August 16, 2019

Struggling Nisga’a community claims it was ‘devastated’ after builder failed to deliver tourist centre

Pair of totem poles at entrance of bridge in Gitwinksihlkw, British Columbia | Shutterstock

The Nisga’a Village of Gitwinksihlkw (NVG) is suing modular building producer Westcoast Outbuildings Inc., its CEO, Geoff Baker, and its CFO, Laura-Lee Normandeau, claiming the community was “devastated” after allegedly being strung along for months about a planned tourist centre that the company failed to produce.

The village, 100 kilometres northwest of Terrace, filed a notice of civil claim in BC Supreme Court on August 6. According to the claim, the village’s name means “place of lizards” and comes from the “Nisga’a oral tradition which states that large lizards lived in the Village up until the last volcanic eruption occurred in Nisga’a territory, approximately 250 years ago.”

“The eruption is said to have left vast lava beds throughout the Gitwinksihlkw and led to the creation of Nisga’a Memorial Lava Bed Park, a popular destination and tourist attraction with a 16-site campground and Visitor Centre displaying Nisga’a artifacts,” the claim states. “In recent years, NVG has been taking steps to develop and invest in the hospitality industry in Gitwinksihlkw. Developing these industries is particularly important to NVG as the community struggles with a number of economic and social issues, including significant overcrowding in village members’ homes.”

As part of the village’s official community plan, the Nisga’a envisioned a tourist centre called “The Welcome House,” which was to include a 20-seat café and a gift shop to “serve as the hub for residents, travelers and visitors to the Nass Valley.” The Welcome House was to be the Nass Valley’s only Indigenous-owned-and-operated restaurant business and a local had already signed on to operate it, the lawsuit says. The village also received more than $500,000 in grants to fund construction.

When the village inked design and production agreements with Westcoast Outbuildings for the modular structure, the company allegedly represented it was able to complete the project in time for National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21, 2019.

“It was particularly important to NVG to have the Welcome House completed by [Indigenous Peoples] Day because of its significance as a day of celebration for Indigenous peoples in Canada,” the claim states. “NVG wanted to give its residents further reason to celebrate their identity, and to be proud of their community and hopeful for its economic prospects.”

But in February 2019, the company allegedly changed its tune and claimed the project needed “significant changes” after Baker discovered design defects after the original project manager left the company.  Months later, the company told the Nisga’a Village that costs for the Welcome House had ballooned despite a fixed-fee contract for production of the building. On July 16, Baker allegedly admitted that Westcoast’s business was failing and its workforce was gone, and that the Nisga’a production payments and deposit had been used to fund the company’s expenses and unrelated projects. 

“NVG’s small community is devastated over the loss of its Welcome house and the $537,211.50 it paid under the Production Agreement,” the claim states.

The Nisga’a Village of Gitwinksihlkw seeks damages for fraudulent misrepresentation, breach of contract, conspiracy and conversion. The allegations have not been tested or proven in court and the defendants had not responded to the claim by press time.


Sober-minded Trudeau tale dodges dirt and sticks to the facts

The political book has been reshaped in the last quarter-century, for better and for worse, by the inner-working explorations of high-profile journalists like Bob Woodward and Michael Wolff.

Their use and misuse of anonymous, contentious, often vexatious sources of information about leaders, lieutenants, decision-making and policy-framing has zoom-lensed us from a faint distance into a close-up intimacy with the political world.

Which is why it is mostly, but not totally, refreshing that Canadians have as a resource the timely release of Trudeau: The Education of a Prime Minister on the eve of the federal election. Journalist John Ivison (full disclosure: a former colleague at the launch of the National Post) has depended for the most part on unconcealed informants as the book’s framework. There are no stoolies of significance, no riveting ratting out and thus – a little disappointingly – no major news flashes as one consumes it.

Instead, the basis of the book is clear research, checked facts and a moderate hand in stating the obvious about the prime minister – that he is brand-obsessed, privileged and not particularly plugged in to the plights of anyone’s struggles. 

Access is always important with political books. Without it you’re largely curating Google results. Woodward seems to be some sort of snake charmer, Wolff manages to befriend the right squealer, but Ivison doesn’t have the same seeming guile of method. He depends on the public record, on his plentiful on-the-record talks over the term with Justin (wife Sophie Grégoire Trudeau would not co-operate) and on some benign and often eye-rolling tire pumping by the prime minister’s past and present aides.

There is little of the gleeful unattributed criticism that besets the genre today, none of the recreated conversations that Woodward and Wolff employ as literary devices, and if there are insiders in the book, they are well hidden.

Which is to say the book is a reliably reported document of Trudeau’s term as prime minister and a rather spartan account of what preceded it. There is no dirt here, no pursuit of salacious rumours, and as a result his critique is a little inarguable.

To wit: the absurdist India trip, the Aga Khan holiday, the backing away on electoral reform, the payment to Omar Khadr, the reckless smear of Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, the debacle of small-business tax reform, the morass of SNC-Lavalin, the black hole of infinite deficits, the precocious culture of apologies, the fumbling of Jody Wilson-Raybould, the miscalculation of China, the hubris of handling Donald Trump and the shortcomings of First Nations reconciliation. Among others. These and more tales are told with sobriety and restraint.

Only in the last chapter does Ivison take the velvet gloves off and tackle one of the critical questions: Is Trudeau his own man, or is he a cog in a machine of others’ making?

No question, the influence of former principal secretary Gerald Butts is immense. But Ivison does not absolve the PM of agency. On each count he chides Trudeau for choosing, whether it was something symbolic like his appropriating wardrobe for India or something substantial like his gang-tackling pressure to keep SNC-Lavalin away from a trial.

Still, the author asserts, Justin had the last word and made the bad call. Repeatedly.

Write him off as a single- termer, though? Not quite. The book is fresh enough as journalism to capture the sense of resilience and rebound in the Liberals as the campaign looms, even if Ivison surmises the party is to the left of Canadians. He credits the impact of tax changes, perhaps all the way to the ballot box, that helped lift many families to better straits. He does not proffer Andrew Scheer and certainly Jagmeet Singh as eminently deserving successors.

But he does question the exercise of Trudeau’s term as one of excessive promises and plentiful failures to deliver. If the book strives to examine the education of a prime minister, there is little evidence of a gifted student applying the hard-earned lessons.

(Trudeau: The Education of a Prime Minister is published by McClelland & Stewart; 368 pages, $32.95.)

Kirk LaPointe is editor-in-chief of Business in Vancouver and vice-president, editorial, of Glacier Media.



Aloha in Vancouver: There’s a new tropical Sunday brunch on offer

Tropical drinks are also featured, including the Punch Drunk cocktail | Photo: @h2restaurant via Instagram

What’s better than Sunday brunch?

Sunday brunch served Hawaiian style.

In homage to the Bayshore’s original Polynesian restaurant, Trader Vic’s, the Westin Bayshore Vancouver has introduced the Sunday Luau Brunch.

On a sunny, August afternoon a musician strummed and plucked away on a ukulele under the shade of a tree on the back lawn of the Bayshore while brunch lovers dined al fresco on the patio of H2 Rotisserie & Bar.

Meanwhile, the tiki-inspired décor and food offerings inside transported us back to the Westin Princeville Ocean Resort, a property we fell in love with during a recent visit to the Hawaiian Island of Kauai.

The Bayshore was once home to the Polenysian-style tiki bar and restaurant Trader Vic’s, which opened in 1961 and was famous for the fact guests could arrive by boat, as well as by land. The restaurant quickly gained popularity for its Polynesian décor, complete with tiki statues, and for its rum-heavy, tropical drinks, including mai tais considered exotic for the time and place.


A post card from Trader Vic’s at the Bayshore circa 1960s.

Sadly, while curiosity about tiki culture thrived during the 1960s, it waned in the 1990s and Trader Vic’s closed in 1996. But for some that vintage tiki spirit never died and in recent years there has been a resurgence of Polynesian-style lounges in Vancouver.

On the day we visited, the Sunday Luau Brunch buffet included pineapple barbecue ribs, huli huli chicken, garlic shrimp, vegan-friendly Beyond Meat ‘Waikiki’ meatballs with soy-ginger glaze, prawn ceviche, a selection of creative salads, a build-your-own açai bowl bar and some of the best slow roasted “pig” we’ve had — and we’ve been to a lot of luaus.


Garlic shrimp at the Sunday Luau Brunch at the Bayshore. Photo Sandra Thomas

For dessert, I tried the tropical-shaped sugar cookies and banana spring rolls and immediately felt the spirit of Aloha.

The buffet offerings rotate weekly and for those not as excited about Hawaiian food as I am, H2 Rotisserie & Bar has kept items from its classic brunch menu, including eggs benedict. Guest can also order from an ala carte brunch menu.

Of course, tropical drinks are also featured, including the Punch Drunk cocktail, featuring three types of rum, peach schnapps, pomegranate syrup and pineapple and orange juices.

#F4F4F4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> 
#F4F4F4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> 
#F4F4F4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> 
#F4F4F4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> 
#F4F4F4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> 
#F4F4F4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> 
#F4F4F4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> 
#f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg)"> 
#F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> 
#F4F4F4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> 
#F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> 

Not just a pretty face, the Punch Drunk cocktail is the jack of all trades. This summer sip features , , , peach schnapps, pomegranate syrup, pineapple juice, & orange juice. ⁠ ⁠ ____⁠ ⁠ ⁠

A post shared by H2 Rotisserie & Bar (@h2restaurant) on

Our seats overlooked the pool at the Bayshore and, for a brief moment, we were transported back to Kauai — without the pricy airfare.

Vancouver Courier


Vancouver’s massive Aurora Winter Festival expanding, moving venues for 2019

Aurora Winter Festival Vancouver | Facebook

There’s going to be more merry this Christmas as Vancouver’s Aurora Winter Festival reveals a venue change and a “massive expansion” for 2019.

The 15-acre North Pole-inspired fest will be largest event of its kind in Western Canada when it shifts to the PNE grounds for its festive run, set for November 22, 2019 through January 5, 2020.

Previously held in its inaugural year at Concord Pacific, the follow-up fest promises to be four times larger than last year.

Expanded programming includes more activities, an increased ice skating surface, a longer tube park and double the number of rides and games.

In addition to the ice skating and tube park, Aurora Winter Festival also features giant sculptures, animated sets, brilliant light displays, and a number of fun characters, as well as a light tunnel showcasing the Aurora Borealis, a story-time theatre with Santa, an entertainment tent with live music, a variety of food trucks, and a market with 40 holiday-inspired vendors.

“We are thrilled with the new venue and the partnership with the PNE. The park setting lends itself perfectly to the winter wonderland that we’re creating,” said Scott Emslie, Co-Founder of the Aurora Winter Festival. “This expansion allows us to take the festival to a whole new level.”

Emslie says the event’s popularity in 2018 led to large crowds overwhelming the venue, which prompted the move to the PNE grounds.

Tickets cost $12.99-17.99, and general admission pre-sales begin as early as Thursday, September 26th at 10 a.m. for those who like to get a handle on holiday fun before the Thanksgiving table is even set.

Aurora Winter Festival – Vancouver

When: Nov. 22, 2019-Jan. 5, 2020
Where: PNE Grounds – 2901 East Hastings Street, Vancouver
Cost: $12.99-17.99

Vancouver Is Awesome


Check out this amazing $10.9m B.C. lakefront mansion (PHOTOS)

This Kelowna lakeside estate sits on 2.25 acres and has been listed for $10,988,000 | Photo: Listing agent Richard Deacon

A perfect summer’s day could involve touring B.C.’s best wineries and cooling off with a dip in a lakefront infinity pool – and the next lucky owner of this recently listed house will be able to do both.

Located on a two-acre lakefront lot in Kelowna’s Sheerwater community, north of the city, this modern mansion has been listed for $10,988,000. The home was built in 2014 and has won both Tommie and Georgie Awards for its construction and striking architecture.

It has 11,496 square feet of ultra-prime interior living space, with five bedrooms, seven full bathrooms and two half bathrooms.

The massive great room with vaulted ceilings makes the most of the west-facing lake views, with the kitchen on an elevated level. Flowing off the gourmet kitchen, which has twin islands, is a family/media room. The house also boasts a gym, spa/treatment spaces and yoga/massage area with a separate entrance.

Architectural highlights include vast floor-to-ceiling windows, knife-edge detailing in the butterfly roofline, vaulted ceilings in the master bedroom (as well as the great room), floating walls, an art-gallery-style curved staircase, a glass staircase with sculptural rock water feature, and a huge marble slab used as a dividing wall in the master ensuite. The home is also kitted out with smart automation technology.

Check out more photos of this luxurious listing, below, and scroll down for a YouTube video tour to see more.


The sprawling house from above, revealing its landscaped terraces. Listing agent: Richard Deacon


The lakefront facade of this home is architecturally spectacular. Listing agent: Richard Deacon


The great room has vaulted ceilings and massive windows to make the most of those epic lake views. Listing agent: Richard Deacon


The huge master bedroom has vaulted ceilings like the great room. Listing agent: Richard Deacon


The home has a gym with an inspiring view. Listing agent: Richard Deacon


The home’s infinity pool stretches out as if merging with the lake, while glass balustrades keep the view clear. Listing agent: Richard Deacon


The home comes with its own private dock in Lake Okanagan, just north of Kelowna. Listing agent: Richard Deacon

Glacier Media Real Estate


What are we reading? August 15, 2019


Each week, BIV staff will share with you some of the interesting stories we have found from around the web.


Mark Falkenberg, deputy managing editor:

Tidy summary of why the clock is running out fast on U.S. economic growth, and how Trump’s China tariffs are greasing the gears of a big recession. – Daily Kos


A new revelation about the death of Jeffrey Epstein should kick conspiracy theories into double overdrive. Epstein, who was found hanging in his cell in a Manhattan prison last Saturday, had broken bones in his neck that are “typically more consistent with death by homicidal strangulation than by suicidal hanging.” – Talking Points Memo


Glen Korstrom, reporter:

This article is a few years old but I found it fascinating. It’s from the free language-training website Duolingo, which claims to have 120 million users around the world who are learning 19 different languages. This article uses data from those users to determine which languages people study in different countries. The first and second most popular languages are then mapped out in colours. English is understandably the most studied language around the world and the article shows that graphically while adding insight on what language is next across national boundaries around the globe. – Duolingo


This U.N. Refugee Agency review of 2018 casts a bleak picture of the way millions around the world live, and where. Packed with stats, it reveals things such as that Canada accepted 28,100 of the 92,400 refugees who were resettled in 25 countries in 2018 – the most in the world. – UNHCR


The business of running a restaurant is changing with the surge in delivery orders. This lengthy article clarifies the difference between virtual restaurants and ghost kitchens and documents the phenomenon. – New York Times


Nelson Bennett, reporter:

Asking if a global recession is just around the corner is a bit like asking if it will eventually rain. Business cycles are, well, cyclical, and recessions are inevitable. “We are always headed towards a recession, sometime,” says Joe Childey in the Financial Post. “A more interesting question than when it will occur might be how it will play out.” – Financial Post


Russia is developing a nuclear-powered missile that could fly pretty much indefinitely at super-sonic speeds and be very difficult, if not impossible, to intercept.Thank goodness it keeps crashing, because a weapon like this is truly terrifying. Here’s a good explainer piece on how nuclear powered missiles would work and why we really, really don’t want them to work. – Firstpost


Hayley Woodin, reporter:

Last month, the new owner of Guatemala’s controversial Escobal silver mining project admitted that the mine’s former owner had infringed the human rights of Guatemalan protestors. Pan American Silver settled the dispute privately after years of court challenges between plaintiffs and Tahoe Resources, which it acquired earlier this year. The settlement and public apology were unprecedented. But on these issues, “gaping holes” in Canadian law cannot be ignored, and without court cases, lawyer Hassan Ahmad writes that Canadian companies may still get away with crimes committed abroad. – The Conversation