Peel Regional Police are investigating after an American flag was burned outside a family home in Mississauga. The entire ordeal was caught on video. Morganne Campbell reports.
Peel Regional Police are investigating after an American flag was burned outside a family home in Mississauga. The entire ordeal was caught on video. Morganne Campbell reports.
Government and election officials frequently call on shredding companies to dispose of personal and sensitive documents that are no longer needed.But in a suburban county of Atlanta this week, those routine waste removal appointments were twisted into yet another election misinformation story when social media users falsely claimed shredding trucks were destroying ballots and “evidence of voter fraud.”The unfounded allegations continue to spread online as Georgia officials carry out a machine recount of ballots after certified results showed Joe Biden had a 12,670-vote lead over President Donald Trump. Trump requested the recount, which follows a statewide hand tally.L. Lin Wood Jr., a conservative attorney who had unsuccessfully sued in an attempt to block the certification of Georgia’s election results, on Tuesday shared a series of videos taken by a Georgia resident. They showed a shredding truck outside the West Park Government Center in Marietta.“Evidence of voter fraud is being destroyed in Cobb County, GA TODAY,” Wood captioned one of his tweets. “Many people, powerful & not so powerful, are going to PRISON.”The real explanation for the truck’s visit was far less scandalous: a routine shredding of county tax documents.The county tax commissioner’s office, which shares a building with the county’s main elections office, has documents shredded twice a month, according to Ross Cavitt, communications director for the county.“No items from Cobb Elections were involved,” Cavitt told The Associated Press in an email.The false claims built on similar rumours from last week, when the same Georgia resident captured photos and video of a truck destroying election-related waste outside the Jim R. Miller Event Center in Marietta and claimed it was evidence of “ballots being shredded.”After Wood amplified those photos and videos on Friday, Cobb County officials refuted the claim, explaining that the shredding company was summoned to destroy non-relevant election materials, as happens after all elections.“Everything of consequence, including the ballots, absentee ballot applications with signatures, and anything else used in the count or re-tally remains on file,” Janine Eveler, the county’s director of elections and voter registration, said in a statement.Some of the photos shared on Friday appeared to show a trash can with a paper labeled “ABSENTEE BALLOT” inside. But Eveler said that was an inner privacy envelope used by voters to seal absentee ballots, and had “no evidentiary value.” County officials will hold on to the actual absentee ballots, as well as the outer envelopes signed by voters, for two years.Wood did not respond to a telephone call and email seeking comment.Despite the county’s responses, Wood’s tweets with the debunked claims continued to receive massive engagement on Wednesday, collectively amassing more than 200,000 retweets. And a separate Facebook user’s post falsely claiming a shredding company was “hired by Democrats” to destroy evidence was viewed nearly 150,000 times.County officials told the AP they have not seen any evidence of fraud or anomalies in vote tabulation in the 2020 election.“People nowadays, they post stuff immediately without asking any questions and without any proper context, and it spreads like wildfire,” Cavitt said of the false claims.Jude Joffe-Block And Ali Swenson, The Associated Press
By Spencer Seymour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter Following Chief Administrative Officer Brent Kittmer's overall summary of the draft budget and some of its key elements, it was Town Treasurer Andre Morin's turn to speak more specifically on the high-level aspects of the 2021 draft capital budget. It is important to note that this is still a draft budget, meaning the budget is not finalized yet. With that in mind, this will give you a glimpse at how the 2021 budget is beginning to take shape. Morin began his presentation by noting that it's expected that revenues across the board will be down in 2021, due mainly to the COVID-19 pandemic. These revenues that are expected to decrease include the largest, fees and charges, as well as ice rentals, rents and leases, and sales. Morin also pointed out that the carry-over from the 2020 Safe Restart funding the Town has yet to spend is about $250,000, which will help cover the extra costs and lost revenues. The draft capital budget also reflects several increases in expenses for the Town. The first that Morin touched on was an increased investment in the community safety and policing plan, as well as parks patrol. The expense increase for those areas is approximately $45,000. Most of the other increases proposed in the budget are spread over other departments within the municipality and are fairly standard and routine. The Town is seeing an increase in debenture payments in 2021, but not as large of an increase as they likely expected. The net increase of about $68,000 is largely due to an increase in debenture payments related to the fire hall, but there is also a debenture payment related to wastewater services that is coming off the books. The materials and services line of the budget did reflect a large increase of $140,000, however, that is largely due to its reflection of additional costs brought on by the pandemic. Lastly, an increase in salary and wages is also included in the budget, and the Council asked Town staff to report back later on the implications of a 1.5 percent increase in salary and wages. Morin then touched on the tax increase for St. Marys residents, which, thanks in no small part to the Town's handling of the pandemic, is not going to be as substantial as other municipalities. The net tax levy, according to Morin, will result in the average St. Marys resident paying approximately 0.82 percent more in taxes. Morin also said that the Town is projecting a 0.97 percent increase for the average municipal dwelling, as well as increases of between 2-2.5 percent for water and wastewater services. No increase is predicted for garbage and recycling wheelie bin services.Spencer Seymour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, St. Marys Independent
Trying to make sense of the shakeup at city hall? It's a bit of a puzzle, but a comparison of the old and new organizational charts - aided by a memo from acting city manager Walter Babicz that was leaked to CKPG - provides a certain amount of clarity. In essence, one half of a department has been scrapped and another has taken on a significantly bigger workload under a COVID-induced revamping at city hall. At its centre, the infrastructure and services department is being eliminated and replaced, in part, with a new civic operations department that will take on five divisions largely related to the public works side of its predecessor: transportation and technical services, project delivery (previously named infrastructure delivery), parks and solid waste, roads and fleet, and utilities. With the move, the old department's general manager, Dave Dyer, has gone into retirement and public works director Gina Layte Liston and infrastructure services director Adam Homes are no longer on the payroll. In turn, the planning and development department has been renamed the planning, development and infrastructure services department and has taken on two divisions previously under infrastructure and services - asset management and infrastructure and planning and engineering. As well, Babicz said in the memo that the environmental services division, previously part of infrastructure and services, has been reduced and split between civic operations through its utilities division, and the development services division within the planning, development and infrastructure services department. The bylaw services division, meanwhile, has been moved to the community services and public safety department from planning, development and infrastructure services department, while the financial services department has taken on the financial management functions for both the community services and public safety department and the old infrastructure services department. In an email, city spokesperson Mike Kellett confirmed that in addition to their roles as acting city manager and acting deputy city manager, Babicz and Ian Wells will continue as the heads, respectively, of the administrative services and planning, development, and infrastructure services departments. Blake McIntosh, who has been manager of the roads and fleet division, is acting director of the civic operations department, while Kris Dalio remains head of finance, Adam Davey head of community services and public safety and Rae Ann Emery head of human resources, now known as human resources and corporate safety. And strategic Initiatives and partnerships, which is led by Chris Bone, now reports to Wells in planning, development, and infrastructure services. Babicz has said the changes were made to reduce costs in the face of a major hit to revenue due to the pandemic. He has declined to say publicly who has lost their jobs as a result but in an emailed statement to the Citizen early this month, he did say six management and four unionized positions were eliminated. One of the management positions was to be refilled and one of the unionized jobs was vacant prior to the changes. Exactly how much savings they will deliver will be known as part of a bigger presentation staff will make to council's finance and audit committee meeting on December 7 at city hall.Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince George Citizen
TEMAGAMI – Victims and Survivors of Crime Awareness Week is taking place across the district this week. Victim Services Temiskaming and District have set this year’s theme as “Recognizing Courage, Renewing Commitment,” and the initiative will run from November 22 to November 28. The initiative is “a time to raise awareness about the services, programs and laws in place to help victims and their families,” said Monique Chartrand, executive director for Victim Services Temiskaming and District in a statement. Victim Services flags will be flown in honour of victims and survivors this week at the OPP detachments in Kirkland Lake, Englehart, Temiskaming and Temagami. The Temagami OPP Detachment hosted a flag presentation on Monday, November 23, with Victim Services board chair Dan Dawson, Chartrand, program coordinator Patty Burke and Superintendent Jon Dumond from the North Bay regional OPP headquarters. The Temagami Police Services was represented by board members Gerry Stroud and Debbie Morrow. Also in attendance was Inspector Joel Breault of the Temiskaming Detachment who stressed the importance of victims of crime “having the services available to get the help they need for themselves and their families.” He also noted that all members of the OPP are appreciative of the great support and assistance provided by Victim Services of Temiskaming and District. Chartrand added that if additional support is ever needed, people can call Victim Services Temiskaming and District at 705-647-0096 or 705-568-2154. “We always have a listening ear and we will ensure that the necessary services and supports are in place to assist victims of crime and tragic circumstances across our communities,” said Chartrand. “We are dedicated to see them move forward in their healing journey. When we support each other, incredible things happen.” Victim Services Temiskaming and District says it also has received a grant from the Department of Justice Canada for a park bench that will be dedicated to victims and survivors of crime in Temiskaming, which will be located in the park across from Kal Tire and will be installed in 2021. Another park bench will be dedicated to victims and survivors of crime in Kirkland Lake. That bench will be located at Kinross Park and also installed in 2021. Proclamations have been sent to municipal officials to formally proclaim the week for victims, survivors and their families. Victim Services also will have public awareness spotlights on its Facebook page for daily $25 President’s Choice gift cards, which will be drawn every day during the week. They are asking that you like, follow and share the Facebook page.Jamie Mountain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temiskaming Speaker
Crowsnest Pass councillors engaged in a lengthy discussion concerning rent rates for municipal facilities during the Nov. 17 council meeting. In 2018, a standard annual fee for renting the MDM Community Centre was set for all new and existing leases. That rate was set for $6.61 per square foot for 2020. In order to level the playing field throughout the municipality, council determined during its Jan. 14, 2020 governance and priorities committee meeting to apply the $6.61 rate as an annual fee to all organizations renting municipal facilities. Administration was directed to contact each affected group before standardizing the rates, and a five-year time frame for groups to work up to the $6.61 rate was established. Mayor Blair Painter brought the issue back for council’s discussion after the Crowsnest Pass Pistol Club contacted him with concerns over the expected increase to its rental rates for the Elks Hall in Blairmore. The club is currently negotiating a new lease with the municipality. The club’s rental rate was set at $1.70 per square foot for 2017, 2018 and 2019. To reach the standard $6.61 rate within the established time frame, the pistol club would be required to increase its annual rate payment by $1,800 a year to an annual rental fee that would amount to about $13,000. “I think it was our intention that we all agreed that we needed to come up with an even playing field for everybody, but I don’t think we need to go to today’s standard commercial rates for renting in the Crowsnest Pass,” Mayor Painter said. “These are not groups that are commercial. They’re not selling goods, they’re not making a profit.” Expecting the pistol club to reach the standardized rate within five years was unreasonable, he continued, and would put additional stress on the club’s finances since it wasn't able to collect any revenue from its annual guns show. Though the club’s reserves will cover costs this year, long-term operations with the increased rent would require doubling its $100 membership fee. Not all of council, however, was overly concerned with the prospect of pistol club members facing increased dues. “In order for my children to play hockey, I pay $400 a child to use the facility in the municipality that is subsidized by the taxpayer,” Coun. Lisa Sygutek said. “It’s not really fair for kids’ families to be paying $400 to play a sport and then a group of adult people paying $100. I have a bit of a problem with that.” She suggested the pistol club could take a page out of the minor hockey association’s play book and apply for casino shifts or fundraise in other ways. Expecting the club to jump from about $3,000 a year in rent to $13,000, she continued, was also an issue. “I also have a problem with the fact that we’re going to throw it down and say you gotta pay $13,000. That’s a big number,” she said. As such, Coun. Sygutek said the pistol club could come before council to ask for assistance in addition to whatever fundraising efforts it secured on its own. Such an arrangement, said manager of community services Trent Smith, had always been part of the intention behind the rental rate, and the five-year time frame was meant to be a flexible target to aim for. “Administration in no means was trying to shove a five-year lease down their throat,” he said. “If they needed to come to council and ask for 10 years, we would happily sit down and ask council and decide that.” As part of those discussions, Mr. Smith continued, the topic of fundraising was brought up, as well as looking at what financial options other small-town gun clubs pursued. “At no time was administration saying, ‘Hey, you must.’ We were saying, ‘Hey, if this doesn't work, we’ll come back and talk to council. And then communication went dead,” said Mr. Smith. Though certainly a jump from the pistol club’s $1.70 rate, Coun. Dean Ward said the $6.61 amount was agreed upon earlier in the year by council because about half of the community groups were paying rental fees near $6 a square foot. The pistol group’s rent, he added, had also been largely unchanged for close to 20 years. “If we cut these rates, we’re going to have to come up with $30,000 from somewhere else,” said Coun. Ward. “I have no problem phasing somebody in over time, but these groups are all earning, they’re all begging for money, they’re all working hard … selling vegetables, selling chocolates, to pay their bills. “It’s a sad situation when nine groups are paying one rate and one group is paying 20 per cent of that rate.” Beyond the pistol club’s concerns, Coun. Dave Filipuzzi expressed concern that the current rent arrangement would add financial strain to community groups already grappling with fallout from the pandemic. “If we continue to stress these groups out, we won’t have them. I think it’s fairly important we find a way to solve this problem; it’s good to accommodate these groups to stay a part of our community and be part of our community. I don’t want to lose these groups, any one of them,” he said. Expecting every group to conform to one amount, added Coun. Doreen Glavin, was also unfair. “Different groups have different resources in order for them to run and operate, and it isn't fair to say we’re going to standardize,” she said. “I think it comes down to what each group ... has for resources themselves in order to operate or pay for leases.” Backtracking on the $6.61 rate to accommodate groups, Coun. Sygutek responded, was the right way to respond. “We accepted that, we agreed with it. We can’t go back now and say, ‘Hey, you know, we made a mistake,’ and go to every one of those groups and lower their rent. I don’t think that’s an option,” said Coun. Sygutek. “But I do think it’s an option for them to come to us and ask for funding help.” Council eventually accepted two motions: the first directed administration to reach out to the Crowsnest Pass Pistol Club and see what options could be arranged for the $6.61 rate to be eventually met, and the second directed administration to notify the other nine groups paying the rate to approach council for assistance if they are facing financial hardships. The second motion, said Coun. Marlene Anctil, was especially important. “There are a lot of groups that we don’t know the positions they’re in right now who are struggling, so let’s notify every group and see what comes back to us,” she said.Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze
ESKASONI, N.S. — An Eskasoni Red Tribe boxing card has been postponed until further notice because of the recent rise in COVD-19 cases in the province. “Things can be moved around and rescheduled, but a life can’t be rescheduled, we have to look out for our safety,” said Barry Bernard, Eskasoni Red Tribe boxing owner and coach. The card was originally scheduled for Dec. 5 at the Sarah Denny Cultural Centre in Eskasoni and would have featured 14 amateur bouts with fighters from across New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Because of the increase in active COVID-19 cases in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, Bernard thought it best to reschedule. The card would have excluded audience members but would have been streamed on YouTube and the Eskasoni television channel. The main event fighters would have been Oromocto Boxing Club’s Josh Melvin and Eskasoni’s Israel Regalado. The 20-year-old Regalado made his boxing debut in October during the Lights Out drive-in boxing card which saw audience members watching the fights from the safety of their cars while the fights streamed on a 30-foot screen. Regalado won that fight against Crandall University boxer Jacob MacCallum. Headlining a card would have been special but Regalado understands safety comes first. “In the beginning, I was kind of sad but then when I thought about it, it was the best option we had,” said Regalado. The young man identifies as half-Aboriginal and half-Spanish and grew up in both Eskasoni and Guatemala. He spends most of his days training and says it has been his focus. He trained for an entire year before making his amateur debut and was glad to display his skills. Regalado spends most of his time training and with his girlfriend and he thinks boxing in Eskasoni helps keep people grounded. “I feel like it helps young people that don’t know what to do,” said Regalado. And he said he will keep training until the next card is scheduled. It is that drive that impresses his coaches, like Bernard. Bernard says Regalado has a strong character and work ethic and believes headlining a card will mean a lot for his future, something he hopes will happen sooner rather than later. Ideally, he’d like to have the next boxing card in January, but it all depends on the pandemic. “We have to take care of our community first,” said Bernard.Oscar Baker III, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cape Breton Post
By Spencer Seymour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter After several housekeeping items from Mayor Al Strathdee, he gave the floor to Town Treasurer Andre Morin, who began his presentation by introducing Denice Williamson, the new Deputy Treasurer for the Town of St. Marys. Williamson began her new role with the Town back on November 9th of this year and she was invited to sit in and watch the special meeting of the Council to get a feel for how the budget deliberations work and get introduced directly to members of Council themselves. Chief Administrative Officer Brent Kittmer then gave a formal introduction to the 2021 budget deliberations. He noted that this year's budget deliberation is the first as part of the new budget schedule. Council has had more opportunities to discuss high-level aspects of the budget earlier than in previous years, which Kittmer noted has helped Town staff be better positioned to present a better version of the draft budget to Council. At the direction of Council, Town staff are using the remaining funds received by the Safe Restart program to help offset some of the increased costs, so there is less burden on the Town and its residents and businesses. An interesting comment made by the CAO, concerning the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, was the acknowledgment that the Town must find things for residents to do as pandemic fatigue continues to settle in, but that can be done safely and with proper safety measures in place. Additionally, according to Kittmer, the draft budget presented was the "worst-case scenario," meaning the Town is working under the assumption that the community will remain in some level of the pandemic state for the duration of 2021. The reason for this consideration going into the budget deliberations is so that Council can ensure it has what it needs if that worst-case scenario of remaining in some form of lockdown for the entirety of 2021 is realized.Spencer Seymour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, St. Marys Independent
The Goulds Lions Arena bears the Lions name, so it’s only appropriate that its warm room also bear a Lion’s name. During a short ceremony on November 19 attended by family and fellow Lions, the Lion Ron Whitten Room was unveiled. “A few months ago, one of our Lions came to me with a suggestion. He said, ‘We always honour Lions with a plaque or something, after they pass away. Why not do something for our Lions while they’re still alive?’” Goulds Lions Club President Charlie Phillips said to those gathered. So, when Phillips announced that they would be naming the warm room after Lion Ron Whitten, Whitten jokingly asked if that meant he was going to die soon. “Without Ron, I’m not sure if, or when, there would have been a Lion’s Club,” said Phillips. “It was the vision of Lion Ron when he returned from Labrador back in 1975. He had a notion of starting up the Lions Club, which, he did, in March of 1976. He is a well-respected member of our community, and also a well-respected member of our Lions Club. Ron is a strong supporter of the Lions Club and of it’s activities. I’m sure most of you, if we went around the room, could add another 10, 20, 40, maybe a hundred reasons why we should name this room after Lion Ron.” Whitten was grateful for the gesture. “I appreciate this, it’s very nice,” he said. “It’s important to help out the community where you’re from.” During the ceremony, the Goulds Lions Club also presented a $6000 cheque to the Arena Association.Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News
The P.E.I. Fishermen's Association is working with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to recover lobster traps left behind in the Northumberland Strait.Lobster fishing gear can be moved around by storms or by passing ships, and then lost. The traps are known collectively as ghost gear, and they are a problem because they continue to catch lobster in unknown numbers — and that could have an impact on the health of the stock.The project is divided into two parts. The first, already completed, saw 15 volunteer fishermen scanning the waters of the central Northumberland Strait for any visible buoys or lines showing where lost gear might be.The second part digs deeper. PEIFA has borrowed a large grapnel from the Maritime Fishermen's Union. The system of hooks and chains is designed to snare lines or the nets around a trap."We talked to fishers about key areas or hot spots that might have had some gear lost that they weren't able to retrieve," said Jennifer Dewland, administration and funding coordinator with the P.E.I. Fishermen's Association."Any gear that's lying on the bottom, without any buoy lines, if it catches that net or line or anything, it's going to haul [it] up."The hauled gear will be stored for 30 days, giving fishermen a chance to reclaim their own items.Dewland said it is possible they will recover illegally set gear during the process; that will be left up to DFO to resolve.Managers of the project will choose four fine-weather days in the first two weeks of December to do the sweep.More from CBC P.E.I.
Participants both in favour of and opposed to the proposed Grassy Mountain mine squared off Oct. 29 to Nov. 3 during the scheduled presentation and cross-examination period. The hearing topics focused on the project’s purpose, visual esthetics, alternative road access and the potential socioeconomic effects the mine could have on the region. In Benga’s beginning statement, vice-president of external relations Gary Houston said the mine would spike the local economy, encouraging local business, the service industry and tourism in the area. “Benga considers [that] economic development, recreation and tourism are compatible and mutually supportive in the community and the region,” he said. Providing Crowsnest Pass with an established industry, Mr. Houston continued, would help draw more hotels and restaurants, which in turn would attract more tourists to the region to the point the municipality could rival a destination like Fernie. Heather Davis, owner of Uplift Adventures, challenged such an assertion because the environmental and socioeconomic assessment sections of Benga’s application were missing consultation with the outdoor recreation industry. “It appears that the consultant who prepared the report left a gap regarding what is going on in the community,” she said. “A cost-benefit analysis should include the assessment of outdoor recreation, lifestyle and tourism prior to the mine approval.” Ms. Davis said the mine’s approval would limit access to recreational opportunities, which would not only deter people from coming to the area but would also drive away people who live there. Gavin Fitch, representing the Livingstone Landowners Group, said Benga’s claim that the mine would help tourism ignored the fact travel destinations always have a destination worth going to. Amenities like hotels and restaurants, he said, come second. “How, then, is removing the top of one of the local mountains going to contribute to attracting or drawing more tourists?” he asked. Money talks In terms of improving the local economy, Mr. Houston said Benga’s “hire local” policy would ensure the two-year construction phase would provide meaningful employment for nearby residents, as well as establish some 400 good-paying, permanent positions once the mine was operational. The total socioeconomic benefit of the mine, however, was called into question. Though Mr. Houston said in Benga’s opening statements that some 500 jobs would be created during construction, it was later corrected that at its peak the construction phase would require only 190 workers. Overall, an average of 120 workers would be employed while construction is occurring. The estimate of $1.7 billion in provincial and federal royalties and taxes over the mine’s 25-year lifespan — two for construction and 23 for operations — was also based on an assumed average price of US $140 per tonne of metallurgical coal. Coal prices, Benga acknowledged, can regularly fluctuate above $300 or below $100, though the process is a complicated one to predict since prices are established directly between individual steelmakers and coal mines. The risk to the multibillion-dollar agrifood industry downstream from the mine, which was recently reported at $2.2 billion in 2020 for Lethbridge County alone, has raised questions as to whether any purported benefit from the mine is worth the economic risk. With more and more countries investing in green energy to combat climate change, Mr. Fitch said, the economic viability outlook was overly optimistic since global coal use is estimated to decrease. Alternative methods of producing steel without metallurgical coal, like hydrogen-field forges or electric-arc furnaces, could also hamper the mine’s profitability on world markets. Opponents of the proposed mine also said the mine’s development contradicted Canada’s international commitments to limiting gas emissions. Gas emissions as part of the project’s mining operations, however, are regarded by proponents as negligible. “I believe the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the project are in the order of 0.05 per cent of Canada's total greenhouse gas emissions, so that seems like a small number to me,” said Mr. Houston. He also added that figure would be applicable only once the mine reached peak production during its 19th year. As well, decreasing coal demand worldwide only really applies to thermal coal, or coal used to produce electricity, said Benga’s Mike Yuill. “For Canadian export hard-coking coal, the outlook is still very robust,” he said. While using electricity in arc-flash furnaces is growing, Mr. Yuill added that the process requires recycling old steel. For many countries in southeastern Asia just starting to develop, little amounts of steel exist to be recycled, necessitating the need for metallurgical coal. Using hydrogen instead of coal is still in its preliminary stages and is not expected to be used widely during the Grassy Mountain mine’s lifespan. Property problems The mine’s land use, as well as its effect on nearby properties, was also discussed. Since the mine is located on an existing mine that closed in the 1960s, Benga argued that it’s reclamation efforts would improve the area since the previous mining company did not complete any land reclamation. The company also clarified concerns about private properties being located within the mine’s boundary; the boundary was purposefully drawn larger than what operational needs actually required to facilitate appropriate environmental study. No properties exist within the mine footprint, where mining would occur. For Fran Gilmar, who has owned property in the area for 60 years, the distance properties were from the mining footprint was irrelevant since mining activity would destroy the area’s source of fresh water, particularly Gold Creek. “I've drank it for 58 years, and it's, it's beautiful water. It's the last of the last,” she said. “You know, you do not find water like that anywhere.” In addition to water pollution, residents also said the resulting air and noise pollution would significantly devalue their properties. While acknowledging values would decrease if a catastrophic accident occurred, Brian Gettel, a professional appraiser who testified at the hearing, said property losses would only really be affected by the dust produced at the mine. He estimated the additional air pollution would result in 10 per cent or less loss in property value, though mining activity would more negatively affect the higher-end housing, which typically involves people from the city owning a second house in an alpine area. “Put simply, second homes in a mountain area are not necessarily the greatest thing if it's a mining community,” Mr. Gettel said. To mitigate property losses in the Grassy Mountain area, Benga had engaged nearby landowners throughout the proposal and application period, Mr. Houston said. A voluntary buy-back program had been established, with Benga offering to pay owners double what their property was worth, based on individual negotiations. The average starting point for such negotiations, Mr. Houston continued, was $800,000. Describing $800,000 as double the average property price, however, was a disputed figure. “From my perspective, $400,000 is a rare instance, and that is the absolute lowest value I've seen,” said Mr. Gettel. In their communications with Benga, Norm and Tyler Watmough, who own property immediately adjacent to the proposed mine, said negotiations were more like an ultimatum. The initial offer the family received was for $750,000, even though they knew two of their neighbours’ land had been bought by Benga for $1.1 million and $1.3 million. When the family declined the initial offer, Benga offered $800,000, claiming it was 60 per cent premium over the highest appraised property in the region. The Watmoughs again refused the offer. “We felt that they were bullying us and trying to force us out at a price that was below market value,” Tyler said. The difference in pricing, Mr. Houston said, was the result of Benga determining what land was necessary for it to own in order to operate the mine. Land within the mine footprint, then, would be a higher priority for purchase. Landowners in the area also are concerned they will be cut off from Grassy Mountain Road, the most direct access to their properties. Though Benga has suggested alternative roads exist, locals say the routes amount to little more than quad trails or are accessible only parts of the year with four-by-four trucks. The issue stems from an agreement property owners formerly had with the gas company Devon Canada Corp. The agreement granted residents permission to access Grassy Mountain Road, even though it went through private property. Richard Secord, legal counsel for the affected landowners, said Benga did not do its due diligence in ensuring residents could still use the road. “You didn't determine or bother in your public consultation to find out whether [the agreement] was real [and] that they had a similar access to the Grassy Mountain Road,” he said. In Benga’s defense, Mr. Houston responded that no landowners had approached the company about the issue until the hearing. “I don't know that the onus is on Benga to ask [if] there any secret agreements that we don't know about,” he said. “The lines of communication have been open for five years. The fact that we have intended to close the Grassy Mountain Road has been documented in writing at least [since] 2015 and through several other communications.” When Martin Ignasiak, Benga’s legal counsel, asked landowners Larry and Ed Donkersgoed why they did not discuss the issue with the mining company, they replied that they just assumed Benga would know. Benga’s understanding of the agreement was that residents could maintain the road at their own expense, though Mr. Houston said the company was under the impression it really only included clearing snow. He also said the agreement only formally acknowledged Devon was not liable for residents using the road and gave the gas company power to terminate the agreement with 120 days written notice. Evidence of the agreement brought before the hearing was also a little suspect, Mr. Houston said, since a letter indicating the agreement was written and signed by a former Devon employee. The letter didn’t have an official letterhead and only described a verbal agreement rather than laying out terms and conditions. Accessing the hearing The public hearing for the joint review panel continues throughout November. Live and recorded proceedings of the hearing are available on YouTube at https://bit.ly/GMtnHearing, with transcripts and submitted documents accessible at https://bit.ly/AllDocx.Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze
Three men's hockey teams in southern Saskatchewan have had COVID-19 outbreaks, according to the Saskatchewan Health Authority.Two senior hockey teams — the Balcarres Broncs of the Qu'Appelle Valley Hockey League and the Assiniboia Rebels of the Notekeu Hockey League — had outbreaks declared on Nov. 22 and Nov. 23 respectively, the SHA said.While Fort Knox, a team in the Prairie Junior Hockey League based in Fort Qu'Appelle, had an outbreak declared on Nov. 22.Fort Knox has five cases, none of which came from the team's "hockey environment," the team said in a news release."They all live together and the source was determined to be a social event," Kelly McClintock, general manager of the Saskatchewan Hockey Association, said via email.Fort Knox believes all public health precautions were followed from an organizational standpoint, the team said in the news release. On-ice activity is suspended until the end of the month.The Balcarres Broncs have one case of COVID-19, but McClintock said it's "non-hockey related."What's yours? CBC Saskatchewan wants to hear how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted you. Share your story with our online questionnaire.
SALT LAKE CITY — Andy Larsen is a sports writer, but with so many games scratched during the pandemic he has spent a lot of time digging into coronavirus data and its sobering implications.Then on Monday, while he was sorting his spare change — some from a childhood piggy bank shaped like SpongeBob SquarePants — it struck him: Other people in Utah could use the money more than he could.His composed a tweet to his nearly 27,000 followers, hoping to quickly find someone who could use the $165.84.Within a minute, someone offered to essentially double his donation with a deposit into his Venmo account. Then someone else pitched in, and another. It kept snowballing as Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox retweeted it, calling the effort “very cool.”“I figured I would help a couple families with Thanksgiving, or a family with three kids buy Christmas presents,” said the 29-year-old Larsen, who covers the NBA’s Utah Jazz for the Salt Lake Tribune. “I was shocked ... within five, 10 minutes we got $1,000."By Wednesday, he had collected more than $52,000.Among the first to get on board was Jeff Jones, a 54-year-old partner at a CPA firm in South Jordan.“I was thinking, ‘We’re not having a big Thanksgiving dinner this year, I can use some of the money we would have spent to hopefully help some other people,’” he said.With the pandemic keeping people from getting together in a big way for the holiday, the online effort became a chance to conjure a sense of community, a feeling of being part of something larger.“It felt like it took on a life of its own," Jones said. “Man, it's sure been fun to be a part of it."Larsen also heard from people in need. There was someone who got COVID-19 and couldn’t work for a month, possibly putting Christmas gifts out of reach. Another who couldn’t pay a water bill. Someone else whose neighbour didn’t have money for Thanksgiving. Most were local, several were names he recognized from Twitter.Larsen is a numbers guy, so he built spreadsheets for donations and people in need. The effort has gotten big enough that he’ll need some legal help to make sure he’s got everything in order, but he’s planning to start giving away money in the coming days.He's hoping to help with bigger things too, like a down payment on a car for a parent he heard from who can’t get the kids to daycare after being in an accident.The outpouring has been restorative for Larsen, who owes his career in part to social media but has also seen its ugly side.“I thought I was permanently just bitter, the classic embittered journalist,” he said. “And now I’m not for a little bit. And that’s nice.”———-“One Good Thing” is a series that highlights individuals whose actions provide glimmers of joy in hard times — stories of people who find a way to make a difference, no matter how small. Read the collection of stories at https://apnews.com/hub/one-good-thingLindsay Whitehurst, The Associated Press
The Black Cultural Society of P.E.I. is holding a town hall this Friday to ask Black Islanders how it can help them.President Tamara Steele says the group is putting together a strategic plan and wants to make sure it represents the community, whether it's newcomers or people whose families have been here for generations."I think the biggest challenge we have right now is connecting with everyone, so we know that there are people that we're not reaching and just figuring out how to reach them," she said."I don't hesitate any more to just ask people if they've heard about the society and get involved if they want to."Steele said the group has identified three main themes to discuss at the town hall — financial security, mental health and community engagement.The event will be held Friday at 7 p.m. at the Confederation Centre of the Arts. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, there is only room for 100 people. Pre-registration is required.For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.More from CBC P.E.I.
The Trump administration on Wednesday granted ByteDance a new seven-day extension of an order directing the Chinese company to sell its TikTok short video-sharing app, according to a court filing. The administration previously had granted ByteDance a 15-day extension of the order issued in August, which was set to expire Friday. President Donald Trump on Aug. 14 had directed ByteDance to divest the app within 90 days.
The Town of Beaverlodge is applying for a $99,400 Alberta Municipal Water/Wastewater Partnership (AMWWP) grant to study upgrades to the wastewater lagoon to meet Alberta Environment’s design standards. At the Oct. 26 council meeting Associated Engineering representatives made a report to council about the need for $4.5 million in upgrades. An upgrade is necessary because the wastewater lagoon is currently discharged twice per year when once would be ideal under provincial guidelines, according to Associated Engineering. Beaverlodge began discharging the wastewater lagoon twice annually approximately three years ago and the impact to fish is a concern. Mayor Gary Rycroft said insufficient flow can lead to greater concentration of the treated wastewater, which may contain too much ammonia. On Oct. 26 Grant Dixon, an Associated Engineering manager, suggested the town apply for AMWWP grant funding. The deadline to apply for AMWWP is Nov. 30, Dixon told council. On Monday Coun. Cyndi Corbett’s motion to apply for the grant was carried.Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched on Tuesday night from Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying on it a new batch of 60 Starlink satellites into orbit for the Starlink internet satellite constellation system. (Nov. 25)
TEMAGAMI – With COVID-19 not going away anytime soon, Temagami council has begun discussing some options when it comes to winter recreation opportunities at the Community Centre. With all the uncertainties surrounding COVID, and with current arena restrictions, the municipality had yet to determine if the ice plant would be operational for the 2020-21 winter season. Council looked at a pair of options at the November 19 regular meeting. The first option would be for the town to start up the ice plant and have the ice ready for the Christmas season. Staff would ensure that the municipality would continue to follow current health regulations while offering public skating, pick-up hockey, and other events for which revenue could be generated. “To proceed with this option we would need to develop health and safety protocols, cleaning protocols and purchase additional protective equipment,” recreation manager Kelly Hearn wrote in his report to council. “The start-up procedures for the ice plant would also need to be completed.” The second option would be that the municipality does not start up the ice plant this winter. Staff would consider other options for recreational programming for the community to stay active and healthy. “From the operational funds that are not utilized on the start-up, shut down and maintenance of the ice surface, staff would find alternate means of providing recreation to the community,” said Hearn. Hearn noted that staff are also considering the purchase of a made-to-measure, rubberized floor for the arena surface. “This would increase the options of non-ice arena use,” he reasoned. Councillor John Shymko was in favour of the second option, suggesting that the town “could plow a few rinks on Net Lake and Lake Temagami” so that they could still offer public skating. Treasurer-administrator Craig Davidson said he didn’t disagree with Shymko’s idea, but that it might not be something the municipality could do itself based on its insurance coverage. “It might need to be something that’s done at arm’s length (from council) volunteers,” he explained. Davidson added that he has always thought an outdoor rink, along with a bonfire, by the municipal office would be a good idea “as long as the fire doesn’t melt down into the lake.” Shymko then said he wouldn’t mind plowing the potential rink himself. Councillor Margaret Youngs was also in favour of the second option while Councillor Jamie Koistinen said she was leaning towards favouring the first option because of how “depressing” Northern Ontario winters can be. “If we’re removing any kind of recreation from the kids here in town, or even families to have some kind of outings that are safe within the community, then what does that do for the community members there?” she questioned. “Christmas is coming, there’s the two-week (school) break and possibly extensions beyond that. So I tend to think that some families might benefit from going to the arena, especially during a time where you’re not quite able yet to go ski-dooing, you can’t go ice fishing, there’s different things that can’t happen in the community at that time.” Councillor Barret Leudke stated that he didn’t feel the municipality should be encouraging group gatherings of any kind because of the increasing risks and uncertainty associated with the coronavirus. “We need to go into a full lockdown and other municipalities have suggested to stay directly home. I’m not in support of (group gatherings), I see this virus getting worse long before it gets better,” he said. “I want to encourage more distancing and no group gatherings.” Deputy Mayor Cathy Dwyer said she would be in favour of the second option as long as the municipality looks into other recreational possibilities for its residents. She said she has heard from some parents who understand the municipality might not put ice in the arena but were concerned about a lack of activities for their kids this winter. Council agreed on a motion to choose the second option and not start up the ice plant this winter. Hearn said that staff would work on seeking out other recreation opportunities to keep the community active this winter.Jamie Mountain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temiskaming Speaker
CALGARY — A Canadian company developing new control products to improve efficiency and performance in electric motors and powertrains is aiming to raise between $30 million and $36.5 million through a public offering of its shares.Exro Technologies Inc., which closed a lab in Victoria and opened a new innovation centre in Calgary over the summer, says it has priced the shares at $3.25 each.The offering is to be conducted on a “best efforts” basis by a syndicate led by Raymond James Ltd. and Gravitas Securities Inc., with an overallotment option of up to 15 per cent. The offering is to close on or about Dec. 8.The news comes a few days after Exro reported the engineering validation of its 100-volt coil driver, which it said was a "key milestone" for its entry into supplying commercial products to manufacturers in the electric car market.It said it is on schedule to deliver a prototype to Potencia Industrial, S.A. DE C.V., a Mexican manufacturer of electrical motors and generators.In a recent interview, CEO Sue Ozdemir said the company relocated to Calgary because of its relatively low cost industrial space and availability of engineers, some of whom are former oil and gas workers, as employees. She said the company has doubled its staff count to about 20 since last year and is still hiring. “We’re a publicly traded company so we were on a tight budget. We wanted a large space to be able to welcome in customers and shareholders to be see our tech and how it works," she said.“Calgary had that opportunity with commercial rates that are less than Vancouver and Victoria and we knew there was a big engineering base here so we thought we would be able to pull in and train people and so far so good.”The proceeds from the offering are to be used for research and development of the company’s battery management system and electric vehicle programs, as well as other corporate purposes.Exro says its coil driver controller makes electric motors "smarter" by enabling multiple power settings in a single motor and can potentially be used in a wide variety of applications including electric bicycles, buses, generators, appliances, elevators and fans.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2020Companies in this story: (TSXV:EXRO)The Canadian Press
A newly released report from Ontario’s Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk reveals the provincial government was “slower and more reactive” to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic than other provinces, and found that Dr. David Williams, chief medical officer of health, did not “lead” the response.
The Sexsmith Wellness Coalition is seeking space for its programming in early 2021, with council granting the coalition up to $7,000 to rent a facility. The space is needed for January to April and council granted the amount during its regular meeting last week. “Due to COVID, we can’t access the buildings we would normally be renting,” said Melody Sample, Sexsmith wellness co-ordinator. “We are on the hunt for a larger space to run our programs out of.” According to Sexsmith administration, at council’s Nov. 2 meeting council granted the coalition $6,800 to rent the former hardware store on 100th Ave. The plan to use that location fell through when the space was rented out to another party, according to administration. At last week’s meeting Coun. Clint Froehlick’s motion to add up to $7,000 to the coalition’s budget for a rental was carried unopposed. The previous $6,800 was rescinded. Sample is based in the town office but programming takes place in a variety of locations, including school gyms which are now closed to the public, she said. The coalition used the Peace River Bible Institute gym for pre-kindergarten playtime, St. Mary’s School for family gym nights and Robert W. Zahara School’s gym for pickleball, she said. The civic centre and community centre are also occasional venues, but some of the rooms aren’t set up for events like pickleball, Sample added. The coalition currently uses the civic centre for its few programs still operating, namely the seniors community kitchen and upcoming food and nutrition workshops, she said. Provincial restrictions and exercise classes wouldn’t prevent pickleball from restarting with sufficient space, she said. She said larger space in the civic centre is rented out, with the Sexsmith Tumbling Club having a home there. To observe physical distancing requirements the coalition needs space as large as a typical school gym, she said. Sample said the coalition is eyeing a few potential locations in town but couldn’t comment on which ones. A challenge is spaces available for rent are limited, with some already being rented and others not large enough, she said. After April, Sample said she envisions more outdoor programming. She also plans for some outdoor programming like a snowshoe group in December and January, she said. At this point, Sample said the coalition isn’t looking for permanent new space, although it’s possible a location secured for 2021 could become a regular venue. “We’re keeping in mind long-term solutions,” she said.Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News