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Photo — Kathy O'Reilly

Rose Kochan’s grandson Tyler Howard is understandably a big fan of her crochet work that was for sale at the Port Hardy Farmers’ and Artisans Market June 27.




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Take a Peek Inside this Week...

Island Health hires nurses

 North Island Eagle, March 17 2023

After the Province announced a $30 million investment in health-care services in North Vancouver Island on Jan. 27, Island Health and its partners have made progress in implementing the actions designed to improve and stabilize health-care services for the region.

In a press release issued March 14, Island Health stated it has hired new staff to support the health system in the North Island. In addition, Island Health anticipates delivering over $280,000 in quarterly retention bonuses to more than 200 current employees in the first quarter of the program, with eligible staff already receiving enhanced travel compensation.

“Island Health is committed to sharing updates as we move forward on this priority work,” said James Hanson, Island Health Vice-President, Central/North Island clinical operations.  

“We have established a task force that includes leaders from multiple teams whose focus is to ensure our patients and care providers realize the benefits of these investments as quickly as possible.” 

Island Health has added two additional long-term care beds at Eagle Ridge Manor and six new sobering spaces and expand services to be available 24 hours per day, seven days per week. 

Additionally, they have three Registered Nurses/Registered Psychiatric Nurses and 12 qualified candidates are working through the recruitment and selection process, including five in the interview stage. 

One Licensed Practical Nurse has been hired and two are in the interview stage. One community professional has been hired into home care and public health. Five qualified candidates are in the interview and offer stages.

Seven support staff including ambassadors, nursing assistants and health care support workers have been hired.

One Protection Services Officer has been hired and four candidates are working through the recruitment and selection process including one in the offer stage. Two full time and two casual Inter-facility Porters for dedicated shuttle service have been hired and offers extended for two additional positions. 

Supported by a robust national recruitment campaign (#northvancouverislandcareers), Island Health is actively recruiting and targeting a broad range of potential new hires in North Vancouver Island. 

Since launching, over 1,000 prospective candidates have been engaged, including many nurses that have shown interest in one or more opportunities within Island Health. 



Sea Otter Eco Tours has new owners

By Kathy O'Reilly, North Island Eagle, March 17 2023

The search for a ‘made in BC’ getaway led Ron and Meghan Halcrow to Port Alice in 2020.

“Ron has been fishing on Vancouver Island for over 30 years, so we wanted an outdoor adventure on the North Island,” Meghan said. 

“My uncle (Blair McLean) owned Sea Otter Eco Tours in Port Alice, so we decided on that, not knowing what to expect.”

The couple, from Langley, BC, spent the week enjoying the beautiful scenery, fishing, and spotting wildlife. Since that initial visit, they returned to Port Alice five to six times per year. 

“Now we are in the final stages of moving to Port Alice so we can operate the Sea Otter Eco Tours. We will be there permanently on April 1, 2023.”

This ties in with their plans for a May 1 launch date. The tours will continue until weather shuts them down in the fall

They decided to relocate to Port Alice because they fell in love with the beauty of the region and the peaceful environment.

“Ron has always wanted to live on the Island. Also, we want to contribute to a lively community.”

This includes plans to feature local artists on the walls of their B&B.

“We don’t see our business just as us. We see it as the whole community, the whole region. We thought, for example, we can have a local photographer or painter put their artwork on our walls and if someone wants to buy something, then we’re connecting with other people,” Meghan said at a Speed Networking - Updates and Inspiration from your Partners in Tourism - Zoom meeting March 3, adding another idea is giving clients vouchers for the local coffee shop or referrals to other touring companies that have a different focus like Grizzly bears. 

“We want to be community minded.”

They like that Port Hardy, Port McNeill and other communities are nearby “so there is a regional flavour”. 

The very adventurous and energetic duo have never imagined a ‘traditional’ retirement, so taking over Sea Otter Eco Tours seemed like a logical step. 

“Not that we are retirement age yet,” Meghan laughs.

Owning the touring company will give them the opportunity to share their love of the area with others.

“We want other people to experience a unique adventure too and the thrill of spotting wildlife. We love to host guests and we want visitors to have a memorable Vancouver Island experience.”

In addition to sea otter tours, Ron and Meghan will offer fishing charters and a B & B. Ron has been in the construction industry for 40 years and has owned his own businesses. Meghan had a career as a customer experience and operations manager for a BC company.

“Most recently over the last 10 years I have been teaching English to international students so I’m always learning, and I love to pass on my knowledge.”

While not permanent residents yet, “we love it whenever we’re there.”

Ron and Meghan have been “working like crazy” to get their website up. 

More information can be found on their Sea Otter Eco Tours Facebook page.



Photo —Submitted

Ron and Meghan Halcrow are the new owners of Port Alice-based Sea Otter Eco Tours which will be open for business May 1.

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