TOFINO, B.C. – Long-time residents of Vancouver Island’s west coast admit to being awestruck by the latest storm that has prompted an extreme wave hazard advisory for the region, including Pacific Rim National Park, Tofino and Ucluelet.The advisory was issued Thursday as waves up to nine metres high pounded several popular beaches at the same time as midday high tides.“You’d see people shoulder to shoulder yesterday on the beach that have lived here for 30 years or have been here for 30 minutes, and all of them were … taken aback and in awe,” said Shane Richards, the general manager of the Pacific Sands Beach Resort on Cox Bay near Tofino.“You could feel it, standing 20 feet back from the shoreline, you could feel the waves breaking,” he said, adding the storm was so powerful that waves were breaking at least two kilometres offshore.The swells are powerful enough to pick up and hurl huge logs and the advisory from the District of Tofino said rollers were also breaking much higher than usual, flooding beaches and shorelines.“We’ll have our fair share of clean up to do,” Richards predicted.“If I was to guess, I would say there are probably 80 to 90 substantially sized logs on our property that weren’t here yesterday,” he said, describing waves powerful enough to toss one-tonne logs over the retaining wall that protects the resort’s property.A bulletin from Parks Canada, which administers the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, says some beaches and parking lots within the reserve may have to be closed for safety reasons. The warning will remain in effect until Saturday.Weather warnings for the region have been dropped but Environment Canada says winds of up to 60 kilometres per hour are forecast Friday, rising to 80 kilometres by Saturday.The District of Ucluelet also closed beaches and the popular Wild Pacific Trail and said staff would assess conditions on Friday.“Beaches, shorelines, docks and marinas, and coastal waters should be avoided during this major storm event,” the district said in a release.Storm watchers are advised to use safe vantage points including two in Pacific Rim National Park and one at Amphitrite Point, the most southerly tip of the Ucluelet Peninsula.
WINNIPEG – Manitoba’s children’s advocate will gain new powers next week to work on behalf of more young people and to make more of her findings public.The Progressive Conservative government says portions of a law passed last year are to take effect March 15.The changes expand the role of Daphne Penrose beyond child welfare to examine youth services in areas such as education, health and justice.Another change will allow her to publicly release findings from her investigations into the deaths of children in government care.The additional powers were recommended in 2013 by the inquiry into the death of Phoenix Sinclair, a five-year-old girl who was beaten to death by her mother and mother’s boyfriend after social workers closed her file.The advocate’s office is currently finishing a review into the death of Tina Fontaine, whose body was found in a Winnipeg river in 2014 after she had run away from a hotel where social workers had placed her.“This (change) will ensure greater public accountability for a range of key public services that protect Manitoba’s most vulnerable children and youth, and aim to make those services more effective and responsive,” Families Minister Scott Fielding said Tuesday in a written statement.The children’s advocate is an independent office of the legislature that has been forbidden from publicly releasing reports into child deaths. The advocate releases general findings in annual reports and appears every year before a legislature committee.