Kamloops lawyer fined $9,000 for failing to pay government remittances in full, on time

Local lawyer fined $9,000

The Law Society of British Columbia has issued a $9,000 fine to a Kamloops lawyer after he failed to pay his government remittances in full and on time in 2017 and 2018.

According to the hearing panel's decision, James Webber of Webber Law racked up around $142,870.30 in arrears over the two years. 

The document shows the 81-year-old collected GST from his clients but didn't remit the funds and interest due to Canada Revenue Agency (10,870.30). The same happened for employee payroll source deductions (132,000).

The society says Webber moved to a new office in 2017 and had a low volume of business that year. In 2018, there were insufficient funds in the firm's general account to meet all financial obligations, according to the decision. Webber laid off one associate lawyer and one support staff in 2018 in order to lower overhead costs.

He self-reported both years that he was unable to pay his remittances due to a cash flow shortage.

The GST arrears were paid off in full as of May 2019, the society notes. As of June 30, 2020, approximately $98,000 remained outstanding in unremitted payroll source deductions.

"The Respondent has further acknowledged that he was aware of the arrears and that he used the collected GST and payroll source deductions to pay other financial obligations of his firm," the decision states, noting Webber has acknowledged responsibility for the misconduct and has cooperated with the law society throughout its investigation.

A $9,000 fine, plus costs of $1,000, were submitted as part of a joint submission. 

The panel described the fine as "fair and reasonable."

"The Respondent, despite having practised law for over 50 years, demonstrated a gross lack of judgment in the continued organization and operation of his law practice. He used monies collected from his clients, which were due to the government and collected for that purpose, to keep his ailing practice afloat. ... Such conduct is simply not acceptable for a member of the profession," the decision reads.

Webber continues to pay down the owed remittances. The law society has given him until Sept. 30, 2020 to pay the $10,000.

You can read the full decision here.


Kamloops Fire is at the Coast Kamloops Hotel

Fire crews at Coast Hotel

Kamloops Firefighters responded to reports of smoke coming from the laundry room at the at the Coast Kamloops Hotel Saturday morning.

Hotel visitors are standing outside the building as crews investigate the scene.

Castanet has contacted Kamloops Fire Rescue for further details and will update this story as soon as more information becomes available.

Meet the new North Shore florist with a European Flare

Meet the new florist in town

Meet Rose and Wild, the new florist in Kamloops' North Shore neighbourhood.

"We aim to be something different," says Fee Khalide, owner at Rose and Wild.

"We're happy to not have a minimum order, to take flowers to people, we are more than happy to service flowers on the day until 4 o'clock if somebody calls us," he adds.

To say 'hello' to its new community, Rose and Wild is giving Kamloopsians flowers. 

"If you're going to come in and place an order for your friend for a birthday, we're going to give you some flowers to take home for yourself as well, just as a gift from us," Khalide continues.

Khalide is originally from the U.K.  He wants to bring his European flare to Kamloops to make Rose and Wild a one of a kind shop.

As for launching during a pandemic, Khalide thinks it's a nice time to be selling flowers.

"We do take a lot of flowers to the seniors homes as well, where people can't come and visit so people want their moms or their dads to know they're still in their thoughts," he explains. 

"We're just great excited to be in Kamloops and we look forward to meeting the community and getting to know people," says Khalid.


Judge upholds conviction, sentence in animal cruelty case

10-yr animal ban upheld

A B.C. woman has lost her appeal to have her 10-year ban on animal ownership lifted. 

On July 24, 2019, Cheryl McKinlay was convicted of willfully causing unnecessary pain, suffering or injury to a large number of her farm animals, according to court documents, by not providing them with adequate food, water, shelter and care.

The conviction stems from an SPCA visit to McKinlay's property on Dec. 7, 2017, in response to a complaint. Staff noticed "numerous deficiencies" in the health and safety of the animals, states a Sept. 17, 2020 decision by Kamloops Justice Len Marchard.

McKinlay was provided with a notice of compliance and was cautioned that if she didn't comply, her animals may be removed and charges may be laid. 

The SPCA returned four days later, court documents show, and found that the animals appeared to be in the same condition. A search warrant was executed the next day (Dec. 12) and 74 animals were seized as a result. Many of the animals were severely underweight. Some were emaciated.

The trial judge handed McKinlay a four-month community sentence. She was also banned from owning, having custody or control, or residing in the same premises as an animal or bird for a decade. The latter punishment was given because "Ms. McKinlay did not appreciate the risk she posed to the care of animals." The judge made an exception to her order and allowed her to live with her five cats and two dogs.

McKinlay appealed her conviction on the basis that she was involved in homestead farming, and that the SPCA, Crown, her lawyer and the court focused on industrial farming standards. 

"Ms. McKinlay submits that the Crown's evidence at trial was either misleading or misinterpreted," Marchand says in his decision.

McKinlay also argued in her appeal that she had what's called fresh evidence (not new evidence, but evidence that was available at the time of the trial but for whatever reason was not presented to the court). Documents included pictures related to homestead farming, body condition scoring for pigs and sheep, photographs of healthy animals that were not hers (for comparison purposes), and photographs of her property and her animals.

McKinlay's appeal also criticized her trial lawyer for inadequate representation.

Meanwhile, court documents state McKinlay argued the 10-year animal ban "an unfit sentence," given her lengthy association with animals.

In looking at the case again, Marchard found most of McKinlay's fresh evidence on appeal was not "fresh" at all.

"The Crown and defence witnesses were extensively examined and cross-examined (including by reference to many of the photographs Ms. McKinlay attached to her affidavits) concerning her property, efforts and animals," Marchand said. "The evidentiary record is complete on these topics and there is no need to adduce any fresh evidence in this regard."

When it comes to McKinlay's argument about homestead farming vs. industrial farming, Marchand said it's irrelevant. That's because the Criminal Code applies to animal owners engaged in both types of farming, he wrote.

"In this case, the trial judge set his mind to the issues arising under the (Criminal) Code. The identity of Ms. McKinlay as the owner and primary caregiver of the animals was clearly established. The trial judge carefully reviewed and weighed the evidence, including the expert evidence, concerning the poor body and living conditions of Ms. McKinlay’s animals," Marchand's decision reads.

As for whether her trial lawyer was ineffective, Marchand found the lawyer did their job to the best of their ability and that there was no miscarriage of justice.

In his judgment, Marchand said the 10-year animal ban, while on the higher end of the range of sentencing, was not unreasonable. He noted, from the trial judge's notes, that McKinlay has taken no personal responsibility for the condition of her animals, she lacks remorse and blames others.

"Ms. McKinley's love of animals has never been (an) issue. Her ability to care for them is. The sentence imposed by the trial judge, including the 10-year prohibition order, was justified to denounce her conduct and specifically deter her from failing to adequately care for animals in the future. Ms. McKinlay's appeal must be dismissed," Marchand said.

Columbia Shuswap Regional District announces 2019 Fire Department of the Year

Fire department of the year

The Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) has unveiled its 2019 Fire Department of the Year.

The title and trophy go to the crew at the Anglemont Fire Department.

Fire Chief Graham Lucas appeared before CSRD directors via Zoom on Sept. 17 to accept the accolade. 

"I want to thank the firefighters in the department for being such team players. This is a team effort. We appreciate the recognition," he told the board. 

In a news release, the district notes every CSRD fire department relies on volunteers to support its emergency services. The Anglemont Fire Department consistently has a strong membership with an unwavering commitment to training and safety, reads the statement.

"Anglemont firefighters are well-known and well-respected by residents in Electoral Area F, as well as among their CSRD firefighting colleagues," the release says, noting they've shown initiative in producing fire safety campaigns for wildfire reduction, home fire safety and in advocating for neighbourhood emergency programs..

The winning fire department has had the 2019 trophy at their fire hall since March. The board waited until September to do the formal recognition.

Patient care tower at RIH reaches 'topping off' milestone

Milestone reached at RIH

The new patient care tower under construction at Royal Inland Hospital has reached a significant milestone, according to Interior Health.

Crews have completed the concrete phase, also known as the 'topping off' milestone. The $471-million project now moves into the structural steel phase, notes a news release from the health authority. 

"I'm excited to see the progress on the patient care tower project at Royal Inland Hospital," says Health Minister Adrian Dix in the release. "This tower is going to form an important part of enhancing care for people in Kamloops and the entire region and is part of our ongoing commitment to the people in the Thompson Cariboo Shuswap region."

To mark the milestone, staff and community stakeholders signed a 12-foot beam before it was hoisted and placed in its permanent location at the construction site.

The new tower has nine storeys and will feature single-patient rooms, child and adolescent mental health services, maternal and child health services, respiratory therapy services, surgical suites, a mental health and substance use inpatient unit, and more.

Construction began in September 2018. The opening is slated for the summer of 2022.

B.C. government to transfer Nicola Valley First Nations 11 hectares of land

Land transfer complete

A collective of five First Nations in the Nicola Valley will be receiving 11 hectares of Crown land.

The province announced the land transfer this morning in a press release.

The parcel, known as the Gateway 286 lands, previously held the Merritt tourism information centre. The facility closed in January 2018.

The release says the lands will be transferred via Spayum Holdings, a consolidated development corporation owned by the Nicola Valley First Nations. The five are the Coldwater Indian Band, Lower Nicola Indian Band, Nooaitch Indian Band, Shackan Indian Band and Upper Nicola Indian Band.

"Supporting the Nicola Chiefs in this important business opportunity will benefit residents and visitors to the Nicola Valley, and is a positive example of our government's efforts to advance reconciliation with the Nicola Valley First Nations through new economic development opportunities," says Scott Fraser, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, in the release.

"This important step strengthens our government-to-government relationship with the Nicola Valley First Nations, creates job opportunities for members within their communities and shares in the prosperity of the province," he continues.

Spayum anticipates investing $40 million and creating hundreds of permanent and temporary jobs during development of the site. The development will also reopen the landmark Merritt Gateway rest stop for travellers on the Coquihalla Highway.

The five bands have been trying to acquire the lands for more than 20 years.

Kamloops man charged for stealing and using a Barriere resident's debit card

Man charged for 2019 theft

A Kamloops man has been charged for the theft of a Barriere resident's debit card in 2019.

The card had been used to withdraw money from ATMs in the Kamloops area.

Following an RCMP investigation, one count of theft under $5,000 has been laid against Kamloops resident Daniel Eric Stedel.

Stedel is scheduled to appear in Kamloops court on Oct. 22. 

French school district to acquire school site to serve Kamloops students

Over $2M for school site

Francophone students will now have a permanent facility in Kamloops for École Collines-d'Or.

The province has given over $2 million to the Conseil scolaire francophone de la Colombie-Britannique (CSF) to buy the former Oak Hills Elementary building from the Kamloops-Thompson School District. The school is big enough that if it requires expansion in the future, it will be able to meet the needs of K-12 francophone students in that area.

Currently, the CSF runs École Collines-d'Or, in its existing facility on a short-term lease from SD73. The building has a capacity of 88, and last year 87 students were enrolled. 

"We are pleased to be in a position to sell Oak Hills Elementary to Conseil scolaire francophone de la Colombie-Britannique in support of both the francophone school district and the Ministry of Education. The SD73 board wants to acknowledge the ministry's significant capital investment in the Valleyview Secondary expansion, and we are encouraged other Kamloops projects are high on the priority list for additional capital investment in our district," says Rhonda Kershaw, chair of the Kamloops-Thompson Board of Education in a press release.

Oak Hills Elementary school was built for SD73 back in 1981 and was closed in 2006 due to declining student enrolment. The building includes four classrooms, a staff room, administration office space and an activity room.

Run for the Cure going online with Jully Black, Barenaked Ladies

Run for the Cure goes virtual

On Sunday, Oct. 4, the people of Kamloops are invited to join the reimagined CIBC Run for the Cure.

Since big gatherings are a no-go during the pandemic, the fundraiser run for the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) has been transformed into a unique experience with both physical and virtual elements.

Through the revamped CIBC Run for the Cure app and website, participants can now create and customize their own virtual runner, fundraise to unlock rewards and track activity.  

On Run Day, Kamloopsians can join the Run's live-stream online and opening ceremonies at 8:30 a.m. on Canadian Cancer Society's Facebook and Youtube pages. Then, head out to walk or run in their neighbourhood.

Opening ceremonies will be hosted by award-winning singer-songwriter Jully Black, who has partnered with the Run to cheer on participants, supporters and Canadians affected by breast cancer. There'll also be warm-up performances by Barenaked Ladies, Jess Moskaluke and Carolyn Dawn Johnson. 

“When the world stopped because of the global health pandemic, breast cancer didn’t,” says CCS's Rachel Zapp, in a press release. “Every day, 75 Canadians are diagnosed with breast cancer and many more are supporting loved ones through their diagnosis. We are calling on all Kamloops residents to join us at the CIBC Run for the Cure to help support people affected by breast cancer.” 

To register for the Run or donate to the Canadian Cancer Society, click here.

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