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May 2014 Archives

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How much is racism against First Nations tolerated in British Columbia?

Peace River MLA Pat Pimm has apologized for comments he made about First Nations two years ago in an email. (CBC)

Leaked emails from a B.C. government MLA have raised some eyebrows over comments about giving money to "Indians" who don't vote. 

In a July 2012 email obtained by the Globe and Mail, Peace River North MLA Pat Pimm wrote, "here is an opportunity to actually muster up some support for our team, but instead we will ignore it and go out and find some ways to give the Indians more money, which doesn't' get me one vote!"

Pimm has apologized, but critics are calling for more because of what they view as racism contained in the remarks.

We speak to UBC professor of anthropology Charles Menzies about what this incident says about the relationship between First Nations and the rest of British Columbia.

"Why do we still have these ideas?" he asks. "Why do they still bubble up so easily when people are not thinking about and not trying to self-censor?"

Listen to the full interview below:

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Why aren't there more bike racks in downtown Prince George?

bike rack.jpg
The indoor bike rack at Home Sweet Home grocery in downtown Prince George.

Whenever you ride your bike somewhere, there's a few questions you have to ask:

  • what will you wear?
  • what route will you take?
  • where are you going to park when you get there?
That last question can be difficult to answer if you can't find a bike rack. Jillian Merrick is a cycling advocate who estimates she's installed about forty racks over the past few years. She says it can be particularly challenging in downtown Prince George, where a number of factors including a lack of support are getting in the way.

We also visit Homesweet Home Grocery, where the owners have decided to put a bike rack indoors and found it's good for business.

Listen to the full story below:

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Are mosquitoes useful? Or should we just get rid of all of them?

If you could get rid of every mosquito in the world... would you? (The Canadian Press)

It's mosquito season, and that's got us wondering: are mosquitoes an important part of our ecosystem, or can we get rid of them without causing any problems? Andrew speaks to Sonia Shah, the author of The Fever: How Malaria Has Ruled Humankind for 500,000 Years and George speaks to Richard Merritt, a professor of entomology at Michigan State University.

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Part one:

Part two:

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Oil and gas boom gets Fort St John talking about bike lanes

100th Avenue in Fort St John was built to accomodate low-density traffic, but now hundreds of people are commuting every day. (Google Maps)

In Fort St John, an increase in jobs has meant an increase in traffic. 

One stretch of road along 100th Avenue has seen many new offices open, and by some estimates traffic on the street has more than quardrupled over the last few years. This is hundreds of new cars driving along a two-lane road with no passing and deep ditches on either side.

Some people who work on this street have told the city they want a bike path, and the mayor agrees it's a good idea but... it's complicated. Listen to the full story below:

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Grade twelve student planning sit-ins to protest teachers' dispute

An image from Tomm's YouTube video, "It's Our Education"

A grade twelve student in Prince George is organizing sit-ins until teachers and the provincial government make progress in their dispute. Amanda Tomm attends Kelly Road Secondary School. She says students must have a voice in the dispute. 

 "We shouldn't be in-between BCTF and BCSPEA's fight. So I've organized a sit-in on June 2 where everybody gathers in their commons rooms, gyms, or multi-purpose rooms, and they sit there until something happens."

Tomm is organizing the sit-in at her own school, and is encouraging students across the province to do the same. In a Facebook post for the event she writes, "If they kick us out then we will tent it outside but do your best to stay inside (peacefully). We need to protest our rights in a peaceful, mature fashion, in order to make sure our point gets across."

Tomm says job action and lock-outs have already affected her schoolwork. As a badminton player, she is missing some classes to take part in a provincial tournament and has faced challenges making up for missed time. 

"I'm missing a test in Spanish. And the only way I was able to make up that test before I leave was to skip another class. And that was really frustrating." 

Tomm also says she decided to drop chemistry because she can't get extra help during the lunch hour. She worries that will affect her chances of getting into post-secondary programs. 

 Even though Tomm is nearly done with the public school system, she still feels it's important to make a point. 

"Other students will still be affected, so I still think it matters."

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Peace pub paying medical and dental still not able to recruit Canadian workers

The owner of a pub in northeastern B.C. says she's struggling to find enough staff to keep her restaurant open. 

Kelly Barrett owns Jackfish Dundees in Charlie Lake, just north of Fort St. John. She says rapid growth in the area has created a worker shortage.

"Finding Canadian people that are willing to come this far north, has always been a challenge. Usually we get an influx of college students around this time of year looking for summer employment, and we have not had that this year at all."

On sunny days, Barrett likes to open the patio, but in order to do that she needs to shut down a portion of the pub inside because she can't get enough extra staff. 

As it stands, much of Barrett's staff are temporary foreign workers.

Barrett says she's tried to recruit from all over B.C. and Alberta, and that she provides a medical and dental plan along with wages that are above industry averages. 

Restaurants Canada wants ban lifted

Meanwhile, the group representing restaurants owners wants a freeze on temporary foreign workers in the restaurant industry lifted.

"The recent moratorium on temporary foreign workers in the food service industry has turned the labour shortage into a crisis," says Restaurants Canada CEO Garth Whyte.

Whyte is calling for a meeting with the Prime Minister.

Employment Minister Jason Kenney says reforms to the program are needed, and there needs to be more scrutiny to make sure the use of temporary foreign workers isn't artificially decreasing wages.

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How to make Prince George a bike-friendly city

bike roads.jpg
There are still major sections of Prince George without bike lanes.

There's still work to be done, but Prince George is becoming a more bike-friendly city according to some local advocates.

On Monday, city council voted unanimously to add paved shoulders to North Nechako Road, in order to accomodate residents who would like to bike and walk to get around.

Erica Kang is the urban cycling coordinator for the Prince George Cycling Club.

"It's amazing," she says. "We are so happy to hear this decision was made."

Over 200 people attended a rally Kang helped organize to bring bike lanes to North Nechako. She believes this is indication support for cycling in Prince George is growing.

One of the major challenges she sees is the need for more bike lanes.

"Even though there are some dedicated bike lanes, they're often obstructed with potholes, gravel, parked cars, you name it," She says. "The other problem is bike lanes are often inconsistent, and they end abrubtly, and sometimes even it's a dangerous intersection."

She says there's also concerns over faded bike lanes, making it difficult to tell where the lanes are.

Still, Kang sees a lot of potential for bike riders in the city.

"Just the physical size of Prince George makes it ideal, because everything's relatively close together," Kang says. "I think gradually over time we can push for a safer environment for bikers."

Listen to the full interview:

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Video game bylaw driving owner out of business

"I haven't even taken in a paycheque in the past three months"

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The owner of a popular video game store in downtown Prince George says he's losing money because of a city bylaw intended to prevent the sale of stolen goods. 
Since opening in September 2013, Game Quest owner Kelsy Polnik says the unique store has been a huge hit.

"We kind of planned for nobody to show up, but it's been quite the opposite," he says.

But four months ago, Polnik's business hit a snag. 

A bylaw officer told him he was violating the city's "secondhand dealers and pawnbrokers bylaw," requiring the store to hold every item for 30 days before selling. 

As a result, Polnik says he's losing money, and running out of storage space.
"Lots of frustrated customers. Beforehand, we were able to get items out, when they wanted them. And now I have to ask them to come back in a month."

Polnick estimates ten to twenty-five thousand dollars work of inventory is in limbo at any given time. 

He's asking city council to work with second-hand businesses to amend the bylaw.

Listen to the full interview below:

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Who will be the next mayor of Prince George?

With Shari Green declaring that she will not be running for mayor of Prince George this November, the race to replace her is open. There's also the question of whether Green is headed into federal politics. For his take and predictions, we spoke with opinion columnist Ben Meisner. Listen below:

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Salsa recipes: two for the price of one click!

Pineapple and Kumquat salsa

To prepare them for this salsa take off a tiny slice from the top and the bottom of the fruit. 

Make a slit along the length of the 

fruit and open it out like a little book. The pulp can now be peeled out and discarded. 

Scrape the white pith off the inside of the skin very gently. Discard the pith. The skin 

can now be finely sliced into long very thin julienne.

Half a pineapple peeled and core discarded. Dice the pineapple into ½ cm dice

1 jalapeno seeded and finely diced

3 kumquats prepared as earlier described

½ t salt

Zest and juice of ½ lime

Mix everything together and taste it. If it is too tart for you then add ½ t sugar

This salsa is delicious with grilled pork or fish.

Pico de Gallo

2 or 3 firm and ripe tomatoes diced into ½ cm dice

¼ cup finely diced red onion

1 jalapeno seeded and finely diced

½ cup chopped cilantro

Juice of one lime

½ t salt

½ t sugar

1 t chipotle paste

Mix everything together and let it sit for an hour to marry the flavours.

Stir well before serving. Store in the fridge for a couple of days.

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Fort St John woman says she won't pay for medical services plan until healthcare in region improves


A Fort St John woman frustrated with a lack of health care in her region has decided stop paying her medical services plan (MSP) premiums.

"If the services are inadequate or not there, why are we paying?" says Linda Thomas, a former nurse. "I wouldn't invest my money in a company that wasn't providing me with the services they promised."

Thomas says the decision was prompted by the health care crisis facing the Peace region.

"Our clinic is being shut down. Our hospital doesn't have enough doctors. You can't get into your doctor, my doctor is leaving at the end of the month, I have no idea where my records are going to go. And the government holds us hostage," she told CBC.

"If I am five days late on paying my premium, they start automatically calling you... and yet they do not provide the services."

Listen to the full interview below:

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Northern Health has plans to open an unattached clinic for patients without doctors in Fort St John.

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Shari Green not running for re-election as mayor of the city of Prince George

Won't announce future plans, rumours of Conservative nomination

Mayor Shari Green.jpg

Prince George mayor Shari Green has announced she won't be running for re-election in November. In a statement sent to media, she said she wanted to give others time to consider running for the position, and would be announcing plans at a future time.

Green served one term as councillor, and is currently serving her first term as mayor.

Listen to an interview with Mayor Shari Green about the announcement, her legacy, and her future:

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Future plans not yet announced

There has been speculation Green will seek the Conservative nomination for the federal riding of Cariboo-Prince George. MP Dick Harris has held the riding and its predecessor since 1993. 

"I made no announcment that I'm not so I guess so," he replied.

Green says she won't comment on whether she'd be willing to run against Harris.

"Mr. Harris will certainly make his intentions known when he's ready to do so," says Green. "I think he's served our community for over 20 years and he certainly deserves much thanks and gratitude for the incredible time he has put in to the nation and the region. When he chooses to say something different, we'll look forward to what that might be."

"Tough decisions needed to be made"

When asked about her legacy, Green cited crime reduction, maintaining costs at city hall, and funding infrastructure.

"To be honest I really think I have accomplished a lot in a short period of time, which is not easy to do," she says. "Some tough decisions needed to be made, and I let the community know when I stood for mayor that I was prepared to make difficult and tough decisions and I think that this council has done a lot of work in a short period of time."

A controversial portion of Green's term as mayor was the decision to spend nearly $30,000 on a core services review. Critics charged it was an unnecessary exercise and questioned whether it wound up saving the city any money. Green maintains it was the right decision:

"At the time that was the decision that we needed to make," Green says.

Not enough women running for city hall

Shari Green is currently the only woman elected to municipal government in Prince George, something she hopes will change during the next election.

"First and foremost I think the voter has to choose the best person for the job.... I want the best person in each and every seat," she says. "But what really is telling is that there is not enough women who are running, clearly, and for whatever reason the voter is looking in another direction.

"When I first arrived at council six years ago there had been three women, when i was elected there was two, and when I became mayor there was one.

"I think that depending who the women are who put their names forward... whoever they are they've got to work hard."

No endorsements planned

Green says she's willing to give advice to possible successors but isn't planning any endorsements.

"I don't think you'll see me putting my name behind any candidate," she says. "I'd like to sit back and just kinda watch and see what the community wants to do moving forward."

  • The text of Green's announcement can be found below:

Mayor Green Will Not Seek Third Term on Prince George City Council

"I am announcing today I will not be seeking a third term in municipal office. I am sharing this decision today in order to give mayoral contenders ample time to make their intentions known and for them to begin sharing their platforms with the citizens of Prince George.

I have served two terms at City Council and it has been my honour to serve as Mayor for the city I love. It has been a privilege to lead the city while keeping taxes low, reducing crime and improving conditions for business. 

My family and I would like to thank everyone for their support, faith and encouragement over the last six years. 

I am considering other ways in which I will continue to serve this community and the region. In the coming days, when the time is appropriate, I look forward to sharing that publicly.

In the meantime I will continue to remain focused on the important work that Prince George residents elected me to do."

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How long should we wait before posting about tragedies online?

When two Prince George teens drowned in Kwitzil Lake after a prom party this weekend, family members found out over Facebook.
Trish Howard is the aunt of Craig Wood--one of the teens who drowned.

"Family was not first notified that this had taken place until about 9 a.m. and only by piecing together Facebook posts and through contact with friends," said Trish Howard, the aunt of one of the victims.

Prince George bush party drownings - Kwitzil Lake, police search

The bodies of Kendall Moore and Craig Wood were discovered inside their vehicle after it was pulled from the water following a lakeside party near Prince George, B.C. (CBC)

"No family should have to find out they lost a loved one by reading a posting on Facebook. That is another part of the tragedy."

However, some of the teenagers who were putting the information on social media were not aware the families had not been notified.

Caitlin Lloyd found out about the deaths from her home on Sunday. She says it seemed natural to go online to express her condolences.

"I don't think anyone of us knew the parents were unaware until later on," she says. "But I think just a short message about feeling sorry for the loss and I thought the best I could do was just a note, a short message, and I think that's what everyone else was thinking as well."

Krista Levar is the RCMP Victim Services Coordinator. She says she understands the desire for young people to reach out online, but asks they think about the bigger picture before doing so.

"It would have been a good idea to wait," she told CBC.

She also points out that police need to make sure information is correct before notifying families.

"If you're going to tell someone that someone they love has died, that somebody's child is dead, you want to be 100% sure you're not telling the wrong people."

Listen to the full interview with Levar below:

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Can converting plastic into oil help bring low-cost transit to Highway 16?

Whitehorse was the first city in North America to start converting plastic into oil. Some citizens in Houston, B.C. want to follow (Dave Croft/CBC).

It's the size of a pool table, and it can convert milk jugs and yogurt containers into fuel.

A machine that converts waste plastic into crude oil is operating in Whitehorse. 

Now a conservation group wants to bring the technology to Hazelton. 

Greg Horn is the coordinator of Skeena Energy Solutions, and he thinks it would be a useful addition to the community's conservation efforts- as well as help bring low-cost transit to the so-called "Highway of Tears."

"We have a rising waste problem in the north," Horn says. "The amazing thing about this machine is that it's a way that plastic can be dealt with locally."

Listen to the full interview with Greg Horn:

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Horn says converting the plastic into usable fuel cuts down on greenhouse gas emissions associated with sending plastics to be recycled in the Lower Mainland and overseas.

He also believes the machine could help fund a transit system for northwestern B.C.

"There's been numerous public inquiries saying that we need a shuttle bus to address the issue of missing and murdered women on Highway 16," Horn told CBC. "We see this as a way that we could subsidize the actual fuel transport of a shuttle bus."
Skeena Energy Solutions will hold an open house with the inventor of the "plastics to oil" machine Tuesday night at 7at the Learning Shop in Hazelton.

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Grief counselors at Prince George high schools following weekend drownings

Kendall Moore, one of the two teens who died on the weekend after a bush party in B.C., loved horses and dressing up in cowboy boots, according to a close friend. Moore and her boyfriend, Craig Wood, are presumed to have drowned after their vehicle entered Kwitzil Lake on the weekend.

Kendall Moore, one of the two teens who died on the weekend after a bush party in B.C., loved horses and dressing up in cowboy boots, according to a close friend. Moore and her boyfriend, Craig Wood, are presumed to have drowned after their vehicle entered Kwitzil Lake on the weekend. (Facebook)

A teenage couple found dead in a lake after a bush party near Prince George, B.C., over the weekend was asleep when bystanders made a futile effort to stop the SUV the two were in from rolling into the water, says a relative of the 19-year-old boy who died.

Craig Wood

Craig Wood, 19, was attending an after-grad bush party Saturday night at Kwitzil Lake with his girlfriend before their vehicle entered the lake shortly after 4 a.m. PT Sunday. (Facebook)

Trish Howard says her nephew, Craig Wood, had been attending his 17-year-old girlfriend Kendall Moore's after-grad party at Kwitzil Lake, located on the side of Highway 16, about 40 kilometres west of the city.

"They were both inside the vehicle, apparently sleeping, when the vehicle began a slow roll towards the lake," says  Howard in a statement emailed to media.

"This was seen by people in the vicinity, and several people made heroic efforts to try to stop the progress down to the lake. Some of those people were injured in their attempts to save them. We thank them deeply and cannot begin to express our gratitude for their kind efforts."

Howard says police told the family the vehicle came to rest in about six metres of extremely cold water and members of the RCMP dive team were wearing thermal gear in addition to their regular dive gear because the water was so frigid.

Police say the lake, which is also known as Gravel Pit Lake, was the site of a huge party attended by hundreds of teens Saturday night.

The SUV with the two teens in it went into the lake shortly after 4 a.m. PT Sunday. The two bodies were recovered Sunday afternoon from the vehicle.

Family and friends gathered at the lakeside on Monday to mourn the teens. 

Moore's close friend, Ally Striemer, said friends of both teenagers were visiting the lake all day.

"We're just getting together and supporting each other. It's not good for us to be alone right now," she said. 

Family not notified

Howard says the family is upset it had to learn on Facebook something was wrong.

"Family was not first notified that this had taken place until about 9 a.m. and only by piecing together Facebook posts and through contact with friends," she said.

Prince George bush party drownings - Kwitzil Lake, police search

The bodies of Kendall Moore and Craig Wood were discovered inside their vehicle after it was pulled from the water following a lakeside party near Prince George, B.C. (CBC)

"No family should have to find out they lost a loved one by reading a posting on Facebook. That is another part of the tragedy."

Howard said Wood was a "kind, loving, funny, charismatic person" with plans to become a tradesman.

Striemer said Moore was an amazing person, fun to be around, who loved horses and dressing up in cowboy boots.

"I love her very much. I miss her very much and I know she's going to keep looking down on me. She's going to be my angel," Striemer said. 

Teens who were at the party said people had been drinking, but wouldn't say if that included Moore and Wood, or whether it had a role in the accident.

RCMP said in a statement the investigation is in its early stages and investigators had "made no determination" how the vehicle got in the water. 

Google Maps: Kwitzil Lake

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Ezra Levant on fracking

groundswell levant.jpg    
Fracking is a controversial practice across Canada and North America. However, in a new book writer and pundit Ezra Levant argues fears about fracking are misguided. Listen below:

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Curbside recycling coming to northern B.C. - but not the Regional District of Fraser Fort George


A new recycling program begins in B.C. next week.

Smithers, Terrace, the Nakazdli Reserve, and other communities will receive curbside and drop-off recycling services through MultiMaterial BC

But the Regional District of Fraser Fort George has decided to extend its contract with Cascades, a company that provide recycling bins throughout the community, until 2015.

The regional district turned down an offer to receive money and as act as a collector for MMBC. 

As a result, Prince George will get curbside pick-up, but none of the other communities in the district will receive recycling services. 

Allen Langdon is Manager for Multi Materials BC.

"It's unfortunate they declined. I said look, we'd be willing to work with you to ensure we don't end up in that same position next year."

Regional District Board Chair Art Kaehn says that's why they decided to keep the collection bins.

"While we transition into this new producer responsibility for printed paper and packaging, the board felt it was important to maintain the service and negotiate with the province and MMBC to come up with a new arrangement for the rural parts of the regional district."

Kaehn says extending the collection bin contract will cost the regional district about $450 thousand dollars. 

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Reading to cats in Fort St John

reading to cats.PNG
Reading to cats takes place at the Fort St John SPCA Fridays from 2-4 pm.

Cats and avid and aspiring readers can help each other out at a new program in Fort St John. 

"Reading to Cats" is a partnership between the Fort St John public library and the city's SPCA. For a couple of hours every Friday, people of all ages can drop by with a book to read to cats being held at the shelter.

Listen to the full interview with Kirsten Barkved, program coordinator at the library, to find out what drove her to set up the program:

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Prince Rupert residents upset about smell, noise coming from pellet plant

Residents of a Prince Rupert neighbourhood say a pellet plant is disturbing them with noise, smell, and dust.

From noise, to dust, to bad smells, people in Prince Rupert are fed up with on-going issues at a pellet export terminal. 

Kevin Frizzel lives three blocks from the terminal.

"There's a constant hum," he says. "Every time I'm in my yard I hear this constant hum, and the smell of wood, you can smell that throughout the town. And you can see the wood dust on top of the silos."

Residents also complain of dust build-ups in the neighbourhood near the plant.

Barry Cunningham is a city councillor in Prince Rupert who is attempting to get answers. He made a motion to bring Pinnacle in before council to explain how it will resolve these issues. 

"My main concern is that Pinnacle's not communicating with the people about what they're doing," he told CBC. "I would really like Pinacle to come to city council and explain to the people what they're doing, what the problems are, and if and when they can fix them."

Pinnacle declined an interview with CBC, instead sending a written statement saying it has installed structures to damper noise, and that it has not detected significant dust deposits. The statement says also says that in order to combat smell, Pinnacle attempts to aerate its products when the wind is blowing away from the community.

Listen to the full interview with Barry Cunningham:

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Parents of children with special needs are banding together to support one another in Prince Rupert

(Photo credit: Angelina Theilmann/CBC Intern)

Parents for Positive Change is a new organization in Prince Rupert.
It's led by parents of children with ADHD, autism and other special needs.
Symbia Barnaby is the organization's co-founder.

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Researchers say farmed salmon escapes aren't being tracked by DFO


Fisheries and Oceans Canada has not been tracking famred salmon escapes, says a new report from the University of Victoria's environmental studies department. Daybreak's George Baker has more. 

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Pipeline exploration work goes unattended on northern BC rivers

Bulkley_River_flowing_into_Skeena_River_near_Hazelton,_British_Columbia (1).jpg
(The Skeena River meeting the Bulkley River near New Hazleton -- credit/wikipedia)

Questions are being raised about HOW much water is allowed to be taken from northern rivers during exploration work, now that it is no longer regulated by Government
CBC's Marissa Harvey has more. 

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Jicama is Adrienne Johnston's favourite salsa

Choose a Jicama which is the size of a large orange. 
Peel it, cut it in half. Lay it on the board cut side down (so that it is stable on the board) and slice it into 3mm thick slices.
Working with a few slices at a time take a stack of slices and cut them into 3mm thick
pieces. You will now have a whole bunch of little sticks. In professional cook talk they are julienne. Repeat this step till you have reduced the half Jicama into julienne.
Peel a navel orange and remove all the white pith. Slice it into 3mm thick rounds along 
the latitude.
Working with a few slices at a time cut them into little wedges. Remove the sees if there are any.
Wash and remove the seeds from a jalapeno chile. Chop half of it into tiny dice.
Reserve the other half for another use.
Wash and chop enough cilantro to yield a couple of tablespoons.
Mix together the Jicama, orange, jalapeño and cilantro. 
Add salt to your own taste. 
Squeeze on the juice of half a lime and mix the lot together.
If you are wondering what to do with the rest of the Jicama chop it up and add some if it to a salad. 
Slice it very thin and add it to a sandwich for some crunch.
Slice it into thicker sticks and add it to a vegetable platter. 
Add it to a stir-fry.

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Whooping cough outbreak on Haida Gwaii

Outbreak could spread to northwest B.C., beyond

Whooping cough is easily transmitted from person to person, mainly through droplets from the nose, mouth and throat of an infected person. (CBC)

Additional staff have been sent to Haida Gwaii to help Northern Health battle a whooping cough outbreak in northwestern BC. 

There are 104 reported cases - 38 of which are confirmed. 
Haida Gwaii has been hit the hardest, with 14 confirmed cases in Masset, and 14 in Queen Charlotte City. 
Northern Health Acting Chief Medical Officer Doctor Ronald Chapman says this year's outbreak is a substantial increase over other recent years, including an outbreak that occurred in 2008. 
He says the health authority is using extra staff to ensure people get immunized. 

"We've also started immunizing kids instead of two months, we start immunizing kids as soon as six weeks after their born so that we can stimulate their immunity."

Chapman says all ages have been affected by the outbreak, but the highest number of cases seem to be among pre-teen-aged children.

He adds that infants under the age of one, and pregnant women in their third trimester are at the highest risk for developing complications, and that immunization is the best way to prevent the spread. 

Chapman says there are logistical and staffing challenges to addressing the outbreak on the remote island of Haida Gwaii. 

"It doesn't matter what kind of outbreak there is, you've generally got your staff that are trying to cope with the increased demand."

He also says warnings have been sent to other parts of the province.

"There certainly is a risk that it can spread to other areas... especially the northwest. Everybody just needs to be alert."

Symptoms of whooping cough include runny noses, fever, and persistent coughs.

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Smithers mayor frustrated by lack of progress on so-called Highway of Tears

Warning sign on the Highway 16. (Wikimedia)

Despite calls for a shuttle bus service along Highway 16 in northwest B.C., vulnerable residents have few options when travelling along the so-called Highway of Tears.   

In 2012, Missing Women's Inquiry commissioner Wally Oppal recommended the government "immediately" begin work on a public transportation plan.

But municipal and First Nations leaders say there has been few meetings with provincial officials since then.  

Taylor Bachrach is the mayor of Smithers, and he's been leading the push for a shuttle.

"Frankly, the progress on that specific recommendation has been very slow and it's been quite frustrating," Bachrach told CBC. "It's an issue that was highlighted so strongly in Mr. Oppal's report, it's been disappointing that it's taken this long to really bring the province to the table."

Listen to the full interview with Taylor Bachrach
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Meanwhile, B.C.'s Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton defended the government's work to improve safety in the provincial legislature.

"That's why there's increased cell phone service, that's why there's improved policing. That's why there's a hitch-hiking study underway. That's why we've given money to the Carrier Sekani to do public safety and workshops along highway 16."

She also points out there is a Greyhound bus and train service that runs along the corridor.

Bachrach, however, believes work still needs to be done.

"Essentially what she's been saying is the highway is currently safe enough and that the status quo is adequate. And I don't think that is consistent with what Mr. Oppal's report found."

"In fact, it's never been worse when it comes to public transportation."

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Interviews, The Story Exchange:

The Story Exchange: Anna and the Bear


What would you do if a bear attacked your child? A camping trip in B.C.'s rugged Rocky Mountains took a terrifying turn when a bear came across easy prey - Harrop's 3-year old boy. Listen to Anna share what happened next.

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If you have a true tale you'd like to share, email

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Tired of doctor shortages, Fort Nelson looks to build its own healthcare centre

An artists' rendering of the Northern Rockies Community Health Centre (

Tired of dealing with doctor and healthcare shortages, a remote community in northeast British Columbia has decided to take matters into its own hands.

Fort Nelson only has three doctors, and hasn't had full maternity services in years.

So now the municipality is looking at buildings its own 7.4 million dollar health centre that would be unique in B.C. 

The health centre would provide family doctors, mental health, and public health all under one roof.  

Fort Nelson Economic Development Officer Jaylene Arnold says they hope this model will be attractive to new physicians. 

"It's really creating that supported environment, the ultimate work environment," she says. 

Arnold says the province won't be involved in funding the facility. Instead, the municipality in seeking approval for a loan of 7.4 million dollars to build it. 

Residents have until June fourth to submit their opposition. If at least 10 percent are opposed, the municipality will hold a referendum in the fall. 

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What are we willing to sacrifice to meet our energy needs? A debate about Site C

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Recommendations on the future of Site C have been released. A Joint Review Panel has assessed the environmental impact of the controversial hydroelectric project and released to the federal and provincial governments. 

"The benefits are clear. Despite high initial costs, and some uncertainty about when the power would be needed, the project would provide a large and long-term increment of firm energy and capacity at a price that would benefit future generations," said the panel's summary.

However, the report also points to costs.

"Replacing a portion of the Peace River with an 83-kilometre reservoir would cause significant adverse effects on fish and fish habitat, and a number of birds and bats, smaller vertebrate and invertebrate species, rare plants, and sensitive ecosystems. The Project would significantly affect the current use of land and resources for traditional purposes by Aboriginal peoples, and the effect of that on Aboriginal rights and treaty rights generally will have to be weighed by governments."

We spoke to people on both side of the issue. Ken Boon is a farmer who would lose his land if Site C goes ahead. Dan Miller is a former cabinet minister who says he understands the concerns, but believes the positives outweighs the negative. Listen to them make their case below, and let us know where you stand:

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"It's not a great day" Houston mayor speaks as main employer shuts down


Today marks the beginning of the end for 225 workers at sawmill in northern B.C. 

The last logs will start going through the Houston Forest Products Sawmill today. West Fraser is permanently shutting down the mill as a result of the mountain pine beetle infestation. 
The full shut down could take several weeks, as the remaining logs are processed, wrapped and shipped. Workers have had six months to prepare, but Houston Mayor Bill Holmberg says that hasn't made it any easier. 

"I don't think it's a very happy day, that's for sure. There's going to be some people that are going to lose their jobs, some people are moving,  some people have taken early retirement."

Holmberg says the ripple effects of the closure are already being felt in the community of 3000.

"The district of Houston, we're going to have five thousand dollars less tax revenue, so we've had to make some changes, you know laid some people off."

"Any time you take two hundred and some jobs out of a community of about 2400 people, it's gonna have a huge impact."

Holmberg expects it will be a difficult transition, as Houston looks diversify its economy through tourism, and possibly the liquefied natural gas sector. 

He also worries about people who will now have to find jobs in far more expensive locations such as B.C.'s booming northeast and northwest locations.

"Where else can you buy a nice house for 150 grand?"

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The true story of the Thornhill strawberries (and how they were stolen by Americans)

These strawberries are not as big as the Thornhill strawberries. (CBC)

Imagine strawberries so big you need egg cartons to get them around. The Thornhill Strawberry has been growing near Terrace for the past century, and it all started with the Michaudbrothers. Monica Michaud Weldon tells a story from her family history.

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What's next in the fight over Site C?

An artist's rendering shows how the Peace River's Site C dam would appear after completion. (BC Hydro)

Recommendations on the future of Site C have been released. A Joint Review Panel has assessed the environmental impact of the controversial hydroelectric project and released to the federal and provincial governments. It is non-binding, but the report could make a big difference in the future of the project. 

We spoke to Jim Quail, a lawyer who practices in the field of energy regulation about both scenarios. Listen to the full interview below:
(note: this interview was conducted before the report was released to the public)

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If it's a "yes"

"I would be really amazed if we don't get a greenlight for this project from the environmental assessment process today," say Quail. "The fact that there are already two dams in the same river... I would expect they would see it as acceptable."

But that doesn't mean a greenlight. Even if the provincial government decides to go ahead, there could still be a challenge from First Nations in the area.

"Because of the special constitutional rights that First Nations have, if they do not feel that they've been properly consulted and their concerns aren't accomodated, they have legal remedies available to them. Not necessarily a veto, but they have a pretty significant voice."

If it's a "no"

"This isn't the final decision," explains Quail. "The final decision will be made by cabinet."

So even if there's a no recommendation, the province could still decide to go forward with this project.

"They could still go ahead... but if this report recommends against it, politically that would be a significant setback."

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Northwest Transmission Line adding up towards the finish line

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(Photo credit: Greg Horne/submitted)

At a cost of $746 million, the Northwest Transmission Line is no small punch to the provincial wallet. It's also taken it's toll on the region's forests. CBC reporter Marissa Harvey updates us on  one of B.C.'s less talked about project. 

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Researchers say undersea paradise threatened by LNG proposal

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(Photo credit: George Baker/CBC)

Researchers say Flora Bank -- an undersea treasure trove of sea life -- could be threatened by an adjascent LNG project. Daybreak's George Baker brings us this story.

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Pacific Northwest LNG president and CEO Greg Kist responds. He says that the project won't hamr salmon stocks or Flora Bank. 

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Coastal Cooking an Indian breakfast

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For each egg paratha you will need:
1 roti
1 egg
A pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper
1 green onion, washed trimmed and sliced fine
½ of a jalapeno chile chopped fine. If you are concerned about the heat factor remove the 
seeds and membranes
Fresh cilantro enough to measure about 1/3 cup when chopped
Vegetable oil
Heat a heavy skillet over low moderate heat (about 3) on my stove. While the pan is 
heating chop the onion, chile and herbs.
Beat the egg well and add the pinch of salt and fresh ground pepper
Put about ½ T of oil in the pan and add the onions, chilies and herbs and fry them till they 
are tender.
Put the roti on top of the herb onion mixture and let it heat through, turning it as 
When the roti is hot pour on the beaten egg, lifting the sides of the roti so that the egg 
runs underneath the roti. As the egg cooks tilt the pan so that any un-cooked egg also 
runs underneath and cooks. Flip the roti and cook until the egg is all cooked through. 
This is best eaten hot and freshly out of the pan. A little hot mango pickle or mango 
chutney is the perfect condiment for this.
If you are confident enough to make your own roti do so. There is recipe in No More 
Secrets. Rolling them is an art born of experience. The more even the circle the better 
they cook.
Next week a delicious Jicama Salsa.

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Two major fires in two weeks "random" says Prince George fire chief

Residents of an apartment and townhouse complex are still homeless following a fire on April 30. (Wil Fundal/CBC)

Prince George has seen two major fires in the past two weeks. The first was at an apartment and townhome complex on April 30, while the second broke out on George Street on the night of May 4.

But Prince George fire chief John Iverson the number of fires in the city is not unusual.

"I would consider us about equivilent to a city of our size,"he told CBC."These fires are unrelated and they're random events... I haven't seen anything that would cause me concern."

Listen to the full interview to hear more about the investigations into the fires, building codes, and whether wood is a safe construction material.

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Beaver dams flooding farmland in northern B.C.

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Wikimedia Commons

Ed Green's farm near Tom's Lake is facing a beaver problem. When he first bought the land seven years ago, he knew there were beavers in the area, but a local trapper kept the population under control. But lately, their numbers have been growing, and dams are flooding his fields and the fields of his neighbours- and Green doesn't know what to do. Listen to his interview:

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Historic downtown George Street hit by fire in Prince George

Prince George City Councillor Brian Skakun tweeted this image of the downtown fire. (Brain Skakun/Twitter)

Firefighters in Prince George spent the night battling a fire in a downtown building on the 300 block of George Street.

The fire broke out around 11:30 p.m. PT. City Councillor Brian Skakun said it was visible from a few kilometres away.

"You could look and see the flames and the smoke from three to four kilometres away. So it was a major fire."

Firefighters were still putting out the fire at 6 a.m. and smoke could be seen coming from the site.

prince george fire

The fire broke out on George Street in Prince George, around 11:30 p.m. PT Sunday. (CBC)

It appears that at least three businesses were damaged by the fire, said Skakun.

"You're talking about some businesses. And, you know, are these businesses going to be able to rebuild and relocate? So I mean there's nothing but heartache, you know, when there is a disaster like this," he said.

One of the businesses affected was the Copper Pig BBQ House. In a message on Facebook the owner said, "The Copper Pig is alright, but we are going to be closed for today to check out the damges." In a tweet, they indicated plans to reopen later this week.

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College of New Caledonia downsizing trades training


As the provincial government places more focus on jobs training, the College of New Caledonia has cut a number of trades programs.

We hear from Randall Heidt, executive director of communications at CNC in Prince George. We also speak to Jim Rose, who founded the Career Technical Centre trades training program at the college.

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Prince George neighbourhood trying to convince city to build bike lanes

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Residents of the North Nechako neighbourhood of Prince George say streets are unsafe for bikes and pedestrians. (courtesy Phil Mullins)

A group of Prince George residents wants bike lanes in their neighbourhood. And they're going on a rough ride this weekend to make their point. Phil Mullins is among those who wants to ride his bike to work But he gets nervous every time he tries "Cars have to veer into oncoming traffic or into the oncoming lane in order to avoid pedestrians or cyclist." He says North Nechako Road is falling apart, an obstacle course of potholes and cracked pavement, and if there is traffic bike riders are stuck on a gravel shoulder. The city is spending almost ten million dollars on road repairs this year, but new bike lanes are not on the agenda. Mullins hopes a petition and a group ride this Sunday will convince the city wider roads are a good investment "It'll make it last longer for cars, it'll make it last longer for pedestrians and cyclists, and it'll make it safer for everyone."

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Kentucky Derby Essentials: What to drink and how to dress with the Copper Pig

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Are you ready for the 140th Edition of the Kentucky Derby? Tyler Burbee of the Copper Pig BBQ House is, and he shares his tips for everything from how to pick a horse to how to prepare the perfect mint julep.

The Copper Pig BBQ House is hosting a Kentucky Derby party Saturday at 1. There will be horseshoes, a costume contest, and races on the TV. Burbee's pick to win, based solely on the name: Hoppertunity.

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Are you ready for caterpillargeddon 2014?

Caterpillars covered the city of Prince George throughout the summer of 2013 (photos: Andrew Kurjata)

2013 was a particularly bad year for caterpillars in Prince George. They covered fences, swung from trees, and wound up in a few mouths. Some of the creepy-crawlies have already been spotted around town, so we asked Staffen Lindgren, a professor of entomology at UNBC, what to expect. Have a listen:


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Prince George man wrongly fined thousands of dollars by Canada Revenue Agency will not be getting money for damages


A decades-long court battle against the Canada Revenue Agency has come to a devastating end for a Prince George man. 

The B.C. Supreme Court ruled the tax agency does not have to pay one million dollars worth of damages to Irvin Leroux. 

Leroux spent nearly two decades fighting the Canada Revenue Agency. In the 1990s, a CRA audit found Leroux owed thousands of dollars, and filed a writ of seizure and sale against his assets. Soon after that, the business development bank foreclosed Leroux's RV Park. 
Years later, a tax court ruled CRA's assessment was incorrect, and Leroux was actually owed a credit.

However, The Supreme court Judge ruled the loss of the property could not be pinned solely on CRA's actions. 

That left Leroux out roughly a million dollars. 

While the ruling is a loss for Leroux, his lawyer Laurence Armstrong says it's a major victory for tax payers because for the first time, the court has found CRA is liable to taxpayers for damages for negligence. 

"I mean I think Mr. Leroux feels today that he lost this case, but I guarantee the CRA are the ones that feel they've really lost," says Armstrong.

Leroux is turning seventy on May 2. His family is sending him to Las Vegas as a birthday present, hoping his luck will be better this time.

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Listen to a drone fly over Prince George's Cottonwood Island Park

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John Rankin does a final check to make sure his drone is ready for takeoff.

A drone was flying over Prince George's Cottonwood Island Park yesterday. It was demonstration of how the unmanned aircrafts can be used for mapping. John Rankin is the president of Prince George's JR Canadian mapping. They developed their own drones in-house using a combination of high-impact styrofoam, duct tape, and thousands of dollars worth of technical equipment. 

Listen to the drone in action below:


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