VANCOUVER — Officials with the Artificial Reef Society of B.C. say the sea floor is adapting well six months after the sinking of a decommissioned Canadian warship in Howe Sound, north of Vancouver.
HMCS Annapolis went down amid controversy in Halkett Bay off Gambier Island in April, ending years of legal battles from critics who argued paint on the ship's hull contained toxic chemicals.
Howard Robbins, the president of the artificial reef society, says those worries appear unfounded and the ship is living up to its environmental goal.
Rockfish stocks have been declining in Georgia Strait, but Robbins says some of the small, spiny fish have already been spotted nosing around the Annapolis.
He says the old ship is also becoming increasingly popular with divers, closing the loop on a circle route for scuba fans that includes the HMCS Chaudiere in Sechelt Inlet, and several ships near Nanaimo.
In all, the artificial reef society has sunk seven vessels in B.C. waters. (CKAY)
The Canadian Press
MILTON KEYNES, England — France became the first team through to the Rugby World Cup quarterfinals after scoring five tries in a 41-18 win against Canada in their Pool D match on Thursday.
Veteran lock Pascal Pape got the all-important fourth try and the bonus point that France —runner-up four years ago to New Zealand — needed to reach the last eight.
France will be aiming to beat Ireland in its last game to secure top spot in Pool D and avoid a likely showdown with the All Blacks in the quarterfinals.
Despite the fulltime score, it was a somewhat patchy performance from France and the only safe bet was the accurate kicking of veteran flyhalf Frederic Michalak.
The 32-year-old Michalak converted the first four tries and added two penalties on his way to becoming his country's all-time World Cup scorer with 136 points. He made his World Cup debut in 2003.
Michalak went off near the end and was replaced by Morgan Parra, a mainstay from the 2011 squad, who then helped to set up winger Remy Grosso for a try on his test debut as Canada played the last 10 minutes with 14 players after Nanyak Dala was sin-binned.
France coach Philippe Saint-Andre will be pleased with a fifth straight win, but will be seeking answers as to why his team switched off in the first half.
The French appeared to be in complete control at 17-0 after tries from
Left winger DTH Van Der Merwe crossed out wide and hooker Aaron Carpenter bulldozed over the creaking French line on the right.
That stirred France back into action.
The French won a penalty at the end of the half, but Michalak chose an attacking lineout instead of a shot at goal. The move paid off, the French rolling maul proved too good and prop Rabah Slimani ducked in to pad out the lead to 24-12.
Jerome Pugmire, The Associated Press
CALGARY — ATB Financial is forecasting that Alberta's economy will contract in 2015 — a more pessimistic view than in early July when the regional financial services group said the province would likely avoid a recession this year.
"After five consecutive years of exceptionally strong growth, it now appears certain that Alberta's economy will contract in 2015," the bank wrote in its fourth-quarter outlook released Thursday.
The provincially owned bank predicts real GDP contraction of 0.7 per cent in 2015 before the economy gets out of its slump and grows 1.4 per cent in 2016.
That compares with real GDP growth of 4.4 per cent in 2014, when oil and gas prices were much higher.
ATB says the drop in oil prices is the "single reason" for the economic challenges as prices have fallen to about US$45 a barrel at present from more than US$100 in the summer of 2014.
The drop in oil prices has caused energy companies to drastically cut costs, leading to further job losses as well as reductions in both wages and overtime hours.
ATB is predicting that the unemployment rate will rise to 5.9 per cent this year from 4.7 per cent last year before improving slightly to 5.7 per cent next year.
The bank says it expects the North American benchmark price for oil to trade around US$45 to US$50 a barrel for the rest of 2015, rising only moderately to between US$55 to US$60 by mid-to-late 2016.
Indicators outside the oil and gas industry have shown more stability, with the bank saying residential construction was solid, retail and wholesale trade has stabilized and manufacturing has levelled off.
The report says that agriculture, the Alberta's second-largest sector, had disappointing crop production this year due to drought in some parts of the province, while forestry remains in good shape thanks to strong prices for lumber.
For the economy to recover, the bank says oil prices would need to rebound at least a little, labour costs would have to rebalance and sectors outside the energy industry such as agriculture, forestry and tourism need to see strong performances. As well, the Canadian dollar needs to stay low to help exporters.
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Ian Bickis, The Canadian Press