Friday, May 19, 2023 - Why does Alberta burn first?

BC is hotter, so why do wildfires ravage its colder cousin first?

Friday, May 19, 2023 | 🌤 High 29C | Forecast

Good morning!

About two weeks ago I asked you if you were cheering for the Toronto Maple Leafs in the NHL playoffs. I was bracing myself for a flood of messages from angry Leaf fans after I admitted I was hoping they would lose. I was spared! But then I realized why after I looked at the poll results: most of you don’t even watch hockey! (I had a good laugh at that.)

These intros are a great way for you to get to know us because oftentimes we miss getting to know you. So it’s great to feel that I’m getting to know you a little bit better through these short surveys. Outside of the polls we enjoy reading all the comments we get from you (even if we can’t always respond to every one).

Thanks to some of our earliest Insider members: Susan, Sean, and Julie. Learn about The Current’s membership program here.

Joti Grewal

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NEWS

Why Alberta has spring fires and BC has summer blazes

The Boundary Lake wildfire broke out near Fort St. John earlier this month. | BC Wildfire Service

As Northern British Columbia and Alberta burn, southern BC has largely been spared flames so far.

It might seem counterintuitive that fires start earlier in the west’s colder climates, but it’s actually fairly common. That’s because geography and biology conspire to make southern BC relatively fire resistant in spring, even as places further north begin to burn.

Related story

Need to know

✈ WestJet and its pilots agreed to a contract last night just before a strike was to start; the contract has not yet been ratified [Global]

💧 The latest river forecast for the Fraser River expects the water to rise significantly during the May long weekend; check the latest forecast here; a high streamflow advisory is still in effective [BC River Forecast Centre]

👮🏻‍♂️ The officer who shot and killed the man on a shooting spree in Langley last July should be commended for his actions, the police watchdog reported [IIO]; The officer was one who responded to multiple shootings in Langley that prompted the province to issue an emergency alert; here’s a breakdown of what happened that day [FVC]

🚫 Flooding has closed the parking lot at Matsqui Trail Regional Park [City of Abbotsford]

🔥 Firefighters were called to a blaze last night north of Harrison Hot Springs near Hicks Lake [Agassiz-Harrison Observer]

🎉 A Langley couple’s family “didn’t believe” the news that the couple had won the lottery [Daily Hive]

✈️ Nearly 100 WestJet flights were cancelled Thursday as the company prepares for a pilot strike; Vancouver and Abbotsford airports are asking WestJet and Swoop passengers to check their flight status [Vancouver Sun]

🆘 A Langley family is pleading for information about a 36-year-old man who was last seen in Vancouver three weeks ago [City News]

🐶 Harrison council rejected a proposal for a temporary dog park [Agassiz Harrison Observer]

⚖️ An Abbotsford man who police believe is a public safety risk pled guilty to two charges in connection to a 2020 shooting [Abbotsford News]

👮🏻‍♀️ A 70-year-old Chilliwack woman last seen at a Fraser Health facility has been missing for five days [Chilliwack Progress]

🌳 Scientists are debating the “wood wide web” and how forests communicate and share resources [The Tyee]

⚖️ A Chilliwack pastor convicted of possessing child pornography had his appeal dismissed by a BC court [Chilliwack Progress]

🚔 A man who snatched an Abbotsford officer’s stun gun was sent to prison for 30 days [Abbotsford News]

📸 Current Cam: We forgot to share the results of Current Cam in Thursday’s newsletter! Congrats to Denise for correctly identifying the hydro box outside of the Sardis Library. Want to try and stump the Current Community with your own trivia photo? Send us your photos!

🛍️ M&M Food Market is undertaking an aggressive coast-to-coast expansion, wanting you to grow alongside with them. Learn more about opening a franchise in Abbotsford or Mission.*

⛰️ Whistler is more than just a winter destination. Hike, bike, ski, and more at Whistler's famously scenic multi-sport playground this spring. Learn more.*

*Sponsored Listing

SPONSORED BY IGNITE THEATRE

Ignite Theatre celebrates its 10th season!

Ignite Theatre is gearing up to mark its 10th anniversary in grand style with a spectacular production of Disney’s beloved musical, Beauty and the Beast. This highly anticipated production is set to captivate audiences with stunning visuals, enchanting music, and a heartwarming story that has charmed audiences for decades.

The Agenda

The BC government helped the Langley School District purchase property on 201 Street and 82 Avenue for a future school in 2019. | Google

New Langley elementary school set to open in 2025

A much-needed new elementary school is coming to Langley’s bustling Willoughby neighbourhood.

Members of the NDP government were in Langley Thursday to announce the construction of a new 555-seat elementary school. The site will also offer child care, but it's unclear how many spaces will be available. The province is providing the Langley School District with $51.8 million for construction, which is scheduled to begin in spring 2024. The school is expected to welcome kids by the fall of 2025. Critics warn many more schools will be needed.

The province has previously announced this project: in 2019, the BC government provided $8.3 million to the district to buy land on the corner of 82 Avenue and 201 Street. The district contributed $1.3 million to the purchase price.

Seismic upgrades are complete at Langley’s Vanguard Secondary and Shortreed Community Elementary schools, officials said.

Upgrades coming for Chilliwack airport

The Chilliwack airport is getting a longer runway and new lighting.

The small airport will see 340 metres added to the runway, according to documents online. The improvements will mean that larger planes, including larger emergency response, firefighting, and medevac vehicles, will be able to land on the runway. The 32-year-old lighting system on the runway, which the city called “almost obsolete,” will also be replaced.

The work is estimated to cost about $120,000 and to be finished by November.

Chilliwack MLA Dan Coulter will join airport officials Friday morning for an announcement.

Poll results: Many readers aren’t prepared for an emergency

Many Current readers aren’t prepared for an emergency.

Earlier this week we asked if the recurring messages from the province about preparing for an emergency has motivated readers to create an emergency plan. Roughly 330 readers responded and nearly half said they have thought about it, but then forget to follow through. Meanwhile, 115 of you said you’ve been prepared for as long as you can remember. Few said they still plan to create an emergency strategy, and even less said they just recently prepared.

On Thursday, in a poll inspired by Mission Mayor Paul Horn, we asked readers how they pronounce “Freshet?” Nearly three-quarters said they pronounce it “fres-het” and not “fresh-hit.” This is how Merriam-Webster says to pronounce it (click the icon beside the pronunciation key to hear).

Falcon promises to break with BC Liberal past & unmuzzle health care workers

In what would be a departure from the policies of recent NDP and BC Liberal governments, opposition leader Kevin Falcon says he would tell health authorities to let employees speak freely about the state of care in the hospitals they work in.

Recent weeks have seen increasing attention on the capacity of the Lower Mainland’s hospitals to care for patients who need help. Those issues date back more than a decade in the Fraser Valley but health care workers—particularly nurses—have long been prohibited from speaking independently to the media about the state of their facilities.

In response to a question by Current editor Tyler Olsen on Twitter, Falcon, the leader of the BC United Party—the new name of the BC Liberals—said unequivocally that a government he led would tell health authorities that workers should be allowed to speak freely to the media. That position marks a departure from policies under previous BC Liberal governments that Falcon served in.

Nurses, who are direct health authority employees, have long been told that they aren’t allowed to speak to reporters about the quality of care in their facilities. Current editor Tyler Olsen regularly encountered such roadblocks while reporting on capacity problems at Abbotsford Regional Hospital in the mid-2010s while the BC Liberals were in power.

Things to do

💐 Spring festival: The Chilliwack School of Performing Arts is throwing its spring festival until Saturday, featuring student performances of different classic plays from the Cat in the Hat to Shrek the Musical.

➡️ Jurassic Quest: Jurassic Quest, an adventure experience featuring life-size animatronic dinosaurs, will be at the Abbotsford Tradex from Friday to Monday.

🎭️ Theatre: Jeeves Intervenes, a production from Gallery 7 in Abbotsford, will be playing until May 27. Tickets online. 

🛶 Paddle the Slough: Friends of the Camp/Hope Sloughs are hosting their 2023 Paddle the Slough Challenge until June 18. Participants are encouraged to travel the sloughs, snap pictures or take video, and enter them for a chance to win prizes. Register online. Maps will be provided.

🎹 The Matinee: Award-winning Vancouver folk band The Matinee will play at the Bez Arts Hub in Langley Friday at 7pm. In-person or live stream tickets online. 

🎻 Barn Dance: The Central Fraser Valley Fiddlers are hosting an old time barn dance Saturday at 1pm to celebrate their 50th anniversary.

🚜 Small engine show: The Atchelitz Threshermen’s Association is holding its annual small engines show in Chilliwack this weekend. Explore displays of antique engines, watch live demonstrations, and see an antique tractor pull.

🎙️ Concert: The Harrison Festival Society is hosting “Rumours Reimagined,” a concert at the Harrison Memorial Hall Saturday at 7:30pm. It will feature the songs from the Fleetwood Mac album Rumours, reinterpreted by musicians from Vancouver and the Fraser Valley.

🧀 Cheese party: Farm House Cheeses in Agassiz is hosting a 20th anniversary celebration on Saturday from 10am to 5pm with samples, giveaways, and new cheeses to try.

🍺 Beer festival: Brewhalla, Langley’s annual beer and music festival, will feature more than 30 craft beverage makers and local musicians in the Fort Langley Park Saturday noon to 6pm. Tickets online.

➡️ Kids show: Blippi the Wonderful, an educational children’s entertainer, will be at the Abbotsford Centre on Sunday at 1pm. Tickets online.

🌸 May Day Bradner: Celebrate Bradner May Day in Abbotsford on Monday with a parade, fair, car show and market. Details online. 

🌺 May Day Fort Langley: The Fort Langley Lions Club is hosting a May Day parade Monday followed by a market and live music. Details online. 

🐐 Goat yoga: Take a yoga class with cute goats on Monday from 10:30am to noon in Langley. Tickets online.

Find more events in our members-only weekly calendar.

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Tyler Olsen: How tech can allow reporters and members of the public to take the initiative and monitor local–and non-local–wildfires

It feels like summer in BC and, on cue, fire and smoke have returned to the province.

So today, I want to share some of the best ways to keep track of just where the flames are and where they might be headed.

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