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Ottawa and automakers look for a solution to rising car thefts

Here’s a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to
catch you up to date on what you need to know today…

Feds look for ideas to stop car theft

Officials from various levels of government will meet with police and industry leaders in Ottawa today to exchange ideas on how to combat the scourge of auto theft.

The federal government says an estimated 90,000 cars are stolen in Canada annually, generating about $1 billion in costs for policyholders and Canadian taxpayers.

It says car theft increasingly involves organized crime groups and the proceeds from these crimes are used to fund other illegal activities.

Ottawa says most stolen cars sent overseas are destined for Africa and the Middle East.

On Wednesday, the government allocated $28 million in new money to help tackle the export of stolen vehicles.

Automakers play cat and mouse with thieves

Automakers say they are caught in a “cat and mouse” game with criminals as car thefts increase.

Although they are taking steps to improve security features, the companies say that each update is eventually counteracted by new efforts from bad actors.

Honda Canada is one of the automakers at the center of the storm, as its CRV is among the most frequently stolen models, according to a November report by insurance fraud prevention group Équité Association.

Other Honda models popular with thieves include the Accord and Civic, which appear on the association’s top 10 most stolen vehicles list.

Honda Canada spokesperson John Bordignon says the company knows theft is a major problem and is continually improving its theft recovery technology.

Some non-emergency services resume in Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia Health says the situation in the province after last weekend’s major winter storm has improved enough that some non-emergency services are resuming.

Officials say that includes facilities in the Eastern Zone, such as Cape Breton Island, Antigonish and Guysborough counties.

While efforts continue to clear deep snow, they say people should not travel to a scheduled care appointment if it is unsafe.

They say people in areas where dangerous conditions persist should instead consider rescheduling any non-urgent appointments.

For several days now, schools and most government offices remain closed across Cape Breton.

Event to commemorate the anniversary of the Quebec daycare bus accident

The balloons will be released today in a ceremony marking one year since a bus crashed into a Montreal-area daycare, killing two young children and injuring six more.

The memorial event will take place in a park near the Garderie Éducative Ste-Rose in Laval, which became the site of the tragedy on February 8, 2023, when a city bus left the road and roared into the entrance of daycare during the busy morning drop-off period.

Maëva David, five, and Jacob Gauthier, four, died in the accident, while six other children were sent to hospital.

Former city bus driver Pierre Ny St-Amand is charged with two counts of first-degree murder, as well as seven other counts, including attempted murder and aggravated assault.

A preliminary hearing has been set for March, and Ny St-Amand’s attorney says he plans to argue that the 52-year-old did not have the criminal intent necessary to commit first-degree murder.

Alberta report shows little progress on caribou

An Alberta government document suggests the province has made little progress in protecting its 15 threatened caribou herds, despite signing an agreement with Ottawa that promised it would do so.

The recently released document summarizes progress over the first two years of an agreement under which the province was supposed to protect threatened critical caribou habitat.

It finds that between 2020 and 2021, the industry’s footprint actually increased on most of those lands, with hundreds of square kilometers of new activity.

He says, on average, Alberta caribou ranges have less than a third of the intact habitat the herds need to sustain themselves.

Although overall caribou numbers remain stable, the report attributes it to a program that shot or poisoned more than 800 wolves during the two years the report covers.

As the sun sets, a swarm of rats rises in Vancouver

British Columbia pest control experts say they are seeing an increase in rat problems in Metro Vancouver, as a viral video shows a mass of the rodents swarming outside a SkyTrain station.

The rats at Burrard Station in downtown Vancouver come out as the sun sets, up and down stairs and through a small park.

Bill Rough, a pest controller based in Surrey, says he has experienced a 30 to 40 percent increase in rat-related calls over the past year and a half.

He says the provincial ban on a type of rat poison last year is one of the main reasons for the rat boom in B.C.’s Lower Mainland.

The government says anticoagulant rodenticides pose a risk to wildlife and animals that eat poisoned rats.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 8, 2024.

The Canadian Press

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