‘Ice bombs’ on Metro Vancouver bridges damage at least 40 vehicles

VANCOUVER _ British Columbia’s transportation minister says more needs to be done to prevent chunks of ice falling from Metro Vancouver’s bridges and damaging vehicles.

A winter storm brought more than five centimetres of snow to the region Monday and there were numerous reports of snow and ice falling from bridges, leaving vehicles with cracked windshields and dented roofs.

“We’re very thankful that no one was hurt during these incidents, but we’re not happy at all that vehicles were damaged by falling snow and ice,” said Transportation Minister Todd Stone.

He said the Insurance Corporation of B.C. has received 40 claims from people whose vehicles were damaged. Ten of the claims came from drivers who were travelling over the Port Mann Bridge between Surrey and Coquitlam, and 30 from motorists going over the Alex Fraser Bridge, which spans New Westminster and Delta.

Stone said the province will pay the insurance deductibles for all of the damaged vehicles, but it’s too soon to say what the cost will be because more drivers could still come forward.

Similar incidents were reported on the Port Mann Bridge in 2012, shortly after it opened. Devices were later installed on each of the bridge’s 288 cables to drop down and clear snow and slush in wintry weather. They were in operation Monday.

A de-icing spray was used to try and keep snow and ice off the towers and cross beam of the Alex Fraser Bridge, but staff are now investigating what else should have been done.

“I want to say very clearly to the people of British Columbia that we can and we will do better,” Stone said.

Another snow storm is scheduled to hit the region Thursday. Stone said, among other things, monitoring is being increased on the bridges.

CP3

High-end luxury SUVs are most commonly stolen vehicles in Ontario

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Sport Utility Vehicles Still the Darlings of Auto Thieves

The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) today unveiled its annual list of the ten vehicles most frequently stolen in Quebec. Once again, luxury sport utility vehicles (SUVs) are the first choice among criminals.

With the exception of BMW’s 335xi–which is considered a luxury car—IBC’s Top 10 clearly demonstrates that for thieves, the appeal of sport utility vehicles shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, all the cars that fell into their clutches in 2015 were SUVs.

If overall rates for auto theft are continuing to decline in Quebec, they remain a costly problem for insurers. Between 2013 and 2015, for example, the frequency of thefts dropped by 25%, but the average cost for these types of claims actually rose by 15%, from $15,428to $17,755. “Today’s thefts are different from what they were several years ago. Thieves no longer ‘borrow’ cars to go for a spin; they are now acting as part of organized networks, and vehicles are often stolen for resale abroad,” says Anne Morin, Supervisor, Communications and Public Affairs at the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

In addition to the export market, the vehicles are stolen for resale locally to people who are unaware that they are in fact victims of fraud. The vehicles are also dismantled and sold for parts or used to commit other crimes.

The top 10 in Quebec

This year, the ten most frequently stolen vehicles in Quebec were:

  1. TOYOTA 4RUNNER 4P 2015 TRUCK/VAN
  2. TOYOTA 4RUNNER 4P 2014 TRUCK/VAN
  3. LEXUS RX350 4P 2013 TRUCK/VAN
  4. LEXUS RX350 4P 2015 TRUCK/VAN
  5. TOYOTA FJ CRUISER 4P 2011 TRUCK/VAN
  6. INFINITI QX60 4P 2015 TRUCK/VAN
  7. BMW 335xi 2P 2008
  8. TOYOTA 4RUNNER 4P 2013 TRUCK/VAN
  9. LEXUS RX350 4P 2014 TRUCK/VAN
  10. LEXUS IS 300 4P 2002

Preventing Auto Theft

The IBC’s Top 10 indicates that, in Quebec, nine out of ten stolen vehicles were built after 2007—in other words, after the installation of anti-theft devices became mandatory under the law. Although these systems discourage some thieves, they are not infallible. So it is important to be vigilant and take certain precautions to discourage thieves from targeting your vehicle.

Protect your vehicle by following these tips:

  • Never leave the engine running while the vehicle is unattended.
  • Park in a well-lit area.
  • After parking, always shut the windows and lock the doors.
  • Place valuables and any packages in the trunk out of sight.
  • Park your vehicle in your garage overnight.
  • Do not leave personal documents in the glove compartment.
  • Take the registration and proof of insurance with you when leaving the car.

About the Insurance Bureau of Canada

The Insurance Bureau of Canada is the industry association that represents the majority of insurers across the country. It offers consumers a variety of services to help them stay informed and provides assistance with the purchase of home and automobile insurance as well as in the event of disasters.

* The Top-10 list for 2016 is a compilation of the 2015 statistics from Quebec auto insurers.

SOURCE Insurance Bureau of Canada

Scaffold company sues Regina refinery over explosion and fire in 2011

By CJME

THE CANADIAN PRESS

REGINA _ A scaffolding company is suing Consumers’ Co-operative Refineries Ltd. for negligence over an explosion and fire that happened in 2011.

Skyway Canada Ltd. alleges it lost more than $2.7 million in equipment in the explosion, along with associated business losses.

A report from the City of Regina’s fire inspectors found the explosion was caused by corrosion in pipes.

The lawsuit accuses Co-op Refineries of negligence for failing to maintain the pipelines in a safe condition and breach of duty, claiming it was an implied term of the agreement between Skyway and the refinery that the premises would be reasonably safe.

In its statement of defence, the refinery says its agreement with Skyway said, either expressly or implicitly, that there would be no specific duty of care outside the contract.

The refinery says that deal also made Skyway responsible for loss or use of its property whether there was negligence or not and that Skyway would insure against loss or damage to its equipment.

The refinery says in its statement that Skyway had given it proof that there was insurance on the equipment.

The refinery also denied it was careless in any way, that it failed to maintain the pipes in a safe manner, that it failed to properly monitor the corrosion of pipes, that any of its standards, policies, program or inspection plans with respect to piping were deficient or that any of its inspections or analysis with respect to piping were conducted in a negligent manner.

None of the claims have been proven in court.

In 2013, after the cause of the explosion was found, the refinery was charged with five counts under Occupational Health and Safety regulations.

In 2015, the refinery pleaded guilty to failing to ensure work was properly supervised and the other four charges were withdrawn. The refinery paid a fine of $280,000.

CP3

CIBC’s exposure to mortgage market raises concerns among some analysts

By Alexandra Posadzki

THE CANADIAN PRESS

TORONTO _ CIBC’s exposure to the residential mortgage market has increased, raising concerns among some analysts who say it comes at a time when Canada’s real estate market is at risk of a correction.

But the bank said its loan delinquencies remain low and stable, including in the hot housing markets of Toronto and Vancouver.

Edward Jones analyst Jim Shanahan says CIBC’s (TSX:CM) portfolio of uninsured mortgage and home equity loans is 5.4 times its regulatory capital.

That’s up from a year ago, when CIBC’s mortgage loan book was 4.7 times its regulatory capital, said Shanahan, adding that the bank is more at risk in the event of a correction than its peers.

The average for the four banks that have reported so far _ Scotiabank (TSX:BNS), Royal Bank (TSX:RY), CIBC (TSX:CM) and TD Bank (TSX:TD) is 3.3 times their regulatory capital.

“It’s clear that they’re more exposed to a sharp reduction in real estate values in Canada than any of the other major banks,” Shanahan said.

The bank’s exposure to residential mortgage loans is already “extraordinarily high,” and the fact that it has continued to grow is alarming, Shanahan said.

“They’ve continued to layer on more risk at a time when there are a lot of warning bells going off and regulators are expressing concern.”

Ottawa tightened mortgage lending rules in October in a bid to ensure that Canadians are not taking on more debt than they can handle.

The move was a response to growing concerns about rising household debt levels, which are at record highs relative to income, and soaring home prices, particularly in Toronto and Vancouver.

Shanahan was not the only analyst to take issue with CIBC’s growing exposure to the uninsured mortgage market.

The bank, which grew its fourth-quarter net income by 20 per cent to $931 million, was peppered with questions regarding its mortgage loan book during a conference call Thursday to discuss the bank’s results.

Chief risk officer Laura Dottori-Attanasio said the vast majority of the bank’s uninsured residential mortgage loans have high credit scores and low loan-to-value ratios. Loans that are small relative to the value of the house being purchased are typically considered less risky.

“We continued to be very pleased with the credit profile and quality of our uninsured mortgage portfolio,” Dottori-Attanasio told analysts during the conference call.

David Williamson, group head of retail and business banking, said he’s comfortable with the bank’s growing exposure to the residential mortgage market because of the quality of its loan book, particularly in Toronto and Vancouver.

“If you look at the loan to value for uninsured mortgages originated in BC over the last 12 months, of the four banks that have reported so far, ours is the lowest,” Williamson said.

Other banks have either kept their exposure to the uninsured mortgage market relatively flat or even reduced it by taking out portfolio insurance.

At TD Bank, which on Thursday reported that it grew its fourth-quarter net income by 25 per cent to $2.30 billion, uninsured mortgage loans are three times the bank’s regulatory capital, Shanahan said.

CP3

$100,000 Non-Pecuniary Assessment for Chronic PTSD

erik-magraken

Reasons for judgement were published November, 28th by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, assessing damages for post traumatic stress disorder as a result of a vehicle collision.

In today’s case, (Harmati v. Williams) the Plaintiff was involved in a 2011 rear end collision that the Defendant accepted fault for.  She suffered PTSD and a generalized anxiety disorder following the crash and the Court accepted these conditions were caused by the collision.  In assessing non-pecuniary damages at $100,000 Madam Justice Choi provided the following reasons:

[48]         Dr. O’Shaughnessy was steadfast in his opinion when he testified that Ms. Harmati’s PTSD was as a result of the accident. He wavered on cross examination that the generalized anxiety was a result of the accident. I accept Dr. O’Shaughnessy’s testimony and diagnosis and found him to be a forthright and helpful expert witness…

[70]         On a balance of probabilities, I find that Ms. Harmati’s present disability, both physical and psychological, is a result of the accident. I accept Dr. O’Shaughnessy’s opinion that the PTSD was triggered by the accident, and I am satisfied that there is a substantial connection between the injuries Ms. Harmati suffered in this accident and her present symptoms sufficient to impose liability on the Defendants. Just as the Defendants are liable for any physical injuries caused to Ms. Harmati, they are too liable for any psychological injuries that arose from this accident.

[71]         I find that but for the accident, Ms. Harmati would not have suffered from pain in the neck, head and back or post-traumatic stress disorder. While Ms. Harmati may have had a more extreme reaction to the accident than most, she is better described as a “thin skull” than a crumbling one. The injuries she has suffered were not inherent in her original position and would not have occurred had the accident not happened…

[81]         A few lay witnesses testified as to Ms. Harmati’s ongoing limitations.

[82]         Mr. Gosling testified that Ms. Harmati is responsible for most of the cleaning, but that they don’t keep a clean house, and that Ms. Harmati is responsible for most of the cooking. She does more now than she did when they first cohabited because she is no longer working. I found Mr. Gosling a measured and careful witness, whose evidence I found credible.

[83]         Mr. Gosling testified that Ms. Harmati does not want to be a burden, so she will insist on performing tasks that then require her to rest, such as carrying groceries and pots of boiling water.

[84]         Mr. Derek Carswell worked with Ms. Harmati at Electronics Art. They were both hired on the same day in 2010 and became friends. Prior to the accident, he described her as “bubbly, enthusiastic and lots of energy”. After the energy, he testified that she was “subdued, lacking vital energy”. He said they played video games with their respective partners and that after the accident, she could not play video games for long because she needed to rest and due to nausea. Mr. Carswell testified that some video games are virtual reality games, involving wearing a headset and a screen which wraps around your face, and is an immersive gaming experience. Ms. Harmati has been unable to participate in this type of game since the accident…

[88]         Having considered the evidence and cases, it is my view that an award of non-pecuniary damages in the amount of $100,000 is appropriate.

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