the Southeast, and 4 near Prince George.

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By Lee Harding

As fires rage across British Columbia, thousands of residents have been forced to flee their homes, including two who shared their stories with Western Standard

Karen was displaced from her farm a 40-minute drive northwest of Vernon. She is married to a prominent professional and asked that her last name be withheld.

“We saw the fires igniting. And I don’t know if they really jumped on it because of all the other fires that were happening around, especially with that Lytton fire,” Karen told Western Standard.

“We prayed and were asking the Lord for protection and things were looking okay. And then all of a sudden, we were all on the evacuation alert…They came in on Sunday… around 1:30 [am] to tell us that we had to leave. And so we were already packed and were heading up the driveway, and spent the night at my husband’s office,” said Karen, who volunteers for an evangelistic organization.

“A colleague of my husband, he called up…and asked him if [his] house was empty. And they said, yeah, it was. Nobody had been in it for months…It’s very perfect. Just the timing of how the Lord allowed everything to just unfold, that we don’t have to worry about going into the hotel. We didn’t have to worry about going into a place that people might have COVID.”

Karen was allowed a visit home when the winds were favourable but had to leave again. Authorities are providing security in the area.

“Last Sunday night we came back because we wanted to check on our place because we have our horses and cows in the hay field,” Karen said.

“The animals are good, farm is good, everything looks really good. The [authorities] set up the water around the house, so we’re all protected. Right now there’s a whole bunch of water. We have our irrigation system…so that we can pump water on the house and the trees that are surrounding us.”

Sandy shared her story but asked for a pseudonym. She fled at 11:30 pm on August 1 and received shelter in Kelowna.

“I have to say the Salvation Army is amazing. [They] gave three nights hotel and meals and $200 per person for clothes and toiletries. My daughter literally left in her slippers, and I unfortunately grabbed all tops. We were told to only take three days’ clothes,” she told Western Standard.

“I called insurance and now I’m concerned as if these communities burn it will cost trillions. My home insurance policy is two million [dollars] and I don’t think the insurance company has enough money.”

The mother of two said “The BC government is a joke,” and was critical of the province’s fire response.

“Horgan waited to last minute and now [it’s] too late for water bombers – zero visibility,” Sandy said.

“They make us check the cordemergency.ca or BC fire map or the regional district for evac notices. No amber alerts, no air raid sirens, we literally had to keep checking websites. At least Kamloops paid into an app that gave their community notices to their phones…. Many seniors don’t do technology and they were the ones that had no clue and waited to last minute.”

If anyone pillaged Sandy’s home in Kamloops, they could survive most anything but the fires themselves.

“I’m so, so pissed off as I’ve been hoarding for 4 four years prepping – medical supplies, food, toiletries,” Sandy said, estimating the value of her stash at $20,000.

“My end of the world pantry. Had to leave it and 50 packages of toilet paper, 30 bottles laundry [soap, and] 5 cases of medical supplies. I was hoping I could help a lot of people when the time came.”

The BC fire map lists many “Wildfires of Note,” including 16 in the Kamloops area, 1 in the Northwest, 5 near Cariboo, 5 in the Southeast, and 4 near Prince George.

Lee Harding is a Saskatchewan-based correspondent for Western Standard and former B.C. resident.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. K

    August 9, 2021 at 7:34 am

    What a horrible country we live in. We don’t know how to do anything, never mind fight fires on time. Everything is reactionary in this ridiculous clown-world hellscape.

  2. Left Coast

    August 8, 2021 at 4:07 pm

    As long as Canadians keep electing absolute Kno-Nothings to lead their Provinces & Country . . . the future will be bleak . . . we have been in a Downward Spiral since 2015 . . . wake the hell up folks.

    Remember when . . . .
    World’s Richest Middle Class . . . NY Times
    World’s Best Reputation . . . Reputation Institute
    Best Wage Growth in G7 Nations . . . 2007-2012
    Best Oilfield Salaries in the World . . .
    Best Oilfield Enviro Regs in the World . . . Harvard Bus School
    Best Country to do Business . . . . Forbes
    World’s Best Debt to GDP Ratio , . . OECD

    ALL of that is in the REAR VIEW Mirror today Canada . . . .

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Vulnerable Albertans 18+ can receive fourth COVID booster

Eligible individuals can begin booking fourth dose appointments beginning January 20 with AHS or at participating pharmacies by using the Alberta vaccine booking system or by calling 811.

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Those 18 and older who have specific immunocompromising conditions can now book their fourth booster five months after receiving their third dose, said Alberta Health.

The decision announced on Tuesday in the provincial COVID-19 address is in line with recommendations from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) and the Alberta Advisory Committee on Immunization (AACI).

“We remain committed to protecting Albertans from the Omicron variant, and vaccinations continue to be our best tool in preventing severe outcomes,” said Premier Jason Kenney in a statement.

“We continue to rely on the latest research to guide our decision-making, and with evidence showing immunocompromised individuals benefit from a fourth dose, we are pleased to provide them.”

Eligible individuals can begin booking fourth dose appointments beginning January 20 with AHS or at participating pharmacies by using the Alberta vaccine booking system or by calling 811.

“I know that the approximately 80,000 Albertans who live with immunocompromising conditions will be relieved to receive these additional doses,” said Minister of Health Jason Copping.

“At the same time, the best way for all of us to protect ourselves and one another is to continue getting whatever dose we are eligible for. I encourage all Albertans to continue to sign up for their booster doses as soon as they can.”

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said the fourth COVID-19 dose will help “individuals with certain immunocompromising conditions” and will provide “additional protection” against the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.

Qualifying conditions include:

  • Transplant recipients, including solid organ transplants and hematopoietic stem cell transplants.
  • Individuals with malignant hematologic disorders and non-hematologic malignant solid tumors prior to receiving or receiving active treatment (chemotherapy, targeted therapies, immunotherapy or having received previous COVID-19 vaccines while on active treatment), excluding individuals receiving solely hormonal therapy, radiation therapy or a surgical intervention.
  • Individuals being treated with an anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody such as Rituximab.
  • Individuals with chronic kidney disease on dialysis.
  • Recipients of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T-cell therapy.
  • Individuals with moderate to severe primary immunodeficiency (e.g., DiGeorge syndrome, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome).
  • Individuals with Stage 3 or advanced HIV infection and those with acquired COVID-19 immunization.
  • Individuals undergoing immunosuppressive therapies (e.g., anti-B cell therapies, high-dose systemic corticosteroids, alkylating agents, antimetabolites, or tumornecrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors and other biologic agents).
  • Individuals on certain medications for autoimmune diseases, including rituximab, ocrelizumab and ofatumumab.

“Youth ages 12 to 17 with the preceding conditions continue to be eligible for third doses. Fourth doses have not yet been approved for this age group,” said the release adding, “third doses have not been approved for youth under the age of 18.”

Hinshaw said the province has recorded 3279 new cases within the last 24 hours while 8995 tests were recorded for a positivity rate of 39%. Hinshaw has earlier stated actual cases are likely 10 times higher due to lack of testing.

Hinshaw also confirmed 1,089 are currently in hospital — 51% of those hospitalized are due to COVID-19 while 49% are cases with COVID-19. Currently, there are 104 people in ICU — 74% due to COVID-19 while 26% are cases with COVID-19. Nine deaths were reported in the last 24 hours.

Melanie Risdon is a reporter with the Western Standard
mrisdon@westernstandardonline.com

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AHS uses undercover agents to bust restaurant for accepting dog photos instead of QR codes

The test shoppers entered the restaurant at different times on January 11 and were permitted access after showing a photo of a dog and their personal identification.

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Alberta Health Services (AHS) has shut down a Red Deer restaurant for allowing patrons to show dog photos in place of proof of vaccination.

The Granary was ordered closed to indoor dining on Friday after complaints to an AHS executive officer resulted in two test shoppers busting staff for accepting photographs of a dog instead of scanning vaccine passport QR codes.

The test shoppers entered the restaurant at different times on January 11 and were permitted access after showing a photo of a dog and their personal identification. It was reported a staffer pretended to scan QR codes with a tablet.

The owners have been told the indoor dining area is to remain closed until they produce a written plan on how they plan to implement the restriction exemption program moving forward.

The owners will also have to provide confirmation they have trained staff about the program and will be required to attend an administrative hearing with Environmental Public Health.

The restaurant took to its Facebook page on Friday to explain the circumstances to its patrons and offered up free coffee for all to-go orders throughout the weekend.

“To our valued guests, we had an unfortunate circumstance at our front door which involved one of our underage hostesses, and the requirements for the REP program.  We are taking the weekend to retrain and regroup,” it said.

“We look forward to serving you again as soon as we are ready to reopen.  In closing, we would like to remind everyone of the tremendous pressure being placed on front staff, and please remember to be kind.”

The restaurant has since opened again and is currently offering free rapid testing on site.

Melanie Risdon is a reporter with the Western Standard
mrisdon@westernstandardonline.com

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MLA Barnes demands greater punishment for corrupt politicians

“This suspension is a staggering under reaction designed to shield one of the Premier’s cronies,” said Barnes.

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Independent Alberta MLA Drew Barnes is outraged that Justice Minister Kaycee Madu was only being suspended after he called Edmonton’s police chief about a ticket he received.

That action led to Madu being suspended Monday night by Alberta Primer Jason Kenney.

“This suspension is a staggering under reaction designed to shield one of the Premier’s cronies,” said Barnes, the MLA for Cypress-Medicine Hat.

“It is inexcusable that any minister’s first instinct upon receiving such a ticket is to swing influence in an attempt to get his ticket fixed. It’s just another indicator that the culture of Redford-era cronyism remains alive and well within Premier’ Kenney’s inner circle.”

After being fined $300 for speeding in an Edmonton playground zone, Madu phoned Dale McFee, the city’s chief of police, to discuss the ticket with him. 

“It is particularly galling that this minister is currently overseeing changes that will deny procedural fairness for thousands of Albertans when they face similar traffic fines,” said Barnes.

This follows the removal of traffic courts in Alberta, the previously most accessible part of the justice system now no longer available to citizens.

“Under this minister, you are considered guilty until proven innocent, unless, of course, you happen to have the local police chief on speed-dial,” said Barnes.

“It seems the minister, like the Premier, considers himself above the law. Albertans deserve better. The real question is, why hasn’t he been fired yet?”

“Over the past year, Premier Kenney has repeatedly punished both ministers and MLAs for daring to question his leadership, but when a real case of misuse of power comes along concerning one of his handpicked cronies, the fix is in. That’s not justice; that’s cronyism.”

McFee said he received the call about the ticket from Madu, saying Madu brought up the issue of racial profiling by police to stop drivers.

“This is the Minister who continues to encourage legal action against pastors and small business owners for allegedly violating the very same health restrictions that the Premier and his cronies violated on the Sky Palace patio,” said Barnes.

Ewa Sudyk is a reporter with the Western Standard
esudyk@westernstandardonline.com

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