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Forest Practices Board Releases Annual Report for 2006

January 10, 2007

VICTORIA - The Forest Practices Board has released its annual report for 2005/2006. The annual report details the key findings and topics the board has examined during the past fiscal year. The annual report gives the public an idea of the diversity of issues brought to the board through random audits, investigations of public complaints, special projects, and administrative appeals. The board's primary role is to assess how well forest licensees and government agencies are complying with legislation on the ground. The annual report also includes projects and new initiatives that will ensure that the board will be ready when the Forest and Range Practices Act is fully implemented in 2007-2008. The report is available on the board's website at www.fpb.gov.bc.ca, or by contacting the board at 1-800-994-5899.


Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General
HEAVY SNOW IN PEACE REGION STRANDS MOTORISTS
January 10, 2007

VICTORIA - Heavy snow and gusting winds overnight are affecting travel on roads in the North East of British Columbia, including Braden Road between the Hart Highway and the Alaska Highway near Dawson Creek stranding a number of motorists on that road. Emergency crews, RCMP and highway maintenance crews are currently working to reach motorists in the area. Those individuals stranded by the snow should remain in their vehicles until emergency crews can reach them and do the following: * Periodically run your vehicle to stay warm. * Keep a window slightly open to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. * If you have a cell phone, call 911 or 1 800-461-9111 to let personnel know where you are, how many people are with you and what your situation is. RCMP and local road maintenance crews are advising the travelling public in the area to stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary. For further information on road conditions visit www.drivebc.ca.


Ministry of Small Business and Revenue

NEW CONSTRUCTION SETS $19.5-BILLION RECORD

Jan. 9, 2007

VICTORIA - New construction and development throughout British Columbia has hit a record assessed value of $19.5 billion, up 55 per cent from a year ago, Rick Thorpe, Minister of Small Business and Revenue and Minister responsible for BC Assessment, announced today. "We've just finished a year in which the assessed value of new construction reached nearly four times what it was in 2001," said Thorpe. "Record construction, small-business job creation and retail sales are just a few indicators of British Columbia's booming economy, which is benefiting every region of our province." Regional gains in the value of new construction and development, by BC Assessment area offices, are as follows: * Capital (Greater Victoria and Southern Gulf Islands): $1.77 billion on the 2007 assessment roll, up 93 per cent from the value of new construction and development shown on the 2006 assessment roll. * Central and Northern Vancouver Island: $1.43 billion, up 27.6 per cent. * Fraser Valley: $2.37 billion, up 40.5 per cent. * Kamloops Region: $513 million, up 139.4 per cent. * Kootenays (including Nelson, Trail and Cranbrook): $536 million, up 49.7 per cent. * North Fraser (including Burnaby and Coquitlam): $2.13 billion, up 48.6 per cent. * North Shore/Squamish: $1.19 billion, up 28.1 per cent. * Okanagan (including Vernon, Penticton, Kelowna): $2.66 billion, up 56.2 per cent. * Peace River: $317 million, up 6.4 per cent. * Prince George: $146 million, up 57.9 per cent. * South Fraser (Surrey, White Rock, Richmond, Delta): $3.48 billion, up 95 per cent. * Vancouver: $2.69 billion, up 49 per cent. BC Assessment calculated the most recent totals in completing its assessment roll for 2007. The new record smashes the $12.4 billion in new construction on the 2006 assessment roll and represents more than 3.6 times the $5.3 billion in new construction on the 2001 roll. "It's been another phenomenal year for builders and tradespeople in every facet of construction and in every region of the province," said Philip Hochstein, executive vice president of the Independent Contractors and Businesses of British Columbia. "British Columbia is increasingly attractive to investors, and the strong economy is encouraging people to enter or move up in the real estate market - all of which is creating unprecedented opportunities in residential construction," said M.J. Whitemarsh, CEO of the Canadian Home Builders' Association of British Columbia. The total value of British Columbia property has also hit a record high of $808 billion, according to the 2007 assessment roll. This represents a rise of 23 per cent from $658 billion in 2006. Between 1997 and 2001, British Columbia's total roll value hovered between $396 billion and $411 billion. On Jan. 2, BC Assessment began sending 2007 assessment notices to more than 1.78 million British Columbia property owners provincewide. More information about BC Assessment and the 2007 roll, including area office news releases detailing growth in individual communities, is available at www.bcassessment.ca online.


Ministry of Economic Development

ALBERTA AGREEMENT WILL HAVE POSITIVE EFFECT ON ECONOMY

Jan. 4, 2007

VICTORIA - The Province has released a Conference Board report on the impact of the B.C./Alberta Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) on B.C.'s economy. The provincial government commissioned the report before signing on to the agreement, which was finalized at a joint B.C.-Alberta cabinet meeting in April of 2006. The 46-page report, entitled An Impact Assessment of the B.C./Alberta Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement, concludes that: "Overall, this agreement has the potential to make a real difference in B.C.'s economic performance. After all the net benefits are realized, the TILMA has the potential to add $4.8 billion to real GDP and create 78,000 new jobs in the province." The report highlighted a number of advantages B.C.'s economy will gain from TILMA's full implementation. Specifically, a more open economy will: * Attract new business and investment as it will create the second-largest market in Canada; * Allow B.C. firms operating in the goods and services-producing sector to benefit from better access to the Alberta market, creating new business and investment opportunities; * Open up the market for B.C.'s primary and agricultural sectors by streamlining regulations and standards; * Enhance the position of B.C.'s strong financial services sector; * Result in a more efficient allocation of resources between the two provinces, which in turn will lead to higher incomes due to productivity advancements; and * Create more opportunities for workers through the reconciliation of credentials. The report also found that all regions of the Province will benefit from implementation of the proposed agreement: especially the northeast, Lower Mainland and southwest regions. An Impact Assessment of the B.C./Alberta Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement is available from the Ministry of Economic Development web site: www.gov.bc.ca/ecdev


Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General Office of the Fire Commissioner B.C. Coroners Service

SAFETY FIRST CAN PREVENT NEEDLESS DEATHS

Jan. 3, 2007

VICTORIA - Fifteen British Columbians needlessly lost their lives due to smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning in 2006, a number that needs to be reduced in the New Year, said Minister of Public Safety John Les. "Sustained public education is the key to preventing these kinds of accidental deaths," said Les, who is responsible for the Office of the Fire Commissioner and B.C. Coroners Service. "It's not enough to talk about safety tips and alarms during the holidays when severe weather often causes people to use alternate sources of heat and energy. "The proper use of smoke and CO detectors as well as generators is something we should practice year round to ensure not just our personal safety but that of family and neighbours." British Columbians are advised to: * Ensure their home is equipped with fully functioning smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Batteries should be changed every six months and tested regularly. * Portable camp stoves, barbeque grills or generators should never be used indoors, even if ventilation is provided. These devices deplete oxygen and produce large amounts of CO. * Do not use the oven to heat a room. * Candles are a serious fire hazard and are not recommended as an emergency lighting source. Light sticks, flashlights and flameless battery operated candles are recommended. "It takes the average home under five minutes to become engulfed in flames, said Fire Commissioner David Hodgins. "Far too often, when people lose their lives in a house fire it was because the home did not have a working smoke alarm." "Death by smoke inhalation occurs within six to eight minutes, high-level CO poisoning in one to three minutes," added Chief Coroner Terry Smith. "In the case of CO, early warning via a detector is the key to survival." Smoke inhalation and CO poisoning pose serious health problems in acute and long-term exposure. There were 15 fatal house fires in B.C. in 2006. The Office of the Fire Commissioner, BC Coroners Service and the Provincial Emergency Program will continue to co-ordinate efforts with partner agencies and municipal government to ensure the public has access to safety information and resources. For additional safety tips and information, visit: Office of the Fire Commissioner: www.pssg.gov.bc.ca/firecom BC Coroner's Service: www.pssg.gov.bc.ca/coroners/index.htm Provincial Emergency Program (PEP): www.pep.bc.ca/index.html


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