Eight seal pups released at Porteau Cove after being nursed to health

The Vancouver Aquarium released eight seal pups back into the wild Thursday morning, just in time for Christmas.

The eight seal pups, who were released at Porteau Cove, were among 202 other animals that were nursed back to health through the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre program this year.

It’s been the busiest year the program has ever seen.

This morning eight of our ’s harbour seals are going home for the holidays! 🎄🎅🏽

The pups were rescued when they were five days old or younger, and they’re finally healthy enough to be released.

“Most of the seals, when they come in, they’re emaciated, dehydrated and they’ve been separated from their moms for a variety of different reasons. So they’re really in need of care at that point,” said rescue centre manager Lindsaye Akhurst.

“They’ll go out, probably explore around for the first little while and then disperse off in different directions.”

Casey Chiu, one of the volunteers released Gremlin, one of the seals, on Thursday morning

He had a message for him as he went on his way.

“Go out, go explore, have fun. Hopefully he’s going to do well in the wild,” Chiu said.

“I’m really excited that they get to go home for Christmas.”

PHOTOS: Seal pups being released on Thursday morning.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Missing teen from New Westminster has history of disappearing

Fhionna McCormick is a missing 18-year-old who has a history of walking away from home.

Global has previously reported on her missing three times in 2012.

New Westminster Police have asked the public to help find McCormick, who was last seen in New Westminster on Nov. 28, although there was an unconfirmed sighting of her on Dec. 11 in the Downtown Eastside.

McCormick is described by police as 5’8”, around 110 lbs, with green eyes and long brown-and-purple hair. She has a broken right arm, which is in a sling.

“We are concerned for Fhionna’s well-being, as she is said to have addiction issues,” Sgt. Jeff Scott, media relations officer at New Westminster Police, said in a statement.

Anyone who sees McCormick is asked to contact local police.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Campers’ vehicles shot in Chilliwack backcountry, and police are seeking witnesses

Chilliwack RCMP are asking for witnesses after two vehicles were shot in the backcountry last week.

Police received two reports from campers on Dec. 10, alleging that their vehicles had been shot.

Officers investigated at two sites along Chilliwack Lake Road: a fish hatchery and the Tamihi Bridge, and carried out a “thorough examination” of vehicles at both sites.

The police believe that the vehicles, not the campers, were the targets in each shooting. No one was hurt.

“The reckless use of a firearm is a criminal act and it is fortunate no one was injured,” Cpl. Mike Rail said in a statement.

If you have any information on the shooting, contact the Chilliwack RCMP at 604-792-4611.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

New Westminster police seek witnesses after vehicle hits girl in ‘very thick fog’

New Westminster police are seeking witnesses after an 11-year-old girl was struck in a hit and run in “very thick fog” on Dec. 7.

The girl was hit in the crosswalk at 12th Street and 7th Avenue around 5 p.m. She was left with non-life-threatening injuries.

The vehicle is believed to be a silver or grey SUV, and the passenger side mirror may be damaged.

Sgt. Jeff Scott is asking people to be careful driving in the fog, and to “use your headlights and watch for pedestrians.”

Anyone with information is asked to call the New Westminster Police Department at 604-525-5411.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Grocery stores are making over $3M from penny-rounding: UBC student study

Grocery stores are collectively taking in as much as $3.27 million per year thanks to penny-rounding, according to a study published by a UBC third-year economics and math student last month.

Christina Cheung studied the effect of “penny-rounding,” or rounding up prices to the nearest five-cent increments, at grocery stores.

And she did it as a passion project, outside her classwork.

As part of the study, Cheung looked at grocery prices in three “representative” grocery stores, collecting 18,095 prices in total.

Through rounding, she found that a typical Canadian grocery store collects an estimated $157 in revenue from rounding on cash transactions.

As most prices end with the number nine, she found that penny-rounding works in favour of the store, if the customer is only buying one or two items.

She found that “penny-rounding isn’t going to be zero [impact] at the end of the day.”

As the date for phasing out the penny approached, the Mint said taxpayers would save as much as $11 million per year, and that it would only affect cash transactions, not purchases made using credit or debt.

Cheung believes the nickel will be eliminated next due to inflation — and that, she said, would exacerbate the problem.

 “It’s very likely that when once you remove the nickel the effect is going to increase,” Cheung said. “It’s possible that the effects might snowball over time.”

Cheung said it would be minimal.

“For an average Canadian it will just come down to 10 cents,” Cheung said.

The amount “really accumulates” when a store “gets thousands, if not more than that, transactions per year, and even per day.”

Sylvain Charlebois, a food researcher and professor at Dalhousie University, said there was nothing wrong with the study, but he added that it just didn’t really apply to the way that people shop in grocery stores.

“Her theory would work if everyone would buy one item at a time and the rounding would actually happen on every single item,” Charlebois said.

“In the grocery store, rarely as a consumer would you only buy one item. You would buy 10, 15, 20 items at once and the rounding actually occurs once you equate all of the prices together.”

Cheung stressed that her research only applies when buying one or two items at a time.

“If you buy one and two items the effect is going to be more prominent,” Cheung said.

“Whereas three or more items there’s no effects of rounding.”

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Vancouver’s transit system ranked third most sustainable in North America

A new report finds that Vancouver has the third most sustainable transportation network in North America.

The Sustainable Cities Mobility Index measures city’s transportation systems on all continents by their usability, environmental impact, and the ability to help businesses grow and thrive. In North America, only New York and San Francisco rated higher than Vancouver.

Langley city councillor and transit blogger Nathan Pachal said he’s not surprised by the result since the region has been putting an effort into its transit system over the past decade.

“If you look at what our municipalities have been doing, especially the City of Vancouver… over the last decade has really been pushing towards sustainable modes of travel,” Pachal said.

While Vancouver’s transit system ranked well overall, it received its worst rating in the category of usability, where it ranked 56th worldwide.

“There’s certainly gaps in our region where there is no transit service,”  Pachal said. “Being from Langley city and the south of the Fraser there’s certainly lots of gaps when it comes to transit service.

“There’s gaps in our cycling network and in many parts of the region it’s still next to impossible to get anywhere without a car.”

Vancouver ranked 28th overall in global rankings. Its highest single overall rating was in the ability to help foster growth in the region, where it ranked 8th.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Gordie Hogg takes hotly contested South Surrey-White Rock byelection

The people of South Surrey-White Rock chose one of two names familiar to politics to represent them in Parliament on Monday night.

Liberal candidate Gordie Hogg will replace Dianne Watts, who stepped down to run for the leadership of the BC Liberal Party.

Hogg captured 47.5 per cent of the vote, defeating Conservative Kerry-Lynne Findlay by 1,617 votes.

“This is really a celebration of what you’ve done. Your commitment to, your caring, the grass roots and the process that is our democracy, which is our country, and if this is your victory, thank you so very much.”

Three other byelections took place across Canada on the same night, but the race in South Surrey-White Rock was seen as one of the most-contested races.

The race pitted Findlay, an ex-MP for Delta-Richmond East and a former minister of national revenue, against Liberal Gordie Hogg, who had served as MLA for Surrey-White Rock from 1997 to 2017.

Hogg had previously served in various provincial cabinet roles including minister of children and family development, minister of state for mining, minister of state for ActNow BC and chair of the government caucus.

NDP candidate Jonathan Silveira previously ran to be a school trustee with Surrey Kids Matter party, which he founded. He has studied at Langara College and Simon Fraser University (SFU), where he played a key role in bringing the U-Pass to campus.

The Green Party put forward Larry Colero, who ran unsuccessfully in the previous two federal elections.

A White Rock resident for seven years, he has taught corporate ethics at SFU’s Beedie School of Business and UBC’s Sauder School of Business.

Michael Huenefeld, the Progressive Canadian Party candidate, previously worked as a researcher in the provincial legislature and managed and coordinated numerous campaigns at the municipal, provincial and federal levels. He currently teaches business as Columbia College and SFU.

Rod Taylor, the candidate for the Christian Heritage Party, wants to address the national debt, as well as the cost of the federal bureaucracy.

Taylor ran on a platform of restoring traditional marriage and keeping schoolchildren protected from “abusive and inappropriate indoctrination disguised as education.”

Donald Wilson, the Libertarian candidate, is a family lawyer and is an advocate for smaller government and individual liberty.

Federal byelections also took place in Bonavista-Burin-Trinity, Scarborough-Agincourt and Battlefords-Lloydminster.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.