VICTORIA – A mascot that helped raise a stink about the dumping of raw sewage into the waters off Victoria is about to be retired.Mr. Floatie was created by elementary school teacher James Skwarok on April Fool’s Day in 2004 as part of the spoof organization People Opposed to Outfall Pollution, or POOP.Brown and more than six-feet-tall, the Mr. Floatie costume resembled his organization’s acronym and came to represent the lack of progress on the development of a secondary-sewage treatment plant for Greater Victoria.Skwarok and his Mr. Floatie character decided to voluntarily step down after the region adopted a plan last September to build a treatment facility by 2020, ending the flow of unfiltered waste directly into the Salish Sea and Strait of Juan de Fuca.Mr. Floatie is slated to make one of his last public appearances Friday at a ceremony in Seattle to mark his retirement, hosted by the Canadian consul general and attended by Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps and area tourism representatives.The lack of sewage treatment has angered U.S. officials who recently called for a tourism boycott if the region did not stop dumping an estimated 130-million litres of effluent a day into waters between B.C. and Washington state. (CFAX)Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version misspelled the last name of James Skwarok.
Five stories in the news for Friday, Aug. 13———NEW DETAILS EMERGE OF ALLEGED FREDERICTON SHOOTERA Fredericton business owner who knew the suspect in Friday’s deadly shooting described him as a “lonely person” who played a lot of first-person shooter video games. Brendan Doyle, former owner of recently closed Read’s Newsstand & Cafe, says he asked Matthew Raymond to stop coming to his coffee shop after he allegedly expressed Islamophobic views and shared his dislike for Syrian refugees with patrons. Raymond is facing four counts of first-degree murder in deaths of police officers Robb Costello and Sara Burns, as well as Bobbie Lee Wright and her boyfriend, Donnie Robichaud.———OFFICERS MAY FACE STRESS INJURIES AFTER SHOOTING: EXPERTSFour years after Justin Bourque’s Moncton shooting rampage that killed three Mounties, police in New Brunswick are facing a new traumatic event that may have long-lasting psychological consequences. On Friday morning in Fredericton, two city police officers were shot and killed while responding to a call. One expert says that in the aftermath of such traumatic events, police officers can develop operational stress injuries, especially those who’ve seen both colleagues and friends killed in the line of duty.———TWELVE-YEAR-OLD RECORDS TRIBUTE FOR SHOOTING VICTIMSAs 12-year-old Josh Cochrane of Yarmouth, N.S., watched the news of the shooting in Fredericton, he thought of the fear the responding officers must have felt, and the children of the victims whose parents wouldn’t be there to tuck them in at night. Cochrane wanted to do something to help comfort the grieving community, so he wrote and recorded a tribute song, to the tune of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” called “A Police Hallelujah.” In the two days since his mom posted his song to Facebook, the video has been viewed more than 300,000 times.———EVACUATION ALERTS EXPANDED IN NORTHERN B.C.Residents near the north-central B.C. communities of Fort Saint James and Vanderhoof are being urged to prepare for evacuation as forest fires surround the area. A 300 square kilometre blaze is raging just 35 kilometres away from the communities. An expanded evacuation alert was issued Sunday, and with no rain in the forecast for another 10 days, it will be a challenge to keep the flames from spreading. There are nearly 600 wildfires burning across British Columbia.———TORONTO SEWAGE SPILL SYMBOL OF WIDER PROBLEMLast Wednesday, a team of environmentalists descended on Toronto’s harbourfront looking for signs the previous night’s flash-flood rainfall had caused the city’s sewer system to overflow into Lake Ontario. And there, in plain sight, floating on the surface was a toxic stew of refuse that had gushed from the sewer lines. Toronto, like most Canadian cities, doesn’t monitor real-time data of sewage leaks into lakes, rivers or oceans. As a result, it’s unknown how much raw sewage entered overflow pipes when the storm overwhelmed the city’s treatment facilities.———ALSO IN THE NEWS— The 42nd annual conference of eastern Canadian premiers and New England governors takes place in Stowe, Vermont.— Federal Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor will make a research-related announcement in Montreal.— Syncrude Canada to appear in court in Fort McMurray, Alta., on charges related to the deaths of blue herons at one of its mine sites in 2015.— Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan in Yellowknife to begin his tour of Northern Canadian Armed Forces locations with an announcement.———