Vaughn Palmer: New ICBC legislation will face inevitable legal challenge

VICTORIA — The New Democrats relied heavily on advice from the Insurance Corp. of B.C. in crafting legislation to cap payouts to victims of minor injuries and burgeoning legal costs, Attorney-General David Eby confirmed Monday.

The troubled auto insurance corporation supplied comparisons to what has worked elsewhere, and costed the options in what has been characterized as a “lite” version of no-fault auto insurance.

“We couldn’t have done it without the assistance of ICBC,” Eby told reporters at the release of the enabling legislation Monday. “They were instrumental in this process.”

I’m sure they were. ICBC has lobbied successive governments on no fault, shorthand for a system that limits claim costs by capping payouts and minimizing litigation.

The corporation persuaded the New Democrats to go that route the last time they were in power, only to see the drive turned back by a well-funded campaign from trial lawyers.

The government-owned auto insurer floated three variations on no fault when the B.C. Liberals took over from the New Democrats. But then-Premier Gordon Campbell squashed the notion in a letter to the ICBC board: “The government will not be considering such options at this time.”

Nor did the Liberals embrace such options under subsequent Premier Christy Clark, never mind an emerging financial crisis at ICBC and comparable jurisdictions having already gone the route of limiting payouts for minor injuries and litigation.

On taking office after a B.C. Liberal-authored financial crisis at ICBC, the New Democrats did face up to the need to finally act to contain costs.

The result was two pieces of legislation tabled Monday, one addressing the cap on settlements and other costs, the other providing for minor claims to be channelled into a less expensive dispute-resolution process.

But as legislative packages go, this one raised as many questions as it answered, being awash in generalities with specifics …read more

Source:: Vancouver Sun

Large open fires already banned in Cariboo

Large fires are banned in the Cariboo and in the territories governed by the Tsilhqot’in until late September, it was announced Monday.

A joint announcement from the B.C. Wildfire Service, the Tsilhqot’in National Government and the community of Xeni Gwet’in, states that category 3 open fires are prohibited from Loon Lake near Clinton in the south to the Cottonwood River near Quesnel in the north, and from Tweedsmuir Provincial Park in the west to Wells Gray Provincial Park in the east.

Fires larger than two metres high by three metres high are not permitted, nor can property owners have three or more burning piles of a similar size at any one time, they cannot burn windrows and the burning of grass or stubbled must be contained to an area no larger than 2000 square metres.

“This expanded open burning prohibition…is intended to help prevent human-caused wildfires and protect public safety,” they said in a statement.

The prohibition began April 23 and will remain in place until midnight on Sept. 29. It does not apply “within the boundaries of a local government that has forest fire prevention bylaws in place and is serviced by a fire department,” the statement note, so check with your local government before burning.

Category 3 fires are banned in the Cariboo Fire Centre from Apr. 23 to Sept. 29, 2018.

Campfires that are a half-metre in height and width are still allowed.

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“Anyone found in contravention of an open burning prohibition may be issued a ticket for $1,150, required to pay an administrative penalty of $10,000 or, if convicted in court, fined up to $100,000 and/or sentenced to one year in jail. If the contravention causes or contributes to a wildfire, the person responsible may be ordered to pay all firefighting and associated costs.”

To report a wildfire, …read more

Source:: Vancouver Sun

Q&A: Jessica Holmes takes a comedic look at her own dark days with depression

Comedian and actor Jessica Holmes had a great career and a happy, supportive family so it seemed a bit strange that she couldn’t get off the couch.

The star of own comedy TV show The Holmes Show and then a member of venerable Royal Canadian Air Farce, Holmes was also doing gigs opening for the likes of Jerry Seinfeld and Ellen DeGeneres. She even landed an MC job for a big Oprah event.

But despite appearances and opportunities Holmes’ sofa slump didn’t abate. Finally she was diagnosed with depression. But as any good comedian knows everything has the potential to become material so Holmes took her mental health and made it the topic of her self-deprecating, candid, and emotional and funny new book Depression the Comedy.

Comedian and actor Jessica Holmes talks about her battle with depression in her new book Depression the Comedy. Photo: Submitted [PNG Merlin Archive] ORG XMIT: POS1804151945150185

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Holmes will be in Vancouver to perform at the Love Her Ovarian Cancer fundraiser on May 3 at the Fairmont Hotel.

Postmedia News caught up with Holmes to talk about the book and how she’s feeling?

Q: Why did you want to do this book?

A: I just felt like it what was my inner muse was pushing me to do so. It just felt natural for a comedian to sort through her feelings this way.

Q: Did you have thoughts about doing a book while you were depressed?

A: As soon as I was diagnosed I thought the only way to make the last two years not a total waste would be to turn this into something that could help other people. I would say the only upside …read more

Source:: Vancouver Sun

4/20 is a ‘$2-million illegal trade fair’, with taxpayers left to pay for cleanup

The City of Vancouver is consulting lawyers about its options to force 4/20 organizers to pay for costs incurred during and after the annual pro-pot rallies at Sunset Beach.

The city objects to organizers calling Friday’s event, where a conservative estimate of $2 million of marijuana was sold, a “protest”, which would exempt organizers from paying for its extra policing and cleanup costs.

“The city does not have the legal authority to collect costs for this unsanctioned and unpermitted event that the organizers deem a protest,” said city spokesman Jag Sandhu in an email. “The city has significant concerns regarding the commercial nature of the event, and questions the characterization of that activity as a protest.”

He said individuals have a right to protest and money shouldn’t be a barrier to that, but “we expect commercial activity like the 4/20 event to cover the total costs incurred. We are continuing to look into that issue with legal counsel,” he said.

The city hasn’t yet tallied this year’s costs, but last year it spent almost $250,000, mostly for additional policing for the event that wasn’t granted official permission by the city or Vancouver Park Board. The city’s costs were $150,000 in 2016.

Last year, the park board recouped $7,000, the cost of reseeding the Sunset Beach Park lawn, from organizers.

“We agreed to repay $7,000 for the grass,” said organizer Dana Larsen, who said the annual rally is needed to protest laws against pot use and “continued discrimination” against users.

Larsen said 100,000 people visited the event during the day. If each attendee spent $20, which Larsen agreed “was about right,” revenues for the eight-hour event would have amounted to $2 million.

He said he refused to pay, among other fees, a charge of $30,000 for park board staff who would have been working anyway, $200 for lost concession …read more

Source:: Vancouver Sun