Blocked out: Saanich resident can’t join Block Watch
A Saanich father who’s been the target of multiple cases of vandalism is wondering why he’s unable to join the Block Watch program in his neighbourhood.
Eugene Pan and family reside on Kent Street off Carey Road where they’ve been the victim of multiple acts of property vandalism this year.
“We don’t feel safe,” Pan said. “I went to a Block Watch introductory meeting in April then applied to join. I was told the [neighbourhood] captain would get back to me, but we never heard from anyone. This is like a private club, I don’t get how they can run something like this?”
The idea to join Block Watch started with ongoing cases of property vandalism outside the Pans’ Kent Street home.
Pan’s security camera recorded several incidents, including four separate acts of vandalism just after midnight on March 12. It began with what seemed like a random act as someone tore a low-hanging motion-sensor light off his driveway entrance and then smashed the mirror of his car. Then what looks like the same person returns several times to remove another security light and then runs something sharp along the side of Pan’s car, effectively “keying” it from back to front.
Then on May 15, Pan’s other family vehicle was damaged. This time, he got it fixed and on Aug. 1, it was damaged again, a single scratch once again running along the length of the driver’s side.
Spokesperson Sgt. Jereme Leslie said Saanich Police confirmed there is an existing Block Watch Group for Kent Street.
“It appears the group didn’t wish for this particular neighbour to join,” Leslie said. “We attempted to mediate this situation to try to bring harmony to the neighbourhood, however, this was not successful.”
Educator killed in motorcycle crash
A 58-year-old man from North Saanich died in a collision.
The man was riding a motorcycle when it collided with a truck near the intersection of Boleskine Road and Whittier Avenue in Saanich.
Rodger Hargreaves was later identified as the victim of the crash. Hargreaves was an instructor in the trades in both the Saanich and Sooke school districts, having started at Parkland Secondary School when he first moved to the area. For the last four years, Hargreaves was a career co-ordinator for the Sooke School District and is being remembered as a popular instructor.
“Rodger was full of positivity,” said Sooke School District superintendent Jim Cambridge. “Whenever he walked into a room, spirits were lifted. He was really well-liked.”
For the last two years, Cambridge said Hargreaves has been seconded to Camosun College, where he had been their transition co-ordinator, working with high school students entering trades courses at the college.
Chicken coops can cause rat problems, but only for irresponsible owners
Which came first: the chicken or the rat? That’s what neighbours living on urban streets with chicken coops want to know.
Chickens have been living in Greater Victoria for years. Victoria bylaws don’t currently restrict the number of hens, provided the eggs are for personal use only and the birds are housed correctly. Roosters are not permitted.
But rats have been in Victoria even longer, so the presence of chickens can’t be blamed for their existence. Chicken coops, however, can provide an excellent source of rat food.
“(Rats) are amazing animals that aren’t to be underestimated at all,” said Kurtis Brown of Victoria Pest Control. “If we’re not storing food properly … we are certainly inviting rats.”
Any stable food source can attract rats.
There are two species of rats in Victoria: the “brown” rat and the “roof” rat. Brown rats’ diet mainly consists of grains, which also happens to be chickens’ bread and butter. Chicken feed, if unattended, will feed a rat family, or even a whole colony.
And it’s not just the feed, either. Roof rats are omnivorous and will eat anything, including chicken eggs, baby chicks, and chicken manure. Rats are cautious, but clever problem-solvers. If it’s possible to get into the coop, they will figure it out.
“Sanitation is pest control,” he said. “If there’s no food, there’s no rats. It’s as simple as that.”
Chef struck by car on Gorge Road dies in hospital
Sizzling Tandoor chef Khushal Rana, 31, who was struck by a vehicle Oct. 18 as he walked along Gorge Road, died as a result of his injuries.
Police are still investigating the incident where a 25-year-old Saanich woman was travelling east on Gorge Road West, when her 2003 Chevrolet Suburban mounted the sidewalk and struck him.
Restaurant general manager Kirn Bawa, who has been spearheaded fundraising efforts through a GoFundMe page, confirmed the news Sunday morning on the site, which has so far raised more than $54,000 for Rana’s family. He leaves a wife, a four-year-old son and unborn twins.
“It’s with heavy hearts and regret that we inform our community that Khushal Singh Rana unfortunately succumbed to his injuries yesterday evening after fighting a strong fight over the past few days,” Bawa wrote on GoFundMe. “Despite everyone’s prayers and the phenomenal efforts of the medical team at VGH, he unfortunately had to leave us far too soon.”
The plan is to keep the GoFundMe page running, Bawa wrote, “as his wife and children will need our help now more than ever.”
Rana’s wife Meena Dev gave birth to twin boys Nov. 20 in Victoria General Hospital.
Car audio installer silenced for now
The stretch of West Saanich Rd. between Wallace Dr. and Keating Cross Rd. is bucolic, the winding forest route dotted with signs pointing to the famous Butchart Gardens. But Dustin Hamilton will have to enjoy this scene by foot, because the sound of his stereo resulted in a driving prohibition in that area, and a blanket ban on operating a car stereo while in Central Saanich.
Hamilton, 24, said he has no criminal history until this point, and that the trouble started when someone followed his PT Cruiser from Brentwood to Saanichton over the summer.
“So, here I am, driving, doing my thing, girlfriend back and forth to work, and then we get this one retired guy in Brentwood or whatever who just doesn’t like it, and he followed me to basically the bank and then it all started going from there.”
He was then boxed in at an RBC parking lot on Aug. 13 and that’s where police said a physical altercation occurred.
After that incident, Hamilton received charges for the excessive noise, as well as an assault charge for the altercation. This was on top of around 17 complaints from neighbours over the summer.
Cpl. Dan Cottingham of the Central Saanich Police said he could not comment on the specifics of that incident as it is before the courts, but he did say that officers have contacted him repeatedly since May to turn it down.
“His attitude towards the police warnings was quite defiant, according to members, so he knew what was at stake,” said Cottingham.
Teachers’ association files grievance over carpet cleaning cutbacks
Custodians in SD61 were told in October to cut back on vacuuming area rugs in elementary school classrooms. In many schools the area rugs were being vacuumed every day, but the new order from the Director of Facilities stated that carpets in Kindergarten (K) and Grade 1 classes should be vacuumed only twice a week and Grade 2 – 5 carpets should not be vacuumed at all.
Custodians reported the change to teachers, who then expressed health and safety concerns to Jason Gammon, the president of the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association (GVTA).
“As a primary teacher, you use the carpet a lot. That is an area where you teach,” says Gammon. “It’s like the kids’ desks. They sit on the carpet, you read to them, you do math. It’s not just a carpet, it’s a teaching area. It’s vital.”
Carolyn Howe, as the GVTA Health & Safety Officer, filed a grievance under article D26 of the Greater Victoria School District’s collective agreement which relates to Health and Safety.
Mark Walsh, secretary-treasurer of SD61, says a review of the rug cleaning schedule is underway.
“This year we have looked at creating standard cleaning runs at all of our schools,” says Walsh. “As a district, we got rid of rugs in schools about 15 to 20 years ago so the cleaning of them wasn’t in our standard cleaning run. Then teachers started bringing them in with an expectation that they would get cleaned. So part of our review was looking at enforcing the practice that used to exist (no carpet cleaning). We thought we would actually expand service, so cover Grade 1, cover some specialty classrooms, in addition to K.”
Feedback was quick to follow.
“Since we’ve done that we have discovered that there was far more expectation of carpet cleaning in some of our spaces and so we are actually reviewing right now,” says Walsh. “That concept of less-than-daily cleaning for K classes is a big concern for folks so we are reviewing that right now.”
The review will include: finding out exactly how many rugs are in use; how often they have been getting cleaned in each school; and what the requirements are for the educational program based on the curriculum for each grade level.
Cedar Hill teacher adds new math resource for Greater Victoria schools
Nikki Lineham has developed a new way of teaching math. And now the Cedar Hill middle school teacher is watching her idea multiply across the Greater Victoria School District.
Lineham has been working for the past five years on the development of Educating Now, a system that takes the text-driven lesson plans teachers have used for decades and puts it into a video format that includes hints on the language and methods that have the greatest impact on students.
She says the technological changes happening across the globe means simply learning procedures and memorizing information is no longer enough.
“They need to understand how it works so they can apply it to novel situations,” said the Saanich resident, adding our learning tools are no longer limited to just pen and paper.
“We need them to be thinkers and problem solvers and to actually understand and be able to create and actually be like mathematicians and not be like calculators, because we have calculators.”
School District 61 has now purchased a site licence for Educating Now to bring Lineham’s method to schools across Greater Victoria. The collaborative initiative with the Greater Victoria Teachers Association was part of an investment of more than $500,000 by the school district in numeracy and science resources.
“Education assistants, teachers and administrators across the district now have access to the videos and resources,” said Lineham.
It’s a system that Lineham has been using herself for the past 10 years – taking a more visual and hands-on approach to solving math problems.
“It’s because of the way our brain learns things. In order for something to go into long-term memory it needs to be meaningful, which means there needs to be some form of engagement. As soon as you gets kids more active and get their hands on things, they’re immediately more engaged. But more importantly they have to understand it.”
Linehan uses the example of how people will often talk about how they don’t understand math.
“It’s a bragging right in our culture. No one brags about being illiterate.”
And that is something she is committed to changing.
“I feel like numeracy is the ugly second cousin to literacy, it never gets any attention,” she said. “My mission in life is to change the way we teach, talk and think about mathematics, so that it’s accessible for all people.”