Kingston neighbours bond over kindness Facebook group

When Tracy Hubbard found out about the a buy-nothing project on Facebook, she decided it was something Kingston needed.

She became the administrator and the Buy Nothing Project Kingston-West was born.

“It goes back to the days when my grandparents were alive and they talked to their neighbours and said, ‘I have too many tomatoes or too many cucumbers, would you like some?” Hubbard said.

The Facebook group is a place to gift things you no longer need, such as toys, books, clothes, even a toilet. It’s also a place to express needs.

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“We had a member who had to move suddenly and so as the admin team we posted for her and we gave off a list of what she needed and on moving day she had everything she needed to start a brand new apartment, a brand new life,” Hubbard said.

The groups are hyper-local and in Kingston alone, there are three: Kingston West, Central, and East.

The idea started in Washington with two founding members and quickly grew.

“We are on six continents, in over 100 countries with over 4 million members,” Sherose Bodruddin said.

The stories of kindness within the Buy Nothing are endless: A gift of a cassette player so a woman could hear the voice of her birth father she had never met, the gift of meal kits to a family unable to get to the grocery store and people even banding together collecting items for Northern Beginnings — a charity that ships baby goods to Iqaluit.

“The community has really turned out. So far we’ve shipped 14 boxes just from our small community here in Kingston,” Amelie Brack said.

The feel-good stories continue. The gift of a ramp for a senior dog and the gift of homemade pies for a family’s thanksgiving.

“Even through the darkest and worst days when people aren’t kind,” Hubbard said. “There is a whole circle of kindness out there-you just have to look for it.”

Buy nothing founders say the movement is catching on so well that no matter where you are in Canada, there is probably one in your community already.

Now, they hope to launch an app in the coming months, making the generosity of neighbours even more accessible.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Diners at Whistler burger restaurant warned of possible hepatitis A exposure

People who dined at a Whistler burger restaurant are being warned of a possible exposure to hepatitis A.

Vancouver Coastal Health says anyone who dined at Splitz Grill at 4369 Main Street between noon and 9 p.m. on Saturday Oct. 9 may have been exposed to the virus.

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“While the risk of transmission remains low, public health advises anyone who consumed food at this restaurant during this specific time period and who are not protected against hepatitis A, to get immunized against the virus,” the health authority said in an exposure notice.

The health authority is holding a walk-in hepatitis A vaccine clinic at the Whistler Community Health Centre for anyone who needs immunization.

People who have previously been infected with the virus or have received two doses of hepatitis A vaccine are already protected.

According to VCH, hepatitis A attacks the liver, and is most commonly found in the stools of an infected person. It can be spread when someone eats or drinks something that has come in contact with infected stools, it said.

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Symptoms of hepatitis A include fatigue, an upset stomach, a loss of appetite, weight loss and fever.

The health authority says it can take several weeks for symptoms to manifest.

Most people who are infected are able to clear the virus without long-term liver problems, but it can be more serious in rare cases according to the health officials.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

California high school teacher on leave after 'offensive' Native American depiction

WATCH ABOVE: California teacher placed on leave after student films her dancing in Native American headgear

A teacher at a California high school has been placed on leave after being filmed doing what is being described as an “offensive depiction” of Native American culture.

In a video posted to Instagram, the teacher — who was not named in the video or by the high school — is seen wearing a headdress and dancing with her arms up in the air while making several noises.

The description in the video said that the student, who identifies as Native American, began filming his teacher after several minutes of “war hooping and tomahawk chopping.”

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According to the post, the video was taken at John W. North high school in Riverside, Calif., in a math class, and that the student felt he “had the right to record” as he felt that “violence was being committed against him.”

In a statement Thursday, the Riverside Unified School District Administration confirmed that it was a recording of one of their teachers and that she has been placed on leave.

“These behaviors are completely unacceptable and an offensive depiction of the vast and expansive Native American cultures and practices,” read the statement.

“Her actions do not represent the values of our district. The teacher has been placed on leave while the District conducts an investigation.”

The video of the teacher, which quickly viral online, prompted widespread anger and criticism.

“There’s an easier and much less racist way to teach the soh-cah-toa rules for trig,” wrote one user on Twitter.

“All that to teach a class SohCahToa? SohCahToa is like the only thing I remember from HS, and the teach didn’t disrespect or mock our Indigenous ancestors to get me to remember it,” wrote another user.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Municipal Affairs officials to review legal recourse regarding Calgary councillor Chu

WATCH: Calgary political scientist Duane Bratt joins Global News’ Linda Olsen to discuss Ward 4 city councillor Sean Chu saying he will not resign amid various allegations.

Alberta’s minister of Municipal Affairs, Ric McIver, said he’s asked outside legal counsel and “non-partisan department officials to review the Municipal Government Act to verify what legal recourse — if any — exists for a minister” in the context of allegations against Calgary Councillor-elect Sean Chu.

Chu is facing increased pressure to resign, including earlier comments from the mayor-elect and nine of his fellow councillors-elect following a CBC News story about an investigation into Chu’s conduct as a Calgary police officer involving a minor.

“I have called for him to resign. Most members of the new council have called for him to resign,” mayor-elect Jyoti Gondek said Thursday.

“Chu should absolutely resign.”

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The mayor-elect said she won’t take part in swearing-in the embattled councillor.

Gondek is also calling on the province to use its powers under the Municipal Government Act and the Local Authorities Election Act.

“But I would recommend that Bill 52, which is the recall legislation that has been given royal assent but it’s yet to be proclaimed. If it is proclaimed, they can take action immediately,” Gondek said.

On Thursday night, the Alberta government released a statement addressing the growing calls about Chu.

“The allegations against Sean Chu are very serious,” Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver said in the statement. “Any time an impropriety is alleged against a minor, the situation immediately becomes even more severe.

“Contrary to what some have suggested, the minister of Municipal Affairs cannot simply arbitrarily ‘fire’ an elected municipal official.”

However, McIver said that following the recent revelations about Chu, he’s asked “non-partisan” ministry officials to take a closer look at the act and see if the province has any jurisdiction in this case.

“The expert advice I have received from officials states that the tools within the Municipal Government Act — both an ‘inspection’ and ‘inquiry’ — are focused on wrongdoing committed by a council or councillor while performing their duties with respect to the operations of a municipality,” McIver stated.

“These elements within the law were not developed to address personal conduct of an elected official dating back many years before that individual entered public office, and it is questionable whether they could be used effectively in the current situation.

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“The Municipal Government Act is very clear on the issue of a Criminal Code (Canada) conviction. Councillors convicted of an offence punishable by imprisonment for five or more years or of an offence under sections 123, 124 or 125 of the Criminal Code (Canada) are disqualified from office and must resign immediately or may be removed by application to the court.

“However, that criteria does not apply in this matter as no conviction exists.

McIver said he understands the “justifiable public interest in this unprecedented situation” and, because of the case’s uniqueness, as well as the “lack of clarity for recourse in the Municipal Government Act, I have asked for outside, independent legal counsel to review the legislation and provide expert advice on what action — if any — the minister of Municipal Affairs may legally take.”

McIver said he’s asked for the review to be completed as quickly as possible.

He said he intends to make the expert advice public.

Thursday afternoon, Chu detailed a pair of incidents that have been the subject of recent reports, including allegations of impropriety with a minor that came to light via a CBC News story.

Less than a week before entering his third term as councillor, Chu said he didn’t share the incidents with his electorate because he thought they weren’t relevant.

“This happened 24 years ago and the case (was) resolved at that time, and I believe that has nothing to do with being a councillor,” he said.

Chu said at the time he took an hours-long polygraph test, which he said he passed. He said a “thorough investigation was conducted.”

“I considered the matter to have been investigated, a penalty applied and served, and the incident now resolved.”

— with files from Adam Toy

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Queen's student association says homecoming parties were 'over-policed'

The student government at Queen’s University isn’t happy with how policing was handled at last weekend’s street parties.

The Alma Mater Society (AMS) claims the parties were ‘over-policed’ and the tactics used were ineffective, excessive and harmful to marginalized students.

In a statement issued Wednesday, the AMS expressed disappointment over the large gatherings of students, in defiance of the municipality’s emergency order, but also took issue with the police presence.

“We felt that not only was this excessive, but it was ineffective and the effects of increased policing are even greater for our marginalized students,” AMS Director of Communications Maddie Zarb said.

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Kingston’s mayor sees the situation very differently, citing beer bottles being thrown at police, fights and a stabbing in Victoria Park.

“I think it was a very unfortunate situation all around,” Paterson said. “Quite frankly I think police handled themselves with professionalism and ultimately had to respond in the most effective way they could.”

“I really take offence to the fact that this is called over-policing and that the blame is on the police,” Chief of Police Antje McNeely said.

She adds the presence and response of officers are based on a number of factors including intelligence gathering, and measures taken at similar events in other communities.

“You’ve got people, influencers that are bringing people to our community, you don’t know who is going to be coming here, and so we have to be safe,” McNeely said.

“We’ve got vulnerable people in that group that are highly intoxicated. You’ve got people that are running around that are willing to prey on people that are vulnerable.

The Queen’s AMS has been referring students that feel they were unfairly targeted by police to Queen’s legal aid and a campaign has been launched to inform students of their rights.

“This outlines students’ rights when dealing with law enforcement as well as where they can report police maltreatment,” Zarb said. “It also goes over Kingston bylaws and emergency orders.”

Kingston and the Islands MP and former mayor Mark Gerretsen says if anything, he’s hearing that residents want the city taking a harder line with partiers.

“I’ve had hundreds of emails and messages saying the police should have used more force,” Gerretsen said.

He is now calling on the university to adjust its code of conduct to include off-campus events.

“And if people are charged and convicted of offences especially on weekends like this they will be expelled from the school,” Gerretsen said.

Kingston’s police chief says they will be in the university district this weekend in a similar fashion to the first homecoming weekend.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Call for civic ballots to be randomized in Vernon, B.C.

WATCH: When it comes to city council elections, some in Vernon are concerned a Jones might have a better chance of getting elected than a Smith. That's because candidates are listed on ballots in alphabetical order and research suggests being at the top of the list could be an advantage. Reporter Megan Turcato has more on a call to randomize local ballots.

When it comes to city council elections, some in Vernon, B.C., are concerned a candidate with the last name Jones might have a better chance of getting elected than a candidate with the last name Smith.

That’s because candidates are listed on ballots in alphabetical order, and research suggests being at the top of the list could be an advantage.

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A Vernon resident says her group believes the issue is important enough that local officials should re-consider listing candidate names in alphabetical order.

“We are asking that councillors direct staff to study the issue of randomizing the ballot,” said Vernon resident Sue Young, who says she is not planning to run for office herself.

“I think, as a concerned citizen, a citizen wanting to see democratic process without a bias perceived or real, that I just think it is really important that councillors be put on the ballot in any order.”

Young points to academic research done in Quebec that found candidates who are at the bottom of the list of names on a ballot are at a disadvantage in municipal elections.

Co-researcher Alexandre Blanchet said in some cases, the name order disadvantage was large enough that it could make a difference between winning or losing.

The research didn’t find the same impact of ballot order in provincial elections.

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“Municipal elections are not as well structured by political parties and so, lacking information, voters are influenced by irrelevant factors, by these very small cognitive biases that we all have. They are influenced by simple thing as the name order on the ballot,” said Blanchet, a researcher at the École Nationale d’Administration Publique.

Under the rules governing local elections in B.C., ballot order should be alphabetical by last name unless a municipality passes a bylaw to allow the ballot order to be determined by drawing names.

Young’s group plans to present to Vernon council next week to urge them to consider it.

“Vancouver did it in 2018, they are going to do it again in 2022: bring people into a room, put the names in a hat, draw them out… it’s not onerous,” said Young.

“We just feel that for a fairer democratic process this…seems pretty obvious.”

Young is hoping that the rule change is in place in time for civic elections in the fall of 2022.

She believes it is too late in the process to change the rules for the upcoming Vernon byelection where nominations are already underway.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

U.S. CDC approves Moderna, J&J COVID-19 vaccine boosters, along with mixing of shots

WATCH: FDA set to authorize mixing and matching for 3rd COVID-19 booster shots in U.S.

Millions more Americans can get a COVID-19 booster and choose a different company’s vaccine for that next shot, federal health officials said Thursday.

Certain people who received Pfizer vaccinations months ago already are eligible for a booster and now the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says specific Moderna and Johnson & Johnson recipients qualify, too. And in a bigger change, the agency is allowing the flexibility of “mixing and matching” that extra dose regardless of which type people received first.

The Food and Drug Administration had already authorized such an expansion of the nation’s booster campaign on Wednesday, and it was also endorsed Thursday by a CDC advisory panel. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky had the final word on who gets the extra doses.

“We’re at a different place in the pandemic than we were earlier” when supply constraints meant people had to take whatever shot they were offered, noted CDC adviser Dr. Helen Keipp Talbot of Vanderbilt University.

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She called it “priceless” to be able to choose a different kind for the booster if, for example, someone might be at risk for a rare side effect from a specific vaccine.

There still are restrictions on who qualifies and when for a booster. Starting six months past their last Pfizer vaccination, people are urged to get a booster if they’re 65 or older, nursing home residents, or at least 50 and at increased risk of severe disease because of health problems. Boosters also were allowed, but not urged, for adults of any age at increased risk of infection because of health problems or their jobs or living conditions. That includes health care workers, teachers and people in jails or homeless shelters.

The same booster qualifications apply to Moderna recipients. Moderna’s booster will come at half the dose of the original two shots.

As for recipients of the single-shot J&J vaccine, a COVID-19 booster is recommended for everyone at least two months after their vaccination. That’s because the J&J vaccine hasn’t proved as protective as the two-dose Moderna or Pfizer options.

The CDC panel didn’t explicitly recommend anyone get a different brand than they started with but left open the option — saying only that a booster of some sort was recommended. And some of the advisers said they would prefer that J&J recipients receive a competitor’s booster, citing preliminary data from an ongoing government study that suggested a bigger boost in virus-fighting antibodies from that combination.

About two-thirds of Americans eligible for COVID-19 shots are fully vaccinated, and the government says getting first shots to the unvaccinated remain the priority. While health authorities hope boosters will shore up waning immunity against milder coronavirus infections, all the vaccines still offer strong protection against hospitalizations and death.

And CDC’s advisers wrestled with whether people who didn’t really need boosters might be getting them, especially young, otherwise healthy adults whose only qualification was their job.

Dr. Sarah Long of Drexel University voiced concerns about opening those people to rare but serious side effects from another dose if they already were adequately protected.

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“I have my own concerns that we appear to be recommending vaccines for people who I don’t think need it,” added Dr. Beth Bell of the University of Washington.

But she stressed that the vaccines work and that moving forward with the recommendations makes sense for the sake of being clear and allowing flexibility when it comes to boosters.

Despite the concerns by some members, the panels’ votes ended up being unanimous.

The vast majority of the nearly 190 million Americans who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 have received the Pfizer or Moderna options, while J&J recipients account for only about 15 million.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

City, applicants await ruling on injunction to stop Hamilton from dismantling encampments

Counsel representing homeless residents returned to a courtroom on Thursday seeking a permanent injunction to stop Hamilton from dismantling dozens of small encampments city officials claim are unsustainable.

The matter is now in the hands of Justice Andrew J. Goodman, who heard arguments on Thursday in the form of written testimony and legacy judgments connected to those who are destitute.

Before departing Goodman requested written submissions of what was essentially heard by Monday from both the city’s representatives and counsel arguing on behalf of homeless residents and their advocates.

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During Thursday’s session, lawyer Michael Bordin laid out processes for the city’s current outreach programs and insisted that efforts to shelter and place residents in temporary and permanent housing do not cause “irreparable harm,” as suggested by homeless supporters.

At one juncture, counsel used a set of photos depicting damage done to city property to make it’s case arguing encampments propagate safety issues in addition to incurred costs for the general public related to security, waste removal and remediation.

Alleged damage to a Gage Park washroom in which copper pipes were stolen represented a small sample of the estimated $400,000 in additional costs the city incurred amid the pandemic related to encampments which damaged trees, grass and other permanent structures.

An affidavit from the city’s manager of parks, Kara Bunn, was one of the written filings which stated the encampments increased city maintenance costs through unauthorized use of electricity and calls to clean up discarded needles and drug paraphernalia.

Counsel also read affidavits from nearby residents who say they’ve experienced neighbourhood vandalism, defecation and witnessed mental health issues.

Bordin also attempted to debunk the applicants suggestion that moving residents from encampments to shelters put them at greater risk, particularly with exposure to COVID-19, by suggesting that trauma, drug overdoses and alcoholism are greater risks based on reports from city paramedics.

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He also went on to argue that encampments create a “secondary shelter” system which “undermines” and draws money away from the city’s current sustainable housing program.

However, counsel for the applicants suggested the city has not created any new shelter space for the homeless, citing recent dates in mid-October when the director of housing services stated the system didn’t have enough beds on a given night.

The representatives went on to say COVID “exasperated” the city’s homeless situation and that as uncomfortable as encampments are for those living in them it is an opportunity to evade “psychological harm.”

Wade Poziomka, co-counsel for HamSmart and Keeping Six, echoed those sentiments in an interview with 900 CHML’s Good Morning Hamilton said they’re seeking recognition that some homeless people have nowhere else to go.

“The solution for everybody is ultimately to eliminate encampments. The Hamilton Community Legal Clinic and their clients aren’t fighting to say we need to have permanent encampments in the city of Hamilton, they’re fighting to say that there’s no other option,” Poziomka said.

In a social media post on Wednesday, the clinic clarified what counsel are seeking from the justice which is not a ruling allowing encampments anywhere, but one that would allow it with conditions.

Those circumstances include groupings of six tents and setups in parks with a 50 metre distance rule in relation to playground, school, or childcare centre.

The groupings of six would also have to remain 200 metres from any other similar encampment grouping.

Just before Goodman closed the hearing on Thursday, city counsel Bordin left the justice with one more hypothetical characterizing the scope of the injunction being sought a very broad.

“Every single homeless person that the injunction sought can set up an encampment within’ the hearing of this matter,” said Bordin.

‘This is no determination of the threshold.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

'Terrifying' and 'super scary' say B.C. parents of infant respiratory illness during COVID-19

Mother-of-two Jasmine Barahona says it’s scary to have a child with respiratory illness at the best of times, but it’s even more terrifying during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Her nine-month-old son Logan was born premature and has respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which has him coughing, wheezing and restless around the clock.

“It’s terrifying because there’s a risk with him being a preemie, of being on oxygen, there’s a risk of his lungs collapsing because he’s so little,” she said.

“I don’t bring him out, I’m scared. I don’t really see family because I’m scared he’s just going to end up in the hospital.”

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Respiratory syncytial virus has the same symptoms as a cold and is very common and contagious, but can cause complications in children who are born premature, or have other medical vulnerabilities.

Barahona said she and Logan have visited the hospital more than a dozen times in the past two months. He’s been tested for COVID-19, has an inhaler, and will likely have asthma for the rest of his life.

“It hit us like a truck,” she told Global News. “My first (son) has built a lot of immunity but my little one has not, so I’m constantly having to worry, clean the house, clean their hands.”

This week, BC Children’s Hospital reported a spike in RSV cases, and due to similar symptoms of COVID-19, an increase in testing for that virus as well.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control has also recorded increased rates for respiratory illness that have passed the historical average since mid-August, and continue to climb.

Stories like Barahona’s are becoming more common, causing distress for parents and their children.

“These are kids who don’t normally have it hitting them, hitting them this early or even just hitting them,” said Vancouver family physician Dr. Anna Wolak.

“They’re usually able to run around with cough, cold, running nose, so it is hitting them harder than they’re used to.”

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Last winter, there were no reported RSV cases in B.C.

Health experts believe that, combined with COVID-19 health measures like masking and handwashing, contributed to a lack of immunity to respiratory illnesses this season.

It’s especially difficult for women who were pregnant during the pandemic, added Wolak, since they weren’t out and about as often, and exposed to circulating viruses.

“The level of immunity or level of antibodies to protect the babies are lower,” she explained.

Kamloops, B.C. resident Amanda Clarke said virtually all of her friends’ kids have some kind of virus this year, including her own two-year-old son, Arthur.

“Until this week, he’s never had a cold or anything,” she said. “Then we put him to bed Monday night, he woke up after about an hour and had a fever of almost 106 degrees, and was having trouble breathing.”

Arthur was diagnosed with croup, a common ailment in children most often caused by a parainfluenza virus. Clark said it was “super scary,” but he’s on the mend.

Public health officials are urging parents to get the COVID-19 and flu vaccines, and immunize their children, if eligible.

They’re also encouraging parents to ensure that their children’s routine immunizations are up to date.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

RCMP seek tips in connection with Tuesday evening 100 Mile House homicide

Police in the B.C. Interior are appealing for tips in a homicide in 100 Mile House earlier this week.

B.C. RCMP said officers were called to an industrial area of the community Tuesday evening to reports of what sounded like gunshots.

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Police arrived to find a person who had been fatally injured.

Mounties have not provided any details about the victim, save that evidence at the scene indicates their death was a homicide.

Anyone with information is asked to contact 100 Mile House RCMP at 250-395-2456.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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