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Scalper bots despised
The Canadian Press - Aug 13 - BC Biz

Photo: The Canadian Press
Solicitor General Mike Farnworth

The vast majority of British Columbians consulted by the provincial government say they want “scalper bots” banned from snatching up event tickets online and reselling them to music and sports fans at exorbitant prices.

The ministry of the solicitor general says in a report released today that 6,500 people responded to its questionnaire, which will inform Minister Mike Farnworth’s decisions as he moves to regulate the ticket selling industry.

Of those, 97 per cent said they want a ban on the use of bots, which use algorithms to bypass limits on the number of tickets one person can buy online.

And 83 per cent said they support setting a price limit on resold tickets.

About one in 10 respondents who reported buying tickets through a secondary seller said they were unable to get into the event, and of those, only 16 per cent were successful in receiving a refund from the secondary seller.

In Ontario, legislation banning “scalper bots” that bypass limits on the number of tickets one person can buy came into effect on Jan. 1. The law also limits resale prices to 50 per cent above face value.

The push followed outcry from Tragically Hip fans who were blocked from buying tickets to frontman Gord Downie’s farewell tour, before his death from brain cancer.

Government needs weed
Okanagan Edge Staff - Aug 10 - BC Biz

Photo: The Canadian Press

The provincial government is looking for more people from which to buy cannabis.

The B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch has announced a second product call in an “effort to expand its wholesale product assortment for non-medical cannabis.” It has already entered into memorandums of understanding with 32 licensed producers.

Recreational cannabis will become legal in Canada on Oct. 17.

The LDB is looking for producers of dried cannabis (including pre-rolls), cannabis oils, capsules and seeds that comply with federal requirements. The product call will be in effect from Aug. 13 to 31.

Submission documents are available here.

The LDB also announced Friday that it will be implementing a 15 per cent markup on cannabis’ landed cost, which is the total price of a product or shipment once it has arrived at a buyer’s doorstep.

ICBC targets bad drivers
The Canadian Press - Aug 09 - BC Biz

Photo: Sarah Mammel

VANCOUVER — Inexperienced and high-risk drivers would pay more for their vehicle insurance in British Columbia under proposed changes to modernize the province’s Crown auto insurance corporation.

The provincial government introduced the changes to the way premiums are calculated in a plan to shift more responsibility to those drivers who cause crashes.

The changes would include insurance discounts for drivers with up to 40 years of driving experience and moving to a driver-based model, so at-fault crashes are tied to the driver and not the vehicle owner.

Those drivers who have caused crashes in the last decade will pay more under the new system, but they can waive one at-fault crash if they have 20 years experience and are 10 years crash-free.

The government says the changes are revenue-neutral, while making insurance premiums fairer, and they will have no effect on the forecasted $1.3 billion deficit faced by the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia.

It says changes introduced by Attorney General David Eby earlier this year were aimed at reducing the deficit, including a $5,500 payout cap on pain and suffering in minor injury claims.

ALR committee wants action
Okanagan Edge Staff - Aug 09 - BC Biz

Photo: Getty Images

The move to protect and raise the profile of B.C.’s Agricultural Land Reserve is well underway.

The independent Minister’s Advisory Committee for Revitalizing the ALR and the Agricultural Land Commission this week submitted its interim report to Minister of Agriculture Lana Popham.

The committee made 13 recommendations for legislative and regulatory change, and four recommendations for action to protect the ALR. It also noted 14 “key issues” that it will continue to examine before submitting its final report.

It’s clear the committee that has been studying the issue for the last seven months believes the ALR is at risk.

“The committee is of the opinion that unless the province raises the profile of agricultural land and agriculture across all provincial agencies, an erosion of the ALR and a decline of B.C.’s agriculture industry is likely to continue,” the report stated. “An across- government policy shift that perceives agriculture as a sustainable resource industry is critical.”

Farmers’ markets launch site
Okanagan Edge Staff - Aug 09 - BC Biz

Image: Contributed

The B.C. Association of Farmers’ Markets has come up with an easy way to find its goods throughout the province.

There are 145 farmers’ markets in B.C., and everything anyone needs to know about them can be found on the organization’s newly launched website at www.bcfarmersmarkettrail.com.

The BC Farmers’ Market Trail will give visitors and B.C. residents the ability to “easily discover regional farmers’ markets selling freshly harvested fruits and vegetables, locally raised meat and eggs, artisanal cheese, preserves and honey, craft beer, wine and spirits, savoury treats and handmade artisan goods.”

Electricity rates don’t rise
Okanagan Edge Staff - Aug 07 - BC Biz

File photo

The cost of electricity is staying the same for the rest of the calendar year.

The B.C. Utilities Commission approved FortisBC’s request to maintain 2017 electricity rates in 2018. An interim rate, which was the 2017 price, was put in place until BCUC made its decision.

“We’re pleased our customers will see no change to their electricity rates this year,” FortisBC’s vice-president of regulatory affairs, Diane Roy, said in a press release. “Keeping rates as low as possible is always a priority for us, and this year’s results reflect the success we’ve had in reducing costs while continuing to make necessary system improvements.”

FortisBC says its rates are below average when compared to other North American cities, “even though it has invested more than $1 billion in system upgrade projects since taking over the utility in 2004. The cost of these past projects is now absorbed into rates through smaller, annual increments that ensure the investments are recovered over the life of the upgrades.”

Flair joins Aeroplan group
The Canadian Press - Aug 07 - BC Biz

Photo: Contributed

MONTREAL — Aimia Inc. has signed Aeroplan partnership agreements with two more Canadian airlines that will take effect in about two years, after its current agreement with Air Canada ends in 2020.

One of Aimia’s new partners is Air Transat, a long-established airline owned by Montreal-based travel and leisure company Transat AT.

Aimia’s other new partner is Flair Airlines, which began operating no-frills scheduled services to several cities last year from a hub at Edmonton International Airport.

They join Toronto-based Porter Airlines as recent partners in the Aeroplan points system, which Air Canada has said it will replace with its own loyalty points program when the Aimia contract expires.

Air Canada led a consortium of bidders to buy the loyalty program for as much as $325 million plus $2 billion of points liabilities, an offer that Aimia rejected last week.

Aimia has said it remains open to negotiating a fair deal with Air Canada and indicated that it would consider an offer of at least $450 million.

Flair done with Hamilton
The Canadian Press - Aug 03 - BC Biz

Photo: Contributed

TORONTO — Flair Airlines is planning to leave Hamilton this fall for Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, just months after new ultra-low-cost rival Swoop landed at the smaller airport.

The airline based in Kelowna, B.C., said Friday that its Hamilton service will end on Oct. 27.

“After extensive analysis we made the determination that due to market size and competition we felt that we could have a greater impact in Toronto,” spokeswoman Julie Rempel said in an interview.

Even though Pearson costs are higher, Flair’s yields and passenger load factors were higher for its flights to Edmonton and consistently outperformed flights from Hamilton, she said.

Routes to Winnipeg and Edmonton will be transferred to Toronto while seasonal flights between Halifax and Toronto are slated to start next spring.

Flair will next week announce its first service to the United States with flights to six destinations starting in December. It is also finalizing a change in aircraft type.

The airline had the John C. Munro airport in Hamilton to itself as an ultra low-cost carrier until WestJet’s Swoop subsidiary set up its eastern Canadian base of operations in June.

Asked if there is room for two ultra low-cost competitors in Hamilton, Rempel said Flair isn’t sticking around to find out.


Vancouver house sales plummet
The Canadian Press - Aug 02 - BC Biz

Image: The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER — Home sales in July across Metro Vancouver tumbled to their lowest level in 18 years in statistics compiled by the real estate board, but prices remained steady since last month.

The Greater Vancouver Real Estate Board says 2,070 properties changed hands in July, a 30 per cent plunge when compared with July of last year and about 29 per cent below the 10-year sales average for the month.

The number of condos, townhomes and detached houses listed for sale was up 32 per cent year-over-year and 1.6 per cent since June.

The real estate board says the benchmark price for all residential properties was just under $1.1 million, a 6.7 per cent hike over July 2017 but a slip of 0.6 per cent since June.

Board president Phil Moore says the number of sales to active listings across Metro Vancouver last month was pegged at almost 10 per cent for detached homes, 20 per cent for townhomes and about 27 per cent for condos.

Analysts expect downward pressure on prices when the ratio dips below 12 per cent, while property prices tend to climb when it is over 20 per cent.

Moore said there’s less upward pressure on home prices across the region.

“This is most pronounced in the detached home market, but demand in the townhome and apartment markets is also relenting from the more frenetic pace experienced over the last few years,” Moore said in a news release on Wednesday.

Real estate board data shows July sales of single detached homes plunged nearly 33 per cent compared with July of last year, while the almost $1.6 million benchmark price slipped 1.5 per cent over the same period and is down 0.6 per cent since June.

Sales of condos decreased 26.5 per cent year-over-year while sales of townhomes fell by almost 35 per cent, but both property types have seen price hikes above 12 per cent since last July.

The benchmark price is $700,500, for a condo and $856,000 for a townhome, but the board says prices for condos and townhomes have slipped about 0.5 per cent since June.

“With increased mortgage rates and stricter lending requirements, buyers and sellers are opting to take a wait-and-see approach for the time being,” Moore said.

Vancouver wants decrepit hotels
The Canadian Press - Jul 30 - BC Biz

Photo: Contributed

VANCOUVER — The City of Vancouver is moving to assume ownership of two decaying hotels on the Downtown Eastside that had been home to some of the city’s most vulnerable residents.

The city announced it has filed a notice of expropriation for the Balmoral and Regent hotels, which were both closed over health and safety concerns.

It says in a news release that the buildings were closed due to decades of mismanagement by the owners resulting in structural and life-safety concerns.

More than 300 of the city’s lowest-income tenants needed to be relocated when the buildings were shut down.

The city says it made an offer to the owners to purchase both hotels for a value based on independent appraisals but the offer was rejected, and the owners now have the option of asking for an inquiry before council considers the expropriation.

No one from the Sahota family, which owns the two properties, was immediately available for comment and the family’s lawyer, Michael Katzalay, says he hasn’t had an opportunity to discuss the matter with them.

When the city shut down the Regent Hotel last month, Mayor Gregor Robertson said in a statement that it had been the subject of more than 1,000 outstanding bylaw violations, including 445 that were referred for prosecution.

Last year, the city filed 60 charges alleging bylaw infractions in relation to the Balmoral Hotel over breaches it said included failure to maintain walls, ceilings and floors to adequate standards and unacceptable plumbing facilities.

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