British Columbia

Missing person found as new storm approaches B.C.

As B.C.'s South Coast braces for another windstorm later Wednesday, the chair of the Vancouver Park Board said all of the known homeless people in Stanley Park have been accounted for in the wake of last week's big storm.

As B.C.'s South Coast braces for another windstorm later Wednesday, the chair of the Vancouver Park Board says all theknown homeless people in Stanley Park have been accounted for in the wakeof last week's big storm.

Earlier Wednesday, Vancouver Mayor SamSullivan said that two homeless people were missing.

But Vancouver Park Board chair Ian Robertson says when he checked with police, he was told there was only one homeless person missing over the weekend and that person is now staying with family members.

Acouple of dozen homeless peoplehave camped deep in the forest of the 400-hectare park for manyyears.

Robertson, who accompaniedthe mayor on a tour of the devastatedcity landmark, noted that the areas of the park that bore the brunt of the big storm are also the places where transients have set up their camps.

Friday's storm brought down more than 1,000 trees in the park, flattening entire groves. It also triggered mudslides that severely damaged its famous seawall, which will likely remain closed for weeks.

How much debris to clear?

Debate is underway about how much of the tree debris left by the storm should be cleared.

Suzanne Simard, an associate professor at the University of B.C.'s department of forest sciences, said storms are natural, even necessary, to help forests regenerate and much of the fallen wood should be left on the ground.

"Think, too, about a forest that hasn't been disturbed," she said Tuesday.

"Trees will grow and they'll age and they'll die and they'll fall to the ground. And again, they will be used by other organisms for their habitat. They will also decompose and they become part of the carbon cycle and part of the nutrient cycle. They play a really important role in healthy sustainable forests."

But, she said, any trees or logs that pose a danger to park visitors will have to be cleared.

Eric Meagher, maintenance supervisor at Stanley Park, said the piles of branches on the ground could become a fire hazard. He was astounded at the damage when he took an aerial tour of the park.

"Our concern is the debris laying on the ground here over the next little while drying out over the summertime becoming a fire hazard. We really have do something to clean this up," he said.

Sullivan agrees with that and told reporters accompanying him on his tour that the trees should be sold and the money used to pay for the cleanup.

Sullivan also plans to approach the federal and provincial governments for financial help to restore the world-famous park.

Hydro crews still working to restore power

B.C. Hydro has restored power to nearly everyone who lost it last week. However, there are about 2,100 customers still in the dark in Greater Victoria and another 500 homes without electricity in the tiny community of Bamfield on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

Meanwhile, Environment Canada predicted winds of 50 to 80 km/h for the South Coast on Wednesday, with high winds expected in the evening and overnight in the Lower Mainland.

Wind speeds of 70 to 100 km/h were forecast for northern Vancouver Island.

A wind warning was in effect early Wednesday for Greater Vancouver, Fraser Valley, Greater Victoria, Howe Sound, Southern Gulf Islands, the Sunshine Coast and much of Vancouver Island.

A rainfall warning was issued for western Vancouver Island and Howe Sound.

With files from the Canadian Press