This is my personal website and grumbling dumping ground. I’m a Vancouver-based journalist who works for CBC Vancouver. I also tweet at @j_mcelroy.
This website exists because Journalism Thought Leaders (TM) say that young journalists should have their own postal code on the internet. More than that, it’s a motivation for me to write for pleasure on subjects that interest and amuse me outside of local news. Most journalists in their 20s keep up a blog as they freelance around, hoping that if potential bosses Google their name, they’ll see a dedicated and thoughtful person who desperately wants to be employed. Then they get a regular paycheque, and the blog’s output dissipates. But I’m trying the opposite approach, because…well…
If you’re interested in my background, I grew up in Victoria, B.C. and went to school at the University of British Columbia. There, I learned how to be a journalist at The Ubyssey, the campus paper. It’s been the training ground of amazing Canadian journalists for decades, and I was fortunate enough to learn the craft alongside some great people, winning a few national awards along the way. At the same time, I did work for NBC during the 2010 Olympics, The Vancouver Sun, The Tyee, and Maclean’s On Campus.
After graduating, I worked for The Province newspaper for six months, writing multiple stories a day and falling in love with the daily grind of local news. After that, I decided that the TV news business (and not worrying about the next round of inevitable buyouts) would be an interesting challenge. I worked for Global BC from 2012 to 2016, and then decided to take the jump to the CBC, Canada’s public broadcaster.
Mostly, I’ll use this site to talk about things that interest me which have nothing to do with the news cycle. Once in a while, I may do that thing where journalists talk about journalism, but mostly I’ll bore you in different ways. Like ranting about awful Disney movies from the 1970s.
Now shoo. Seriously, you have better things to do than stare at the digital representation of my narcissism for any longer than this.
Would it not be interesting if Alberta starting to play hard ball with BC. Consumers not purchasing items made in BC. Perhaps albertans not holiday in BC. What if the flow of oil slows down so that the mainland had to ration fuel. What happened to the concept of Canadians pulling together for the greater good of the country. We, as a country, are being held hostage by the green movement. We are losing billions of dollars in revenue that fund schools hospitals etc. We can’t keep taxing the corporations before they take their investments to other countries. I hope Alberta does retaliate if Kinder Morgans permits are slowed down. We need the jobs and the country needs the revenue.
Hi Justin. When did Mission stop being a city? I was born there in 1951 and it says Mission City right on my birth certificate.
I read your article on the protest of locating modular buildings in Marpole to shelter the homeless in the winter months.
I applaud the City of Vancouver for proposing this solution,but on looking at the picture of the protesters, I realized
that some of them, if not all, are partially responsible for the homeless situation, caused by rising rents and real estate values created by “new” Canadians and off shore buyers.
I also believe they are more worried about the value of their homes by bringing homeless people to their neighborhood
and are using the proximity to an elementary school as a smoke screen.
Apparently the homeless people will be monitored and cared for by social workers and will not present a threat to children.
I hope the City of Vancouver does not bow to their demands as it appears nowadays the visual minorities always
get the upper hand.
At the present time ,Justin, I am out of the country but I read the CBC news daily to keep in touch and will look forward
to more of your columns
hey man, I love that you’re doing this, and I love the Kids in the Hall. But KITH is an American HBO show that CBC bought.
Read your story about kids commuting to school with great interest. For those of us who went to elementary school in the 60s walking to school was a way of life unless you had a bicycle. You walked with your friends trading stories and making plans. Surely that’s better than being dropped off 5 minutes before class half asleep. I’m not sure I buy into the “dangerous world out there” theory. Why can’t we teach them to walk facing traffic, look both ways before crossing and don’t talk to strangers. Worked for my generation.
I think that Mayor Robertson’s bank account should undergo a forensic type audit before he leaves office and starts collecting his huge City of Vancouver pension.
Justin good reporting but you missed the opportunity to hammer Robertson on the cities direct impact to housing costs And affordability
Currently in Vancouver over 30% of the purchase price of a new condo is directly attributed to the city charges such as DCC CAC etc
These have dramatically increased under his term
The simple cost formula for costing is one third land, one third building and the last city charges
He keeps blaming the Feds and Province when in fact he has been the major culprit
Hear you are off to Ucluelet.
We drove there from Newfoundland in 1972. It has changed a bit since, but still serves as the community where working tofitians live, there are still fishing industry installations and now there is a whole range of tourist accommodations.
Two weeks ago was our latest in many visits since we moved west 25 years ago.
The Wild Pacific Trail is remarkable and all hikers are blown away by their first visit! The aquarium is absolutely wonderful, even for a jaded marine scientist! The food experience at Norwoods etc is incredible.
Of course a visit to Torino Brewing is essential on any afternoon!
We cannot drive or camp on the beach like the first time, but not a great loss.
We cannot drink through a disposable straw, but surely a leadership position. Remember a little bit of cash so you can buy your cleanable steel straw.
Hi Justin, what is your email address? Having some issues up here in Mount Waddington district with our representative posting racist posts on Facebook. Would like to send you screenshots. Thanks, Wendy Davis, Sointula, BC
Hi Justin, you may not remember me well but we spent a good amount of time together as kids; my name is Nick McDonald. In particular I remember you kicking my butt at preteen wrestling matches.
I heard you this morning on CBC and looked you up, I’m intrigued with your website already and will be checking out your work. You must have worked very hard to get where you are.
GZ – Nick
I believe it was your work that Daybreak South reported on this morning.
I note your article on the CBC news website states the promise to “Complete Highway 1 upgrades to the Alberta border” is “ongoing”. I would argue that this is an EXTREMELY GENEROUS judgement of the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure’s performance on one of her main ministerial mandate priorities. Major projects announced by the previous government have been delayed and are still waiting to be put out to contract. For example Kicking Horse Canyon Phase 4 was supposed to go to contract in the spring of last year and start construction this spring. That contract still hasn’t gone out to tender, just as Chase West and Salmon Arm West haven’t (some preliminary work on the latter is being done – but the main contract hasn’t been put out to tender). Half way into this term the government has only announced one new project to upgrade the Quartz Creek bridge (with no details of start or end dates). Curiously an upgrade on that bridge was only completed last year – maybe that work revealed structural problems or perhaps someone realized that it was finally time to deal with one of the highway’s many serious accident black spots.
I believe that a major factor in the delay is the time taken to set up BC Infrastructure Benefits Inc to enforce the Community Benefits Agreement on these highway construction projects. One highway project has (very recently) been contracted under that agreement – the Illicillewaet Brake Check upgrade that was supposed to start work in 2017! (I do realize that at least some of that delay must be the responsibility of the previous government.) BC Infrastructure Benefits Inc is also a responsibility of the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure.
A couple of years ago Global News reported that a section of the Trans-Canada Highway was the ‘most lethal highway in the province’ based on their analysis of ICBC fatal accident data. However I sadly understand that this is a peripheral issue (if even that important) in the population centres of the Lower Mainland and Southern Island and, as such, a trivial issue for our politicians and journalists.
Despite my disappointment on this issue, thanks for your otherwise valuable work on analyzing the government’s performance. If you want more information on the failure to upgrade the Trans-Canada (by either provincial party or federal government) I would be happy to help – I have plenty of evidence!
——– Forwarded Message ——–
Subject: Broken election promises
Date: Thu, 30 May 2019 08:08:53 -0700
From: Nick Thomas
Trying to find the list of election promises you discussed this morning on the internet.
Disappointed that there was no mention in your report of the broken promise to ‘accelerate’ upgrades to the Trans-Canada Highway between Kamloops to the Alberta Border. I guess this highlights that the appalling carnage on the highway sadly isn’t an issue in the places that matter – i.e. population centers where the votes are. All this government has achieved so far is to delay upgrades announced by the previous government. This seems to be because of the time taken to set up BC Infrastructure Benefits Inc to enforce the Community Benefits Agreement on contracts for upgrade projects.
If you remember you did a review of the video “infomercial” made by Mayor Morden of Maple Ridge……would you like to do more of a follow up as to what is happening in our community….really bad!
In the early ‘90,s I took a charter fishing tip out of Kitamat. We overnighted at Hartley Bay and the next morning headed out to the south west. Needing a bio break, we stopped at an island and upon going ashore we found a grave yard that was not on any marine charts. There were about 10 graves with the oldest grave marker indicating that the person had died about 1867 and the most recent was of a child that died about 1906. All of the names appeared to be those of Russian settlers and this was further indicated by the Russian orthodox cross on one of the grave markers.
My question is “Why is there no record of Russian settlements along the BC coast?” and why is there no history (at least as far as I has been able to find) of any settlements?
I am saddened to think that this tiny grave yard will disappear without a trace or any remebrance of their existence when we seem to bend over backwards for every other historical group of early settlers.
Hello Justin, Interesting stats on the state of reserves for BC municipalities in your article over the last week. I wondered if you had ever looked at if certain villages should consolidate with the cities close to them to save money and gain efficiencies with a larger base of not only city staff but other resources like pools, libraries etc. I see you quoted Belcarra, interesting why a small village with no commercial businesses, no industry doesn’t consolidate with Port Moody as an example, instead of asking the government for hand outs.
Hi Justin – I just read your article on. “Why B.C. is flattening the COVID-19 curve while numbers in central Canada surge”. You are the first journalist who has really dug into the BC CDC numbers and presented a clear question based on actual measurement. Thank you. I encourage to keep digging into those raw numbers, as there are a number of interesting correlations. A couple of questions I ask: are BC hospitals actually at capacity for covid? If we continue at the rate we are going (with the current social distancing protocols), how long will it take covid to make its way through the population? How long can BC or Canada deal with 14% unemployment rates, grants and deferrals?
Thanks again – keep up the good work.
Justin: Look up the word ‘fulsome’ in a good dictionary.
I enjoy the reporting..
Read your newly updated CBC article “COVID-19 in British Columbia By The Numbers”
Fantastic job! Finally a journalist with the ability to investigate.
I was getting weary of the reports taken from the daily briefings of our BC minister and health officer. Most reporters have been only restating what these officials already said. Very lazy journalism, no one caring to ask the tough questions.
But your report dug deeper and got past the smoke screen. BC officials have long been saying they are leading the country in testing, patting themselves on the back during this crisis. But your report revealed that this is simply not true. BC is testing less than many other provinces.
No wonder we have low numbers of people testing positive for the virus. We simply test less.
Thank you for your efforts to put this article together. It took more than just restating what the officials said during a daily briefing. It took investigative prowess. We need more of that.
Alberta claims it wants to triple its testing capacity by the end of the month. If that strategy reveals even more people testing positive, I suspect BC officials will pat themselves on the back again, foolishly thinking BC’s lower numbers are due to their strategies instead of simply being because of their horribly low test numbers.
Please consider comparing BC with our neighbouring provinces Alberta and Saskatchewan even more. Ontario and Quebec are so far away, they might as well be in another country.
Dear Justin McElroy,
Thank you for consistently providing information and clarifications on the unfolding health and government policies regarding Covid 19.
I am contacting you because I am very worried as I watch local governments implementing policies which discriminate against seniors’ and disabled citizens’ right to access. I am hoping that you will be interested in this issue and present it in your coverage.
I want to point out that up to now—and as we begin to ‘open up’, policies and practices— implementations by local governments have been negligent of the needs and rights of those requiring vehicles to benefit from being outdoors. Policies have been created to support the closing of streets to provide better access and outdoor space for pedestrians and bicycles, without consideration of the needs of people with compromised abilities.
In the past week I have unsuccessfully attempted to access Spanish Banks, Sunset Beach and Stanley Park. The parking lots are closed and that includes spaces for disabled parking. Street parking is packed or unavailable. While so many are giving voice to the importance of outdoor activity, this is a vulnerable constituency that is not being considered. Historically these citizens have fought hard and long for the right to access which is now being lost. I do feel like a second class citizen today.
As the discussion moves toward ‘opening up’ I have heard officials (Malcolm Bromley) and reporters (Andre Picard on The Current) extol the success and benefits of street closures and express an interest if continuing and expanding those. All policy-making must consider the needs of access of all citizens.
Thank you for your attention and, again, for the work that you do.
Hi Justin, I just saw your article on the VSB wait list on kindergarten this year. My daughter is starting kindergarten in the Richmond school district this year and the waitlist at our catchment school, Tomsett, is 80 people long last time I checked. 120 applications for 40 spots! This is much worse than the VSB. We have basically given up on all hope. We bought a property right in front of the school entrace just so she can walk to school but that’s not happening. I will be doing an interview on this with Richmond News journalist and I was hoping maybe you can help us in the Richmond school district to be heard as well. There are 5 or 6 schools with waitlist in Richmond but I’m not sure how long the other schools are.
Just wondering if you ever call in to daily briefings with Dr. Henry, PHO. I am trying to figure out when diagnostic (face to face) assessments for young children suspected of Autism might happen again. If you don’t call in, do you have any suggestions of other reporters I could contact to try and get a question in.
Read your story today on cases deaths and new cases but you’re missing one very critical point on the graph and that is the number of tests correlation between tests and cases would be an interesting point for you to point out to us. By implying the number of cases are hitting all time highs without explaining the case to testing ratio you are creating a fear mongering article , why ? You seem like a smart enough guy that you would understand the comparisons between testing and cases and deaths
See this https://ourworldindata.org/coronavirus-data. The impact is far less when you include all the data the death rate is way down to almost 0 because this flu season is over, the number of cases has a big question mark On it.
The testing kits that they are using to diagnose cases of coronavirus are picking up any fragments of any kind of coronavirus or T cells or immune cells that indicate that there may have been coronavirus in this person before. This is entirely possible since coronaviruses have been around for At least 30 years or more. I am hoping the lid is going to come off of this way of reporting, it’s almost a form of lying to create sensation, Not to mention fear.
We have concerns with your ranking of the Canadian Heritage Minutes from 2017. Expect a reply from us.
xoxo, the Minute Women
Love your Twitter feed!
I’m curious if you’ve tried to report a Covid violation through proper channels on a Friday night yet. I just spent 30 minutes being told to dial various numbers by COV & VPD machines & operators. I eventually lied to a VPD automated machine (I opted for “property crime” since the “Covid violation” option told me to call a COV number where operators told me to call the VPD’s 717 number) in order to speak to someone able to hear my complaint and do something.
Everyone was lovely – but glitches in the system defeated all of us. Is that a story for you or your colleagues?
Sorry to be a negative nelly! I really do enjoy your work and look forward to more of it!
I only signed up to WordPress to say that I like your bio. I find it very funny!
Nice to meet you!
Hey Justin. Just heard Stephen Quinn’s interview with you on CBC this morning. Very cool work you do, especially the data and visualization. Would love to swap viz ideas some time.
Any idea why a family member was able to vote last week at 100Mile House. I understood advanced polling for the federal election didn’t start until today.
I appreciated that you shared about your Autism. People feel encouraged when they hear a public person speak about a mental affliction and realize they needn’t be defined or limited by it but can have very meaningful careers like yours regardless of personal challenges.
Thanks for your work on the False Creek story.
The narrative saying False Creek is a model from the 1970s that needs to be upgraded is unusual considering that the rest of the city is an urban model from the 1870s—False Creek is one of the most modern urban designs in the city! Mostly car free, alternative transportation, mixed density, mixed income, mixed tenure type False Creek is way ahead of the grid system with alleyways that is such a waste of space that prioritizes the automobile. And the ‘old’ buildings are, by the CoV’s admission, still in good shape. Are we saying the same thing about the design of the neighbourhoods and the age of the homes in Strathcona, Kitsilano, Dunbar and Shaugnessey that are built in the 1970’s?
Just note my email address is HKRAY@hotmail.com I don’t use this site but had to log in to send you the question. So please respond there or you can text 604 369 4517 if you prefer..
Thanks in advance
Can you do a re-cap of how Geoff Meggs waved a magic wand and poof – it was declared the viaducts to be coming down and the land sold. I don’t recall a referendum. I don’t recall too much of a fight. I don’t recall anything official. It was just Geoff Meggs pre-selling the future.
I was looking to vote for my municipality on Vancouver Island, and to my horror saw that we have been forgotten. How could you have possibly overlooked “The Highlands” a municipality part of the CRD on Southern Vancouver Island. And no doubt the winner of the BC small town contest if we were on the list
I’m from Sun Peaks — we are a true small community, with about 1,500 people living here year round and likely another 500 true ‘snowbirds’ who spend their winters here. We have a really a nice mix of young entrepreneurs and active early retirees. We’ve grown from less than 50 people in1995 to 1404 in the last census and even more today.
We are proud to have built a real community with a fire department, first responders, we’ve built and are still funding a Community Health Centre (with family doctors) and have160 children and teenagers going to school here from Kindergarten to Grade 12. Our classrooms are all portables, but we hope to get a real school sometime soon.
We have a very active Rotary Club, book clubs, sports clubs, a golf course, tennis courts, fitness centre and a skating rink. We even have a a multi-denominational chapel on the mountain.
Our municipality was formed in 2010 and the mayor and council have been very busy with all kinds of infrastructure projects. Like other communities in BC we struggle with affordable housing, especially since everything is new here. Our council is working on finding solutions since we know how important it is for young people to find a way to be able to afford to live here.
Our main business is tourism, so we have lots of restaurants, shops and of course hotels and other lodging. We also have a grocery store, liquor store, pharmacy, deli, hairdresser, spas as well as a variety of shops and restaurants and bars. We have an active arts community as well, and many of our businesses proudly display their artwork.
When Covid hit, many of our young workers were laid off overnight and the community stepped up, forming a new group ‘Sun Peaks Community Helps’ to make sure they could get food and other help.
Last summer, even with a forest fire nearby, we reached out and offered lodging to people displaced from other wildfires.
Your comments on twitter accusing Sun Peaks of voter fraud are very hurtful. Yes, we are a popular ski destination for tourists from around the world. And yes, they are voting for us, because the reason they return year after year is that they feel very welcome when they visit and have become connected to our community.
Please accept this personal invitation to come for a vist, and you will see why those of us who have made Sun Peaks our home, are proud and passionate about our community.
Sincerely, Nancy Raine
Justin, could/would you please let me know which Cranbrook councillor or Mayor made the comment about school kids being taught to take drugs in school as you tweeted from UBCM coverage??
These mayors all lost reelection
1.Bob Simpson, Quesnel
2.Walter Cobb, Williams Lake
3.Gary Foster, Northern Rockies
4.Lorraine Michetti, Pouce Coupe
5.Olsen Kris, Daajing Glids
6.Bob Motion, Fort St. James
7.Greg McCune, Enderby
8.Colin Basran, Kelowna
9.Cindy Fortin, Peachland
10.John Vassilaki, Penticton
11.Santo Talarico, Cache Creek
12.Susan Swan, Clinton
13.Terry Rysz, Sicamous
14.Linda Brown, Merritt
15.Barry Noll, Greenwood
16.Martin Fromme, Midway
17.John Dooley, Nelson
18.Lisa Pasin, Trail
19.Lee Pratt, Cranbrook
20.Ange Qualizza, Fernie
21.Val van den Broek, Langley (City)
22.Ron Mclaughlin, Lions Bay
23.Mike Morden, Maple Ridge
24.Doug McCallum, Surrey
25.Kennedy Stewart, Vancouver
26.Mary-Ann Booth, West Vancouver
27.Darryl Walker, White Rock
28.Leslie Baird, Cumberland
29.Brad Unger, Gold River
30.Ed Mayne, Parksville
31.Gaby Wickstrom, Port McNeil
32.Brian Wiese, Qualicum Beach
33.Darnelda Siegers, Sechelt
34.Rob Martin, Colwood
35.Bob Day, Lake Cowichan
36.Stewart Young, Langford
37.Fred Haynes, Saanich
38.David Screech, View Royal
by my count, 108 mayors ran for
reelection, so over 1/3 were defeated. Of course, some of the reelected mayors were either acclamed or faced only poor quality challengers.
Of the 30 largest cities in Vancouver (population 30,000+) the mayors of Kelowna, Penticton, Langley (city), Maple Ridge, Surrey, Vancouver, Saanich and Langford all lost reelection.
That should say, of course, of the 30 largest cities in British Columbia. – Adam Tondowsky (136or142)
Hey just how can I get hold of you
Hi Justin, wonder if you’ve ranked Canadian Butters? Let’s chat if you get a moment. Looking forward to it!
Trying to copy you in on a letter set to Muni Affairs re proper monitoring of the operation of Municipalities; not on twitter. If you send me yr email, I can forward it to you. Am sending it to a number of journalists. Trying to help, but cannot find yr email. Only one way communication?! Cheers, Peter