North Van mayors ink RCMP contract
North Vancouver municipal leaders reluctantly signed a 20year RCMP contract despite concerns over spiralling costs.
Both North Vancouver mayors said they were shocked to learn local taxpayers will be on the hook for an RCMP pay raise that wasn't discussed with municipalities.
The pay increase included 1.7 per cent for 2012, 1.5 per cent in 2013 and two per cent in 2014.
"We realized that there was just absolutely no time for us to make a good, informed decision in regards to any other options or models, so we had to sign," said City of North Vancouver Mayor Darrell Mussatto. "They said you have to sign by that date or else. . . . Else was that (the province) would take over running the RCMP, and they would then bill us for an administration fee."
Con man jailed for credit swindle
A smooth-talking huckster from the North Shore was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison after buying a fleet of luxury vehicles and a boat with close to $500,000 in stolen credit card information.
Kamyar Jahanrakhshan received the sentence for 40 charges of fraud, possession of property obtained by crime, and possession of stolen credit cards in B.C. Supreme Court. He was also ordered to pay restitution of approximately $220,000.
Jahanrakhshan will have to serve his three-and-a-half year sentence on top of a six-month sentence for obstruction of justice. He was convicted in that case after contacting a number of the banks he was accused of defrauding and posing as an RCMP investigator. He persuaded some of the banks to fax him copies of their affidavits that would later be used in his fraud trial.
Municipal brass see pay balloon
Managers who head up the North Shore's civil service are taking home more than $200,000 a year.
The biggest earner among local government employees last year was the District of North Vancouver's chief administrative officer David Stuart, who earned $289,000, according to figures released by the municipalities. That's a raise of $100,000 over what Stuart was earning six years ago, when he was chief administrative officer for West Vancouver.
Ken Tollstam, city manager for the City of North Vancouver, made $269,000 as CAO in 2011, up almost 50 per cent from the $180,000 he was earning in 2006.
Grant McRadu, CAO for the District of West Vancouver, earned $224,000 last year - a salary 20 per cent higher than that position paid six years ago.
B.C. Supreme Court overturns jaywalking conviction
A North Vancouver man who was accused of obstructing a police officer in connection with a jaywalking incident had his conviction overturned in B.C. Supreme Court.
Don Sipes, 49, said he felt compelled to fight the conviction - even though it didn't leave him with a criminal record - because he believed he'd done nothing wrong.
"You don't have civil rights unless you have a court case that says you do," he said.
Crime drops on North Shore for 10th year
West Vancouver is one of the safest places to live in the province according to 2011 crime statistics released by Statistics Canada.
The figures show West Vancouver tied with Comox and second only to North Saanich in terms of safety among cities with a population greater than 10,000.
The District of North Vancouver was ranked as the next safest community on the list.
Across the country, crime is the lowest it's been in 20 years.
$90K oil tank bill sparks warning
After selling her North Vancouver home, Susanne Carrillo was presented with a $90,000 bill for remediating soil contaminated by a leaky oil tank she didn't know she had.
The tank had been leaking oil since a previous owner converted to natural gas in 1981.
According to West Vancouver Fire and Rescue, there are still about 4,000 tanks buried in that community.
Both the North Vancouver municipalities are unsure how many tanks are buried inside their borders, but the city estimates it could have as many as 1,500 and the district believes it could have thousands.
Killed by demographics, schools could be sold
The North Vancouver school district put four schools on the shopping block following a rash of closures due to declining enrolment.
Monteray and Plymouth elementaries, as well as Ridgeway Annex and Keith Lynn secondary are facing potential sale or lease - subject to board and community approval.
The possibility of selling land owned by the district prompted an outcry from residents.
Of the seven other properties deemed surplus, Maplewood, Westover, and Fromme elementary have been leased long-term.
The board is considering development options for other defunct schools including Blueridge elementary, Cloverley, Lonsdale Creek Annex, and the Lucas Centre.
Muni retirees double-dipping, says watchdog
Some of the North Shore's top retired firefighters are taking taxpayers for a ride by collecting a pension and a paycheque simultaneously, according to a taxpayer watchdog group.
Fire chiefs Dave Burgess and Barrie Penman at the City of North Vancouver and Steven Feenstra, a deputy fire chief at the District of North Vancouver, have retired and then been hired back on contracts to train their replacements.
MLA McIntyre won't run in 2013
West Vancouver Sea-to-Sky MLA Joan McIntyre announced Sept. 3 she would not seek a third term in the 2013 provincial election, joining 11 MLAs who have said they won't be running for re-election.
The mass exodus has included high-profile cabinet ministers Kevin Falcon, Mary McNeil and George Abbott as Premier Christy Clark and the Liberal Party have struggled in the polls.
McIntyre said she had always planned to serve only two terms in public office.
Canada cuts diplomatic ties to Iran
Citing Iran as a threat to global security due to sponsoring terrorists, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird announced Canada was cutting its diplomatic ties with Iran in September.
The announcement came on the heels of Canada's decision to close its visa office in Tehran, Iran, as well as economic sanctions that resulted in members of the Persian community seeing their Toronto Dominion Bank accounts frozen or closed.
Rail tour workers agree to settle
Unionized employees of the Rocky Mountaineer rail tour company were given the chance to share shifts with their replacement workers, following the settlement to a 14-month labour dispute.
"When a party can bring in scabs it changes the whole dynamic of a labour dispute. That's why it's illegal in B.C. to do it," said B.C. Federation of Labour president Jim Sinclair.
City residents may count their chickens
Chickens can come home to roost in the City of North Vancouver after council decided residents can keep eight hens.
The hens may not be slaughtered and roosters are prohibited.
Hen-keeping is only permitted in single unit residential zones that wrap around the city in a horseshoe shape and house approximately 20 per cent of city residents.
DNV Fire Hall #3 officially open
The firefighters stationed at the District of North Vancouver's Fire Hall No. 3 moved into new digs after close to a year crammed into trailers in the hall's parking area.
The dingy, single-storey structure that stood on Montroyal Boulevard for nearly 40 years was stripped almost to its foundations in Nov. 2010 in preparation for a $1.8-million rebuild.
The refurbished structure includes a 2,200square-foot second storey.
Road rager guilty of assault charges
A minivan driver who beat another motorist with an aluminum bat in a case of road rage was found guilty of assault with a weapon and assault causing bodily harm.
During the trial, Ryan McCaffery described how the incident started after he cut off Gerardo Arguello's minivan in the process of merging onto the Ironworker Memorial Second Narrows Crossing.
Arguello became enraged at being cut off and while on the bridge, pulled his vehicle alongside McCaffery's, where the two men and Arguello's passenger yelled at each other.
Following the angry words, Arguello began a "cat and mouse" game with McCaffery, culminating with Arguello cutting across two lanes of traffic, overtaking McCaffery and slamming on his brakes to cause a collision.
After the crash McCaffery described Arguello's passenger, who was found not guilty, coming at him "with rage in his eyes."
McCaffery was hit four or five times with the bat, including once in the head.
Summer comes late
From Aug. 1 to Sept. 25, there were 6.3 millimetres of precipitation measured at Vancouver International Airport, where official records are charted.
In an average August and September, the same weather station reported more than 92mm of rain.
The West Vancouver weather station - which generally records more rain than the airport - clocked only 10.2 mm of rain. That's far lower than the 77.7 mm recorded last year.
DNV orders 'fire trap' remediation
A Vancouver developer was given five months to make substantial renovations to an unsafe building on Lynn Valley Road in the District of North Vancouver.
Calling Dovercourt House "an embarrassment" and "a fire trap," council voted unanimously to order upgrades. The 100-yearold building needs an electrical assessment, fire stairs, and automatic sprinklers, according to council. An independent examination of the building found jammed basement doors and a fire test label that had been painted over.
If the work is not completed within the time allotted, district staff could finish the upgrades at the owner's expense.
Ghalib Rawji, a developer best known for taking over single resident occupancy hotels in the Downtown Eastside, said the loss of federal funding grants caused a delay in upgrading the building.
Dovercourt houses 10 tenants who pay as little as $300 a month in rent.
HOpe Centre construction begins
After years of planning and a massive fundraising effort, Lions Gate Hospital has finally broken ground on its long-awaited psychiatric centre.
The $62-million facility is slated to replace the 83-year-old Activation building.
The 150,000 square-foot complex will house
a 27-bed inpatient psychiatric unit, a UBC medical school facility, and nine ambulance bays.
After a $38-million pledge from the provincial government, the Lions Gate Hospital Foundation pulled in $24 million from approximately 5,000 donors, according to organizers, including $10 million from Greta and Robert Ho, the centre's namesakes.
Plans unveiled for West Van's gateway
West Vancouver's aging police station could be replaced by an eight-storey residential complex if a plan tabled by the site's prospective owners is taken up by the municipality.
Grosvenor property developers submitted a plan that would see the entire 1300-block of Marine Drive levelled and replaced with a pair of tiered mid-rises joined by a covered galleria. The ground floor would be taken up with retail space and the floors above it would contain a total of approximately 88 residential units, according to the municipality.
On Nov. 19, council voted unanimously to bring the plan to the public to gauge community feedback.
West Vancouver council unanimously agreed to give Grosvenor the option to purchase the 1300-block of Marine Drive - pending council approval of the final design - in March.
NVSD apologizes for yearbook slur
Forty-two years after he was labelled a "fag" in his high school yearbook, Argyle graduate Robin Tomlin received a "very sincere" apology from the North Vancouver school district in person.
Tomlin, now retired and suffering from terminal liver disease, drew national media attention and a massive outpouring of public support when the story behind the slur - and the school district's seeming refusal to say sorry for it - was reported in the North Shore News.
Tomlin had asked Argyle to alter the copy of the annual in the school library to remove the old insult, but they refused. When he was rebuffed again in May, 2012, he enlisted the help of a lawyer. After some back and forth, the school district offered to replace the offending page in the library, send an amended page to the North Vancouver archives, and provide Tomlin with 20 copies of it for his own use.
City to lobby port over grain silo expansion
City of North Vancouver council is hoping a strongly worded but diplomatic letter will persuade Port Metro Vancouver to consider other options before allowing Richardson International to build a massive expansion to its grain silos.
The letter is a response to the surprise September revelation that Richardson is hoping to get PMV approval for a 55-metre silo on the east side of its terminal.
Incensed neighbours from the 500-block of East First and Second streets gathered in council chambers Oct. 22 to voice their anger over the loss of views, property values and quality of life if the project goes ahead.
WV ferry terminal revalued at $20
The District of West Vancouver and the B.C. Assessment Authority are heading to court to fight a decision that slashed the assessed value of B.C. Ferries' Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal from more than $47 million to just $20.
The decision essentially strips the municipality of about $250,000 of anticipated property taxes in 2013, meaning a possible two per cent increase in property taxes for homeowners.
The district will also be required to repay approximately $750,000 in property taxes it collected on the parcels going back to 2010.
On Nov. 5, West Vancouver council voted unanimously to pursue the case in B.C. Supreme Court.
Court delay kills dial-a-dope case A North Vancouver judge tossed out charges
against three people accused of running a dial-a-dope ring under the guise of a medicinal marijuana service, ruling the case has taken too long to get to trial.
Judge Joanne Challenger ruled the almost four-year delay between when charges were laid and when the trail was to start violated the accuseds' right to be tried "within a reasonable time."
Father wins dyslexia rights case
A North Vancouver father said he was elated after winning a landmark court case that ruled the North Vancouver school district discriminated against his son, who has dyslexia.
Rick Moore, who began his legal battle 15 years ago, said he hoped the victory will help kids with learning disabilities get the help they need.
The Supreme Court of Canada agreed with Moore that by cutting services for students with dyslexia and failing to provide alternatives, the school district discriminated against Moore's son.
No jail for Whistler sled dog killer
A man who sparked international outrage by shooting dozens of Whistler sled dogs in a mass cull in 2010 received probation, community service and a fine, but no jail time.
Crown prosecutor Nicole Gregoire told North Vancouver provincial court Judge Steven Merrick on Nov. 22 that jail wasn't needed for Robert Fawcett, a former employee of the sled dog tour company Outdoor Adventures, noting he has already become a pariah and feels extreme remorse for his actions.
Fawcett was sentenced after pleading guilty to causing unnecessary pain and suffering to nine of the dogs that were culled in a two-day period after a slump in business following the 2010 Whistler Olympics.
The case set off an international media firestorm when details of the case became public after Fawcett filed a claim with WorkSafe BC for post-traumatic stress disorder.
After more than two years of debate, redesign and controversy, Onni Group announced plans to withdraw their proposal to build two condo towers comprising 344 units, as well as office and retail space at the Safeway site on Lonsdale and 13th.
Citing "public abuse" over accusations Onni had stacked a town hall meeting with speakers who were favourable to the project, company president Rossano De Cotiis announced his intention to withdraw the application.
Currently, the proposal remains with city staff and may yet receive a second public hearing in February.
North Shore's tallest tower OK'd for Seylynn
The tallest building on the North Shore was OK'd for North Vancouver's Seylynn neighbourhood following a contentious council vote Dec. 10.
In a 4-3 vote, council approved a five-building development east of Mountain Highway and north of Fern Street, which includes three highrises measuring 24, 28, and 32 storeys.
The development includes 790 residential units.
The project also includes a four-lane extension to Keith Road across the north side of the property to connect with the Fern Street interchange.
DNV won't cost-share 50-metre pool
The District and City of North Vancouver will not pool their resources for a new 50-metre swimming facility at Harry Jerome Recreation Centre, following district council's decision Dec. 10.
The city considered a $28-million Olympic-sized pool at the rebuilt Harry Jerome centre, but that plan appeared contingent on the city and district sharing costs.
The district is currently planning a 25-m pool in a rebuilt William Griffin Recreation Centre, less than a five-minute drive from Harry Jerome.