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Blaze guts business strip
Jon Manchester - Jun 23 - BC Biz

Image: CTV

A fire in commercial strip overnight has destroyed several businesses in Vancouver’s Kerrisdale neighbourhood.

The three-alarm fire broke out 8 p.m. Thursday on West 41st Avenue and Maple Street.

At least one business was totally gutted in the row of small shops, and six were affected in total to varying degrees. The strip contained a fashion store, hair salon, thrift store and other shops as well as two apartments.

One of those homes is said to have been destroyed as well, CTV reports.

Black smoke poured from the blaze and could be seen across much of the city.

Firefighters were still pouring water on the buildings early Friday.

No injuries were reported in the blaze.

There’s no word on what may have caused the fire.

First Nation airport deal
The Canadian Press - Jun 22 - BC Biz

Image: Vancouver International Airport

A Lower Mainland First Nation has signed a long-term benefits agreement with Vancouver International Airport.

The Musqueam Indian Band and airport officials say in a release that the 30-year deal is based on “friendship and respect” and is meant to be mutually beneficial.

The airport sits on the traditional territory of the Musqueam people.

Chief Wayne Sparrow says the agreement provides Musqueam people with employment opportunities at the airport as well as a voice in future development and environmental enhancements.

It also includes a number of scholarships and new jobs for the First Nation, protection of archeological resources and one per cent of annual revenue from the airport.

Vancouver Airport Authority CEO Craig Richmond says the agreement is not only good for business, but it’s the right way for the airport to move forward in the community it serves.

Liberal clock ticks down
The Canadian Press - Jun 21 - BC Biz

Image: Twitter

The clock that counts down to the expected defeat of Premier Christy Clark’s minority government starts ticking Thursday with the throne speech.

After that, the province watches for a confidence vote that is expected to lead to the installation of an NDP government propped up by the Green party.

But the prospect of defeat hasn’t deterred the Liberals from releasing details of the throne speech in advance, including major policy shifts on issues the party stood against in last month’s election campaign, ranging from increasing monthly welfare rates by $100 to a ban on corporate and union donations to political parties.

Clark said the Liberals heard from voters that social issues and political fundraising reforms are major concerns and the government is now prepared to act on them.

NDP house leader Mike Farnworth said the election showed voters want the Liberals out after 16 years in office.

“All of a sudden they’ve had an in-the-coffin conversion,” he said.

“After having 16 years to deal with these issues they say, ‘Oh, we actually want to deal with them.’ People are just going to reject that as outright cynicism by this government.”

Farnworth said the NDP will table a motion Monday to amend the throne speech, which sets the stage for a confidence vote on June 29.

Welfare hike promised
The Canadian Press - Jun 19 - BC Biz

Image: BC Government Flickr

There will be a promise to raise welfare rates in British Columbia in the government’s throne speech on Thursday, which is expected to set in motion the defeat of the Liberals after more than 16 years in office.

Social Development Minister Michelle Stilwell says the government wants to raise rates after freezing them for more than a decade, although she wouldn’t release details today on the size of the increase.

Stilwell did not dispute reports of a $100-a-month increase being planned to take effect either this September or in January.

A single person on welfare in B.C. receives $610 a month.

The New Democrats and Greens have an agreement to defeat the minority Liberal government in a confidence vote in the days that follow the throne speech.

Last month’s election saw the Liberals win 43 seats, one seat shy of a majority in the 87-seat legislature.

Under the deal between the NDP and Greens, the New Democrats would get a chance to form a government using their combined 44 seats.

Sweeping B.C. milk recall
Wayne Moore - Jun 16 - BC Biz

Image: Comtributed

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has issued a recall on several milk products sold in B.C.

The recall affects numerous varieties and sizes of Lucerne, Island Farms and Natrel milk products.

The products have been recalled due to the potential presence of harmful extraneous material. Consumers should not consume the recalled products.

The recall includes mainly two- and four-litre sizes of skimmed, partly skimmed and homogenized milk products. All best before dates are up to, and including, July 3.

Click here for a complete list of brands, sizes and best-before dates recalled.

CFIA is conducting a food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other products. If other high-risk products are recalled, the CFIA will notify the public through updated food recall warnings.

No illness have been reported in association with the products.

Atrium invests in Agog
Okanagan Edge Staff - Jun 15 - BC Biz

Image: Agog Labs Facebook

Kelowna’s Atrium Ventures is handing out more money this week, this time to the Victoria-based developer Agog Labs Inc.

Agog is the creator of SkookumScript, the premiere programming language and development platform for the creation of gameplay and AI within video games.

SkookumScript is currently used by more than 500 gaming studios and developers, and is integrated with the well-known game engine Unreal Engine 4.

Atrium, an entrepreneur-led venture capital corporation known for investing in promising new technology companies in British Columbia, said today it will invest $100,000 in Agog.

“Atrium is pleased to be making this investment and supporting the next stage of growth for Agog.  They are becoming well-positioned in the market, have a strong experienced team, and a great product,” said Jeff Keen, Atrium’s managing director.

Agog is led by gaming industry veterans Conan Reis and Markus Breyer.  Keen says the pair’s 40+  years in the industry give the “well-connected” pair a “deep domain knowledge.”

“We believe that Agog has a very bright future in the gaming industry.  Conan and his team have created a platform that allows studios to develop and get games to market faster, something we are all striving to do,” said Lance Priebe, the co-founder of Club Penguin, CEO of Hyper Hippo Games and Atrium investor.

Earlier this week, Atrium announced a $150,000 investment in Kelowna’s Perfit Dental Solutions Inc.

NDP will raise taxes: study
Jon Manchester - Jun 14 - BC Biz

Photo: The Canadian Press

Changes proposed in B.C. by an NDP-Green alliance would increase the yearly tax burden for the average family by $594, a study by the Fraser Institute finds.

“An NDP-Green government in B.C. would result in a marked shift in tax policy in the province, including an increase in personal income taxes, carbon taxes and business taxes,” said Niels Veldhuis, president of the Fraser Institute and co-author of the report.

The study finds the increases would add $1.4 billion to the tax burden of British Columbians, assuming the carbon tax increase is fully implemented in 2017.

Using a tax simulator, the Fraser Institute determined the average B.C. family’s tax bill would increase by $594 under a NDP-Green government, led mainly by a $482 increase in fuel and carbon taxes.

“British Columbians may soon face substantially higher taxes, given the changes proposed by the NDP and the Green Party. And their un-costed spending proposals mean future tax increases beyond those already announced are also likely,” Veldhuis said.

The proposals would increase the tax burden across the income spectrum: from $144 for families that earn between $20,000 and $50,000, to $389 for those that earn $50,000 to $100,000, to more than $1,000 for families earning $150,000 to $250,000.

The NDP and Greens have proposed a climate action rebate that would likely protect those in the lower income group from some or all of the tax increases, however details have not been specified.

Few houses, higher prices
The Canadian Press - Jun 13 - BC Biz

Photo: The Canadian Press

The British Columbia Real Estate Association says a lack of homes on the market means buyers are paying more for housing across the province.

The association has released figures for May showing 12,402 homes were sold in B.C. last month, down 7.9 per cent when compared with May last year.

Total listings also fell 11.1 per cent to 28,404 over the same period.

But the association says sales remained very active in May, surpassing the number of new listings by 20 per cent in nine of B.C.’s 11 real estate boards and topping 50 per cent in Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Chilliwack and Victoria.

Prices also jumped 4.2 per cent between May 2016 and last month, with the average B.C. home selling for $752,536.

Association chief economist Cameron Muir says despite strong consumer demand, the supply of homes for sale across the province has plunged 50 per cent over the last five years.

“The entire southern portion of the province is experiencing a shortage of housing supply, which makes continuing upward pressure on home prices inevitable, at least in the near term,” he says.

Foremost milk recalled
Jon Manchester - Jun 13 - BC Biz

Image: CFIA

If you bought milk at Superstore, you may need to throw it out.

Parent company Loblaw has recalled Foremost brand milk products due to the possible presence of sharp metal objects in the milk, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency reports.

Consumers should not consume Foremost 2% M.F. Partly Skimmed Milk with UPC codes 0 61483 11533 9 or Foremost 3.25% M.F. Homogenized Milk with codes 0 61483 10533 0. The recalls apply to milk sold in four-litre jugs sold on Vancouver Island.

Recalled products should be thrown out or returned to the store where they were purchased.

The recall was triggered by the company, and the CFIA is conducting a food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other products.

No illnesses or injuries have been reported in association with consumption of the products.

Banks urged to shun pipe
The Canadian Press - Jun 12 - BC Biz

Photo: Transmountain.com

A coalition of interest groups is calling on Canada’s six biggest banks and others to back away from providing funding for Kinder Morgan Canada’s controversial Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

The coalition of 20 indigenous and environmental groups says in an open letter that it will use its influence to urge local and foreign governments to divest from banks that ignore its opposition to the pipeline.

It names a total of 28 banks as potential targets for its campaign, including 14 that underwrote the recent initial public offering for Kinder Morgan Canada.

The 14 underwriters included all of Canada’s biggest banks as well as others from the United States, European Union and Japan.

The coalition’s letter urges the banks to decline any additional involvement with Kinder Morgan that would help to finance the Trans Mountain expansion project, particularly a $5.5 billion credit facility the company is seeking.

Among the signatories on the letter is Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, and Grand Chief Serge Simon of the Mohawk Council of Kanesatake in Quebec.

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