Ballot counters in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania were sworn in Friday morning, before they began tallying the vote. (Nov. 6)
Ballot counters in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania were sworn in Friday morning, before they began tallying the vote. (Nov. 6)
The City of Vancouver now owns the Regent and Balmoral hotels, Downtown Eastside buildings the city had been trying to expropriate after years of neglect and decay, The Tyee has learned. Land title records list the city as the current owner of 159 E. Hastings — the Balmoral — and 160 E. Hastings — the Regent. The city confirmed to The Tyee that a settlement with the owners, the Sahota family, had been reached. But the city says the terms of the agreement prevent it from revealing how much was paid to purchase the properties, which have been assessed at a value of $1 each because of their extreme disrepair. Sam Dharmapala worked in the buildings as an employee of the former owners, the Sahota family. For a decade, Dharmapala said, he worked alongside tenants and advocates to raise the alarm about the dangerous living conditions at the hotels. “This is a very good fight in the history of the Downtown Eastside,” Dharmapala said. “We want to see [the hotels] go back to the residents of the Downtown Eastside, who have lived in those buildings.” Dharmapala said the city needs to ensure all the units in the two hotels are rented at the welfare shelter rate — $375 for a single person — to provide homes for Vancouver’s poorest residents. The hotels had provided more than 300 units. The records show the transfer happened Nov. 13, one year after Vancouver city council voted unanimously to expropriate the hotels in a groundbreaking decision. Council voted to expropriate after decades of repeated building code and bylaw violations and after taking the owners, the Sahota family, to court numerous times. It was the first time the city had ever attempted to expropriate residential buildings because of extreme neglect. The city started the court action with the intention of renovating or redeveloping the properties for low-income housing. Before the expropriation vote, council heard from dozens of tenants and former tenants who described living with no heat or hot water, constant bedbug, rat and cockroach infestations and the fear of what would happen if there were a fire. Tenants had lived in squalor in the two buildings for decades. City building inspectors ordered the Balmoral to be emptied in the summer of 2017 because it was in such poor condition. One year later, the Regent was also condemned. Tenants of both buildings were moved into other buildings by the City of Vancouver and BC Housing. Karen Ward, a Downtown Eastside resident who now works for the city as a drug policy advisor, said city building inspectors initially closed just the bathrooms of the Balmoral in June 2017 because they feared bathtubs could plunge through the rotten floors. Ward worked at the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users at the time. “People were coming to me daily to say they were terrified to go into their own home,” Ward said. Ward called for the buildings to be torn down and for modular housing to be quickly built in their place. “We can build a six- to eight-story building and house 100 people by April,” Ward said. “It’s a desperate situation out here and we don’t need to do things the old way — we can use modular housing to build housing that decreases the chance of death for drug users. We can do this.” Overdose deaths have soared throughout 2020 and homelessness has increased as COVID-19 restrictions have made the drug supply more toxic and reduced the number of places people can go to find shelter. Vancouver’s mayor, Kennedy Stewart, said the city plans to work with BC Housing to turn the buildings into low-income housing. “Bringing the Regent and Balmoral into public ownership marks a hopeful new beginning for residents of the Downtown Eastside and something all residents should be proud of,” Stewart was quoted as saying in a press release. “Downtown Eastside residents will be at the centre of creating a new vision for these two sites, and indeed the entire community.” B.C.’s attorney general and minister responsible for housing, David Eby, also weighed in, saying: “For too long, people had to live in sub-standard living conditions in these buildings. The acquisition of these properties is welcome news.” The next steps will be to start community consultation sessions with the Downtown Eastside community, and city staff will report back to council on next steps and a timeline for renovating or redeveloping the properties in early 2021, according to the City of Vancouver. On Nov. 3, city communications staff told The Tyee court expropriation proceedings were paused while the city worked with “representatives of the owners of the Regent and the Balmoral to resolve the expropriation of the hotels.” The Tyee has reached out to the city for comment. In a statement emailed to The Tyee by lawyer Evan Cooke, the Sahota family confirmed they had come to an agreement with the city. “We have determined that the public sector is better equipped to respond to the acute needs of the area’s residents at this time; including their urgent need for housing, mental health and substance abuse support, and other critical programs.” The statement said the details of the transfer are confidential.Jen St. Denis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Tyee
A West Coast MP wants the federal transport minister to ditch fines in the thousands of dollars and allow BC Ferries passengers to remain in their vehicles on enclosed car decks to protect themselves from COVID-19 despite regulations against the practice. Rachel Blaney, North Island-Powell River’s NDP MP, has written to Transport Minister Marc Garneau questioning the logic of potentially fining people up to $12,000 when they are heeding public health orders to keep their contact with other people to a minimum. “We’re in the middle of a pandemic and case numbers are growing in B.C.,” Blaney said. “And obviously it’s a concern to the point that people are willing to be written up and risk fines on the ferries to prevent exposure to COVID-19.” In the initial wave of the pandemic, Transport Canada temporarily waived regulations requiring people in cars on closed decks to head up to passenger lounges. But the federal agency rescinded the exception granted to ferry operators at the end of September. Blaney said she has made her second appeal to Garneau after learning 1,000 people have defied the order and have been reported to Transport Canada. The risks of exposure to the virus are higher now than during the initial exemption, Blaney said, adding B.C. Premier John Horgan has also called on Ottawa to extend the exemption. “The minister previously paused that rule so that people could stay safe,” she said. “Now, when case numbers are growing, why won't he do it again?” Ferry workers have not been policing passengers who choose to remain in their cars, said BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall. “We’re not an enforcement agency,” said Marshall. “We’re politely reminding customers of the Transport Canada regulations.” Staff has been handing out Transport Canada leaflets to passengers who don’t leave the decks that outline the regulations and potential penalties, she said. Those who elect to stay in their cars have their information forwarded to the transport ministry, she added. Marshall confirmed more than 1,000 incidents have been reported to Transport Canada, most often on the sailings between Horseshoe Bay on the mainland and Departure Bay on Vancouver Island. But the vast majority of passengers have been complying with the regulation, Marshall said. The rule is in effect again because Transport Canada believes that new distancing and cleaning protocols on the provincial ferry service mitigate the risk individuals face from COVID-19 exposure, she added. “We certainly understand people are concerned about COVID-19,” Marshall said, adding there a number of risks associated with staying on a car deck. Though it’s unlikely, a car fire could pose serious danger in an enclosed deck, she said. “A customer in their vehicle could be overcome by smoke inhalation or might not be able to find their way out of their vehicle or get through to a stairwell to get upstairs,” she said. Blaney feels the current risks from the virus are greater than those from remaining on closed decks. And she has asked for the risk assessment the transport ministry relied on to make its decision. Constituents in her riding, particularly those who are vulnerable to the virus but must travel to seek medical attention, are expressing grave concerns, Blaney said. “People are very scared,” she said. “They're already travelling to access the care that they need from bigger centres, asking them in their health conditions to risk exposure just adds to the tension.” Rochelle Baker / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada's National ObserverRochelle Baker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
Woodcliff United Church in southwest Calgary is known for its life-size, interactive advent calendar during the holiday season. Usually, it's in the form of drawers containing gifts, or doors that can be opened. This year, however, the committee had to get COVID-creative."Well, 2020 forced all of the pivoting in our church community — of course we can't meet in the sanctuary," said Sheri Bolitho, Woodcliff's faith formation minister, on the Calgary Eyeopener. "And it didn't make sense to us to have 100 or 200 people touching each drawer each day — we don't have enough sanitizing elves for that at all. "So we've had to make it a lot different. So this year, we've created a calendar that allows for social distancing."Bolitho said each of the stations or "days" is between six feet and 12 feet apart. The entire calendar is built as a labyrinth that runs across the front lawn of the property.The first few days of December have already been unveiled. The rest of the days are all laid out by climbing rope, linked together in a maze."Each day has a sign and activity, and they're individually wrapped like gifts, though we have special, wonderful elves who come out early in the morning and unwrap gifts for you," Bolitho said.Bolitho said the long-running tradition started as a way to connect with the community outside the walls of the church."We just really wanted to be able to spread the meaning of Christmas to us, which is the four elements — faith, joy, hope and love — into the community," she said."And our church loves to be outside of the building. This is the perfect opportunity to let everyone know where we are and what Christmas is all about and the season of gifting and how we connect all of the wonderful things back to those elements."The advent calendar is full of tactile elements, crafts, projects and things people can do with their hands. And it is always full of surprises.Yesterday was a Christmas star, for example. The day before that was a heart craft made out of a hanger and yarn. "We know people have a lot more time at home," Bolitho said. "They can take the activity and go home and make it as a family, and then they can maybe gift it, or they can use it as an ornament on their tree."Bolitho said there are elements of the Christmas story to be found along the way, such as the star, symbolizing the star that the shepherds followed to the stable in Bethlehem.But the calendar has many non-religious references as well."There's also a whole bunch of more secular elements, so there's the candy cane, and then there's the story of the candy cane, how it's really shaped like a shepherd's crook," Bolitho said. Charity outreachSince COVID hit, the church has been offering virtual services and online recordings of sermons.Meanwhile, the church has an outreach committee that is focused on ways to give back to the community, and the advent calendar is always a big highlight. This year, the church is collecting for both the food bank and the Calgary Drop-In Centre.The food bank collection week starts today and goes until Dec. 10, at which point the focus shifts over to the Drop-In Centre for the longest night of the year, Dec. 21. The church is collecting donations of mittens, hats, underwear and socks for the Drop-In Centre.There are some crafts that Bolitho said she's particularly looking forward to on the advent calendar."I have a couple of wonderful ones. The first one is the word 'joy.' It's a beautiful paper craft," she said. "Our wonderful elves that made all of these have taken strips of coloured paper and rolled them up into the word 'joy' and it's gorgeous. You have to come see."And then another one of my favourites is the Santa gnome — he's a little Christmas ornament covered in yarn. And he's got a beautiful felt hat. He's wonderful."Woodcliff United Church is located at 5010 Spruce Drive S.W. For more information go to Woodcliff United Church.With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.
A palliative care facility in St. Albert met an act of vandalism with a renewed spirit of giving after Christmas trees and memorial plaques were damaged this week. On Sunday, the St. Albert Sturgeon Hospice Association (SASHA) lit trees on the hillside outside of the the Foyer Lacombe palliative care facility. Community members were invited to tune in online or participate in a drive-by viewing. "We certainly had tears in our eyes and what a tender gentle moment ... to see all those lights coming on outside the room where my mother died," recalled donor Sharon Ryan, whose mom spent her final days there last summer. A day or two later, vandals struck — damaging memorial plaques and several trees while stripping lights off others. But Ryan said what should have felt like a punch in the gut sparked the opposite reaction. "We just rolled our eyes, and we rolled up our sleeves and we got to work immediately to rebuild those light displays," said Ryan, who has also founded an advocacy group for seniors. "It was just such an automatic reaction — nobody's going to hold us back." Joheanna Buisman, president of SASHA, said she was saddened by the incident — especially because the lights were meant to honour loved ones and caregivers. But she said the overwhelming support from the community, which included $25,000 in donations for end-of-life-care, only grew after the incident. "I can't believe the outpouring," said Buisman. "People reaching out and saying 'could we do something for you, can we help you, can we help pay for the lights, can we give you lights, can we help string lights'." Support has included donations from local business owners to buy new lights for the trees. RCMP have no leads but want to hear from anyone with information.
A large mixed-used development in the Moodyville area, set to offer more affordable living options and create a neighbourhood hub, will move ahead after a “compromise” was reached between City of North Vancouver council and developers this week. After a mammoth two-night public hearing, with more than 100 speakers, council voted in favour of allowing the Cascadia Green Development proposal for 402-438 East Third St. and 341-343 St. Davids Ave. to move forward, with an amendment to lower the height of one of the three buildings within the corner block project. Council voted five to two in support of the developer’s application to change the city’s official community plan and zoning bylaw to allow the increase of one building from four storeys to five storeys as well as add a commercial laneway and extra retail and office spaces to the project at Tuesday’s meeting. The 5,516.5-square-metre development’s three buildings include the west building, a four-storey 14.6-metre (47.9 ft.) building along East Third Street with 82 market strata residential units, including ground-floor live-work townhouse units; the east building, a five-storey 19-metre (62.4 ft.) mixed-use building with 71 market strata residential units, 14 commercial retail units, office spaces and a childcare facility, and the north building, which was originally going to be four storeys or 14.8 metres (48.6 ft.) at the lane, stepping down to two storeys at East Fourth Street, with commercial retail units facing St. Davids Avenue and the lane, and 16 residential units. The east part of the lane will be closed to traffic to create an outdoor market, with small shops sheltered by a colourful canopy. At the public hearing, those in support praised the project for offering relatively affordable housing, with a rent-to-own and affordable home ownership program, its pedestrian "walkable" orientated design, the proposed mix of neighbourhood retail and restaurants and a new daycare centre with 16 spots. Many residents who spoke against the changes to the OCP said they weren’t “anti-development” they just believed the project in its current form was “too massive” for the neighbourhood. Residents on East Fourth Street echoed the same concerns about the heights, size, expected density, and shadow impacts of the three buildings. After hearing endless comments from neighbours that the “monstrosity” would cast a shadow over their homes, Coun. Angela Girard put forward a motion to amend the bylaw and reduce the height of the development’s north building by one storey or 10 ft., taking it down to a maximum height of 11.5 metres (37.8ft) and to keep the building terraced to reduce shadowing, which was supported by Mayor Linda Buchanan and all councillors. Farzad Mazarei, chief executive officer at Cascadia Green Development, accepted the proposal change but said it would mean a loss of community amenity contributions of upwards of $500,000 and a reduction of between five to 10 units in the “much-needed rent-to-own program” – one of the most supported features of the project. “It is disappointing for us to really reduce the number of rental units, but, I think, given the fact that we have been in this project for more than four years now, I guess we don't have that much of an option in front of us because of the carry-on costs and everything else that goes with a project of this size,” he said. In question time, Mazarei had pointed out that if changes were made to the taller east building on Third Street, it would mean the loss of the daycare centre and a significant reduction to the development’s breezeway, which was widened to allow more light into the space, and if changed back would create greater shadow impacts. Commenting on the loss of some of the rent-to-own program due to the height change to the north building, Girard said it was “regrettable,” but felt it was the “right thing to do for the community.” Coun. Tony Valente agreed it was a “positive step in the right direction.” "I think this is about a compromise and this is certainly the start of that,” he said. “I realize this is a reduction in some of the benefits, but I think it's a reasonable reduction that actually does address some of the things that we've heard back from the community.” Councillors had a robust discussion, raising questions about potential traffic woes, shadow impacts of the buildings, local school capacity and the rent-to-own program before voting on the amended bylaw. “I have found making this decision on this project difficult,” Girard said, in her closing comments. “I know that if I were living on the south side of East Fourth Street … and having to consider the possibility of sharing that lane with a strata complex with a significantly greater number of people, plus commercial, I too would be feeling that this was a big change for the neighbourhood. "However, there are components of this project that I believe have great merit and could bring real benefits and change to that neighbourhood and to the broader community.” While she sympathized with neighbours’ concerns with the height of the east building, she felt the impacts to making changes to that plan were too great, and would have resulted in a greater loss to affordable housing units which a number of young people and front-line workers called up to support. Coun. Don Bell put forward a motion to lower the east building to four storeys from the lane but was not supported by fellow councillors. He then voted against the proposal moving forward, saying the heights would make a “drastic change” to the area that wasn’t fair to the residents who live on East Fourth. Similarly, Coun. Holly Back agreed with many of the positive aspects of the development but labelled the amendment “a very quick knee-jerk reaction” and did not support the proposal, calling for further discussion with developers. Melissa McConchie, who lives on East Fourth, and was one of many nearby residents calling for the developer to scale back the development, said she was thankful to her neighbours for speaking up to help “preserve the character of their neighbourhood” and to council for hearing their concerns. “We are pleased that council took the initiative to require the developer to reduce their north building at Fourth Street from four storeys to three storeys so that it fits in better with the rest of the duplexes on this street,” she said. McConchie said while the community was disappointed council did not require the developer to reduce the building heights on Third Street, they were pleased that there was some discussion on changing the practice of measuring the height of buildings, which she said had led to a lot of confusion for community members. When it came to the commercial laneway, she said she “really hopes the city and the developer will ensure that agreements for a commercial loading zone and good neighbour agreements can be put in place so that this ends up being a positive experience.” Buchanan said she recognized this process was emotional for people in the Moodyville neighbourhood and mentioned it wasn’t all that easy on council either. “The concerns from the residents that we've heard over the last two nights as well as over the year are real and we understand that, but they're also very real for the people who came forth to say that they would really like to be in this neighbourhood, they’d really like to be part of this city, they'd really like to downsize or get into homeownership,” she said. Buchanan said the city had a responsibility to look at innovative ways to deliver new housing, and this project would make it a reality through the rent to own and affordable home ownership programs. “What we're all trying to do is make it [the city] the best place for all of us, but we're also looking at how can we make it the best place for people in the future as well,” she said.Elisia Seeber, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Shore News
A bill that will criminalize international doping conspiracies became law Friday with President Donald Trump's signature, closing out a two-year legislative process during which the only true opposition to the bill came from outside the United States.The Rodchenkov Anti-Doping Act had earlier passed both houses of Congress on voice votes. It passed despite lobbying efforts from the World Anti-Doping Agency, which said it will “disrupt the global legal anti-doping framework.”The bill is designed to allow U.S. prosecutors to go after doping schemes at international events in which Americans are involved as athletes, sponsors or broadcasters. It is named after Grigory Rodchenkov, the former Moscow lab director who helped uncover widespread cheating directed by the Russian government to help the country's athletes at the Sochi Olympics and other major events.It was the response to the Russian scandal from WADA, the IOC and other international sports federations that led the U.S. to pursue the law. Representatives from the U.S. drug-control office bristled at WADA's efforts to lobby for extensive changes in the bill.Rodchenkov's attorney, Jim Walden, said the law gives “the Department of Justice a powerful and unique set of tools to eradicate doping fraud and related criminal activities from international competitions.”The law is in line with others that have helped U.S. authorities crack down on international corruption in different areas. It calls for fines of up to $1 million and prison sentences of up to 10 years for those who participate in schemes designed to influence international sports competitions through doping.It is not designed to go after individual athletes.Among WADA's concerns is that this law will tempt other countries to consider similar legislation that could undermine the harmonization of the global anti-doping rules.Eddie Pells, The Associated Press
The Ministry of Environment is asking hunters to submit the heads of deer, moose and elk harvested this hunting season for chronic wasting disease (CWD) testing. CWD is a fatal, infectious central nervous system disease affecting mammals in the deer family that has no known cure. It may or may not be able to spread among humans. “It is possible and plausible although very low that CWD could transmit to humans. So far we have not seen that but of course we are taking precautionary measures to make sure that doesn’t happen,” Terrestrial Biologist Rick Espie told the Prince Albert Daily Herald. Although no human case of CWD has ever been identified, the province recommends that hunters avoid eating the meat until they receive their test results. “A good safe rule of thumb is to not consume an animal until you’ve had it tested and not to consume it until you get those test results back. If it turns out to be positive the best measure is to not consume that animal but to dispose of it at a landfill,” Espie said. He said despite the low risk at the moment, we can’t be too careful and compared the phenomenon to mad cow disease where a rare variant was able to infect humans. “Of the millions of people in the U.K. who ate potentially infected meat a very small number of them became infected with a form of mad cow disease,” Espie said. Hunters are strongly urged not to eat, or distribute for human consumption, the meat or other parts from animals that are found to be CWD-positive. “Even though the risks are very low, they’re probably not zero so you want to minimize that risk by not consuming positive animals,” Espie said. Hunters from anywhere in the province can submit heads for testing but specimens from along the edge of the boreal forest are of particular interest to scientists this year as the disease continues to spread among animals in the wild. The disease was first detected in Saskatchewan in 1996, among farmed elk in the southwest and made its way into the wild mule deer population around the year 2000. It is now found in deer, elk and moose in 55 of Saskatchewan’s 83 wildlife management zones (WMZ). “It has expanded out north and eastward from that year by year and so we’re trying to gauge exactly how far it’s gotten and at what level it’s at the forefront of its expansion,” Espie said. The disease can spread through animal contact or from contaminated feed, urine or feces and is able to exist in the environment for a long period of time. Espie said as the disease progresses and animals become more infected, it starts to manifest itself outwardly and you can see that there’s something wrong. But during the early incubation period they can still spread the disease. “It’s not very fast acting so it takes the disease quite a long time to incubate in the animal and you can’t really tell whether or not they’re infected in the early stages,” Espie said. “In the later stages they become quite run down, maybe lose their fear of humans, become emaciated and eventually die but earlier on they look very healthy and normal.” He said that for reasons as yet unknown, CWD hasn’t made it into the boreal forest itself, but that knowing if the disease is prevalent along the “boreal fringe” can help inform preventative measures that can be taken to stop it from spreading further. Submissions from WMZs 50 (around Meadow Lake) and 55 (north of Prince Albert) will help scientists evaluate risk in woodland caribou habitat in the boreal forest. Hunters in wildlife management zones near Yorkton in the east and Swift Current in the south are asked to submit mule deer and white-tailed deer heads for testing. “We’re looking to have hunters from those zones in particular submit deer, elk and moose heads for testing. We’re trying to get as many samples as we can from those areas,” Espie said. “Of course we’re trying to manage and monitor the disease. The only way we can do that is when hunters submit heads for testing. We can then determine whether an animal has CWD.” He noted that at this time, only Indigenous people can hunt woodland caribou, which are also eligible for testing. The ministry is hoping to collect at least 300 samples in each of these targeted zones but testing is available for all cervid species harvested in any WMZ in the province. “Last year, hunters submitted more than 3,300 heads for CWD testing,” Environment Minister Dustin Duncan said. “Their continued support of the CWD surveillance program is invaluable in helping us understand how this disease spreads, and for evaluating potential population impacts. This in turn will guide the province in developing disease management plans.” One way that hunters can help reduce the spread of CWD to new areas of the province is by properly disposing of animal carcass waste. “If you have an infected carcass with CWD by leaving that on the landscape or by moving it around between zones it could increase the spread of the disease,” Espie said. In areas where CWD has been detected, hunters are being asked to quarter the animal in the field instead of transporting it from the area where it was taken. “With the help of hunters, the ministry has been monitoring the spread and intensity of CWD for more than 20 years,” Duncan said. “We appreciate their support and want to continue working together to better understand and address this wildlife disease.” Prior to dropping off heads, you need to get your CWD Tracking Number from the cwdsk.ca website and keep that number with you. With hunting season winding down, hunters are reminded to get their animals tested. Heads can be submitted for testing at a number of designated drop-off locations across the province. The testing is free of charge and the ministry does not reimburse hunters on their licenses should the meat turn out to be contaminated. Michael Bramadat-Willcock, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Northern AdvocateMichael Bramadat-Willcock, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Northern Advocate
Gananoque kicks off its Christmas celebrations this weekend. The three-week event will start on Saturday with the Festival of Light and a stand-still parade on King Street, organized by the 1000 Islands Gananoque Chamber of Commerce. "We lit up the whole visitor centre, Town Hall, the bandshell and 20 trees today, thanks to Hydro One; they showed up today with four bucket trucks and 20 guys and they did an amazing job," said Amy Kirkland, executive director of the chamber. On Saturday the parade will be a little smaller than previous years but no less spectacular. So far there are 29 confirmed floats and Kirkland says she is expecting another eight to show up on the day, bringing the total to 37 floats. "Before the parade starts at 5:30, the Gananoque Curling Club will be handing out free hot chocolate and apple cider in Town Park between 2 and 4 p.m.," said Kari Lambe, the town's manager of recreation. The 1000 Islands History Museum will also be lighting up the museum and is offering a walk-by window exhibit, "Toys of Yesteryear," on Saturday. The town is billing this year's celebrations as "A Wonderful Life in Gananoque" with a variety of festivities planned for the holiday season. "Starting on Sunday, Dec. 6, children will have the opportunity to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus at his grotto in Town Park, where proper social distance and safety measure have been put in place," said Lambe, adding that there will also be carolling on the front steps of Town Hall from 3 until 4 p.m. The Gananoque Fire Service will be setting up firepits in Town Park from 2 until 5 p.m. Every Wednesday just after 6 p.m., Santa will be reading children's stories on 99.9 MyFM, with the final reading of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas scheduled for Dec. 24, just before the man in red takes off on his big journey. The town is also hosting a Winter Lights competition, and residents are encouraged to decorate their homes for the holiday season. Lambe said a group of judges will pick a winner from each ward, North, South and West, and one award will be given to the business with the best window and/or light display. The winners will be announced on Dec. 18 on the town's Facebook page. The Christmas celebrations are the work of several community groups, including those mentioned earlier as well as a committee of council, the Municipal Accommodation Tax Tourism Advisory Panel, 1000 Islands RV, the Thousand Islands Playhouse and several town volunteers. A full schedule of events is posted on the town’s website.Heddy Sorour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times
VANCOUVER — It appears the Vancouver Canucks have cut ties with anthem singer Mark Donnelly over his plan to sing at a rally to protest COVID-19 restrictions.Donnelly confirmed to the Vancouver Sun that he planned to sing "O Canada" Saturday at the downtown Vancouver protest.That caused the Canucks to issue a statement distancing the NHL team from Donnelly.Team owner Franceso Aquilini took it a step further, tweeting: “Hey Vancouver Sun change the headline to ‘Former Canucks anthem singer,'" followed by the hashtag wearamask.Donnelly has been performing the anthem at Canucks games since 2001. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020.The Canadian Press
JUNEAU, Alaska — A recount Friday affirmed a win by Democrat Liz Snyder over Republican House Minority Leader Lance Pruitt for an Anchorage House seat, though her margin of victory narrowed slightly.Results certified Monday showed Snyder had defeated Pruitt by 13 votes. But Friday’s recount showed an 11-vote margin of victory, with 4,574 for Snyder and 4,563 for Pruitt. This year’s election was a rematch from 2018, when Snyder lost to Pruitt.The recount was not requested by Pruitt but by 11 others identified in their petition as voters in the Anchorage House district. State law allows a defeated candidate or 10 qualified voters who believe a mistake was made in the ballot count to request a recount.Pruitt by text message Friday said the encouragement he had received “led me to believe that there was no one better to request this recount than those who kept reaching out asking how they could help. I am humbled by their continued and unwavering support!”Two attorneys representing the recount request group, Joe Geldhof and Stacey Stone, attended the recount in Juneau, as did Snyder and Holly Wells, an attorney for Snyder. The hand count was conducted by members of a bipartisan review board, said Tiffany Montemayor, a spokesperson for the state Division of Elections.More than 9,000 votes were cast in the race. Absentee ballots went through the recount process twice after the tallies during the initial recount were off from the certified results. Pruitt ultimately picked up an absentee vote and Snyder lost one in the final recount.Snyder said the goal “was making sure all valid votes got counted, and it feels like that was achieved.”Stone described the process as smooth and said she was pleased with it.She cited concern, however, with polling location changes ahead of the election, “which we believe may have impacted the vote, and we're investigating that now.” An issue of concern is whether there was any voter disenfranchisement, Stone said.Gail Fenumiai, Division of Elections director, said notice was given of polling location changes, including flagging changes on the division website.Neither the House nor the Senate has organized ahead of the next regular session, which starts in January. In Alaska, the chambers don’t necessarily organize along party lines. Personalities and policy positions can also factor in.Separately, Montemayor said an audit of a statewide ballot measure that narrowly passed last month would begin Monday. The audit was sought by Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer, who oversees elections. Meyer has said the audit is intended to help put to rest questions some have raised about the validity of election results tied to the vote tabulation equipment the state uses.The measure, which would end party primaries and institute ranked-choice voting for general elections, passed with 174,032 votes, compared to 170,251 no votes, according to the certified results. Meyer has said he believes the measure passed fairly.A lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the measure has been filed.Cori Mills, a chief assistant attorney general with the Department of Law, said Friday's recount “verified that the voting equipment is accurate and the results, all the results, can be trusted.”Becky Bohrer, The Associated Press
A new chamber of commerce partnership program designed to help businesses connect with new talent, and gain access to financial incentives, has just launched. The 1000 Islands Gananoque Chamber of Commerce is partnering with Magnet and the Talent Opportunity Program (TOP) to connect chamber of commerce members to the Magnet platform, a digital social enterprise out of Ryerson University. Through Magnet, businesses can get connected with new talent, and get access to business growth opportunities and tools to navigate the impacts of the changing labour market and the COVID-19 pandemic. Key to the partnership between Magnet and local chamber is access to wage subsidies through the Student Work Placement Program (SWPP). Funded by the Government of Canada, SWPP lets employers tap into wage subsidies of up to $7,500 when they hire a Canadian post-secondary student, in a co-op style environment . "The combination of a national recruitment platform and the SWPP wage subsidy will be an important lifeline for our members," said Amy Kirkland, executive director of the 1000 Islands Gananoque Chamber of Commerce. This chamber partnership initiative brings together local chambers and boards of trade, small and medium-sized enterprises, job-seekers, and post-secondary institutions to support opportunities for student job seekers from coast to coast, across Canada, in an effort to boost economic recovery. "The initiative represents an innovative and necessary approach to helping small businesses grow, connecting early talent to new opportunities to emerge from this challenge stronger and better," said Kirkland. Creating an account with the Magnet Business Growth Portal is free for businesses of all sizes and industries. The Magnet Business Growth Portal helps small and medium enterprises strategize, adapt, and grow with notifications about funding, wage subsidies, training and hiring programs, market research, and COVID-19 support, according to the portal. "Ensuring a strong economic recovery depends on the success of our students and youth. Programs like the Student Work Placement Program exist to provide post-secondary students with the chance to grow professionally and develop new skills while working in sectors that are in line with their interests and field of study," Carla Qualtrough, the federal minister of employment, workforce development and disability inclusion, said in a statement. The SWPP can help business, working towards recovery, offset the cost of hiring, while giving youth an opportunity to gain work experience. "Our government's investment in Magnet will go a long way in helping young Canadians gain meaningful placement opportunities in a variety of disciplines including health care and other high demand sectors, all of which play an especially important role in responding to the current pandemic," said Qualtrough.Heddy Sorour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times
Le sud-est de l'Estrie, la Beauce, le Bas-Saint-Laurent et une partie de la Gaspésie peuvent s'attendre à recevoir de 20 à 30 centimètres de neige cette fin de semaine, selon Environnement Canada. Cette première bordée importante de la saison pour ces régions est attribuable à une dépression qui remonte le long de la côte-est américaine pour traverser le golfe du Maine lors de la journée de samedi et le Nouveau-Brunswick durant la journée de dimanche. Tous les secteurs qui sont en bordure, donc tout juste au nord de la trajectoire de cette dépression, en subiront les effets principalement sous forme de neige abondante et de vents, a expliqué le météorologue Alexandre Parent, d'Environnement Canada. «Ça pourrait même dépasser les 30 centimètres de neige dans les secteurs de Kamouraska, de Témiscouata, de Rimouski et de la vallée de la Matapédia», a estimé M. Parent lors d'une entrevue avec La Presse Canadienne. La neige devrait débuter en fin de journée samedi ou dans la nuit de samedi à dimanche. Les vents se mettront également de la partie, principalement dimanche matin. M. Parent prédit que ces conditions pourraient être difficiles en première moitié de journée dans l'est du Québec et que la visibilité sera probablement nulle par endroits. Il suggère «fortement» d'effectuer les déplacements samedi plutôt que dimanche. Le Grand Montréal ne devrait rien recevoir de cette dépression. La région de Québec pourrait quant à elle recevoir de 5 à 10 centimètres. La semaine prochaine devrait être «tranquille» avec pratiquement pas de précipitations et des températures près du point de congélation. \- Texte de l'Initiative de journalisme local.Michel Saba, Initiative de journalisme local, La Presse Canadienne
The union for blue-collar workers in Montreal says it wants to put pressure on the city to speed up negotiations and says it has issued a strike notice that will come into force in the next couple weeks. The city's 6,500 blue-collar workers have been without an employee contract since Dec. 31, 2017. In a news release sent by the union representing the workers, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), said, "discussions are ongoing but we want to put some pressure to get things done.""Blue-collar workers want a new employment contract that is fair and respects the work they provide on a daily basis," the release said. It said in mid-November 2,846 members voted 97.2 per cent in favour of a mandate giving them the right to exercise pressure that could go as far as a general strike.The assembly was held in a temporary drive-in installed on the site of the Royalmount project, where members arrived by car. The City of Montreal says it is aware of the union's decision but that it has not been informed of the pressure tactics workers plan on taking, or which essential services they will continue to offer.
The City of Vancouver says work to bring eastbound vehicle traffic back to Beach Avenue between Denman and Jervis streets will begin next week.In April, when few cars were on the road because of stay-at-home orders by public health officials, Beach Avenue's eastbound lanes were closed to motorists all the way to Hornby Street. The changes were made to allow park users more room for physical distancing due to COVID-19 concerns. Cyclists in Stanley Park had a two-lane road to themselves and pedestrians got exclusive use of the seawall.Under the new plan, traffic will still be banned from Jervis to Hornby streets, as the city works to establish a more permanent plan for the area."These interim changes are based on feedback from more than 2,500 residents during the fall on the current street design," according to a statement from the city.The changes include: * Painting crosswalks to better prioritize pedestrians crossings. * Adding median islands to shorten the crossing distance for pedestrians. * Incorporating accessible design features like level bus boarding islands and modified traffic signals. * Replacing traffic cones with sturdier and harder-to-move concrete barriers.In September, the City of Vancouver launched an online survey to gather public input on the future of the Beach Avenue bike lane and the path.A plan to gather feedback on the longer-term vision for the area, and whether the changes should be permanent will be rolled out in 2021.The budget for the changes was not mentioned in the statement from the city.
NEW YORK — The Trump administration must accept new applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that protects some young immigrants from deportation, a federal judge ruled Friday, in vacating a memo from the acting Homeland Security secretary that had suspended it.U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis said the government had to post a public notice within three days — including on its website and the websites of all other relevant government agencies — that new DACA applications were being accepted.The ruling follows one from November where Garaufis said Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf was unlawfully in his position.On Friday, the judge said that invalidated the memo Wolf had issued in July suspending DACA for new applications and reducing how long renewals were valid from two years down to one year.Wolf had issued his memo after the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled in June that President Donald Trump failed to follow rule-making procedures when he tried to end the program.Garaufis also ordered the government to put together a status report on the DACA program by Jan. 4.An email seeking comment was sent to the Department of Homeland Security.“Every time the outgoing administration tried to use young immigrants as political scapegoats, they defiled the values of our nation. The court’s order makes clear that fairness, inclusion, and compassion matter," said New York state Attorney General Letitia James, who led a number of state attorneys general in one of the lawsuits against the administration.DACA, which was started in 2012 during the Obama administration, allows certain young immigrants who were brought to the country as children to legally work and shields them from deportation. Those who are approved for it must first go through background checks and regularly renew.The Trump administration had announced the end of the program in 2017, leading to the legal challenges that wound up in front of the Supreme Court.In making its ruling, the Supreme Court upheld DACA, saying that the particular way the administration had gone about shutting it down was improper, but that the president did have the authority to do so.About 650,000 people are currently enrolled in the program.The Associated Press
Feist and a "Barenaked Ladies" member are also criticizing how homeless communities are being treated.
Those most at risk will be getting the first doses of COVID-19 vaccine — including health-care workers, seniors over 70 and adults in Indigenous communities. The process is expected to use all of the initial allotment and be finished by the end of March 2021.
OTTAWA — Procurement Minister Anita Anand says that as soon as she knows when the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine will arrive in Canada, she will share that information with Canadians.But Anand told The Canadian Press in an interview this week that the original contracts to buy COVID-19 vaccines had to be vague about delivery dates because nobody knew at the time if the vaccines would be successful.It's only in the last few weeks, when the leading candidates from Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca reported such positive results from their large clinical trials, that the way forward became clear enough for Anand's department to start asking the companies to be more specific about when they can make good on their contracts with Canada."We put these contracts in place in order to place Canadians in the best stead possible, of any country in the world, recognizing that we would need to negotiate additional terms such as precise delivery dates, once a vaccine was discovered, and regulatory approval was obtained," she said. "And that is what's happening now."As Canadians face a pandemic-plagued holiday season and dream that 2021 will not be the anxiety-laden and often tragic disaster that 2020 has proven to be, there is one gleaming hope dangling still just out of reach: a vaccine for COVID-19.Still, the federal government has yet to answer one big question: When will it get here?It is not that she doesn't want to tell Canadians when, said Anand. But the complexities of figuring out a specific date are linked to when Health Canada approves the vaccine, and when the vaccine makers can see that Canada is ready to receive and safely distribute the precious doses, some of which have to be stored at temperatures below -70 C.Those pieces are starting to converge now.Health Canada officials are days, maybe even hours, away from approving the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech for use in Canada.Canadians got some more information on the logistics from a briefing of federal officials this week, including that Pfizer will ship its vaccine directly to 14 identified receiving sites in provinces. FedEx and Innomar Strategies were contracted Friday to oversee the delivery of other vaccines from a national receiving site to provinces.The National Advisory Committee on Immunization issued refined guidance Friday for who should get the vaccine first, including long-term care residents and workers, and people over the age of 80. The materials like syringes, gauze pads and bandages needed to vaccinate millions of people are in place. Ultralow temperature freezers have been purchased and nine new ones have already arrived. Provincial governments are lining up their own task forces."We are going to have vaccines in this country, as expeditiously as possible," Anand said.Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole has been decrying the lack of clarity from the Liberals about the vaccine plan. A week ago he accused the Liberals of only starting to buy vaccines in a panic this summer after a collaboration with China on a vaccine fell apart.The partnership between the National Research Council and China's CanSino Biologics was announced in May to great fanfare. But the doses to be used in a Canadian clinical trial failed to arrive, when the Chinese government — in the midst of political tensions with Canada — refused to issue an export permit for them.“I would not have put all our eggs in the basket of China,” O’Toole said Nov. 29, adding the timeline shows it wasn't until that deal fell apart that Canada "started getting serious with Pfizer, Moderna, the other options."Anand said that is not the case.She said the CanSino deal fell within Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains' portfolio, not her own, and nothing about the project prevented her from negotiating with other companies.Her marching orders to negotiate deals with other vaccine makers came weeks earlier. A team of procurement officials in her department was assigned to the file in March, at the same time as those negotiating contracts for medical supplies, personal protective equipment and rapid tests.In June, the COVID-19 vaccine task force provided a list of vaccines for Canada to pursue. Anand said talks with manufacturers began in early July. The first deal, with Massachusetts biotech firm Moderna, was struck July 24. Canada was first to sign with Moderna. It signed a contract with Pfizer and BioNTech a week later, on Aug. 1. It was the fourth country to do so, after the United Kingdom, the United States and Japan. News of trouble on the CanSino deal first appeared in early July when the doses still hadn't been approved for export by China. Canada walked away from the deal at the end of August when it became clear it would not happen.By then, Canada had deals with four other vaccine companies, including Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech, Johnson & Johnson, and NovaVax. It added deals with Sanofi/GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca in September and then with Canada's own Medicago the next month.Anand said Canada approached every contract with a similar goal — to get 20 million doses guaranteed, and options to potentially buy more later on. In all, Canada is paying more than $1 billion to the seven vaccine makers for 194 million doses, even if those vaccines never get beyond the experimental stage.Another 220 million doses are available if Canada asks for them, a decision that will be made for the vaccines that are proving to be the best. Anand announced Friday another 20 million doses will come to Canada in 2021 from Moderna, for a total of 40 million.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 5, 2020.Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press
Opponents of a planned correctional facility in Kemptville are organizing a Zoom meeting on Tuesday. "The recent public engagement session hosted by the Ministry of the Solicitor General provided one view of the issue; we think it is important for people to hear from other voices on this matter," said Victor Lachance, a member of the Coalition Against the Proposed Prison (CAPP) and the evening's moderator. The province plans to locate a 235-bed correctional facility on agricultural land in the community. The online meeting, dubbed an information session, will be held on Tuesday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. According to a press release issued by CAPP, participants at the event will hear from experts in the field of incarceration, prison reform, and construction, as well as an Indigenous political leader. Eight speakers are on the schedule, including: Kim Beaudin, Vice-Chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples; Bryonie Baxter, former executive director of the Elizabeth Fry Society of Ottawa; Paul Cormier, chairman of RANA Development Inc.; Marie-Therese Voutsinos, who will talk about the importance of preserving agricultural land; Aaron Doyle, associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Carleton University; Justin Piche, associate professor at the Department of Criminology at the University of Ottawa; and Kirk Albert, spokesperson for the local Jail Opposition Group. "Our goal is to emphasize a positive vision for the future of Kempville and North Grenville," said Lachance. CAPP is made up of a group of residents opposed to the planned construction of the Eastern Ontario Correctional Complex on 182 acres of farmland that was previously part of the Kemptville agricultural college. "It’s an important piece of the agriculture and farming heritage of the area," said Colleen Lynas, spokesperson for CAPP. According to the press release there will be a "robust" question-and-answer period following the presentations and anyone interested in participating is invited to register at email@example.com.Heddy Sorour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 7:30 p.m. ET on Friday, Dec. 4, 2020. There are 402,569 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Canada: 402,569 confirmed cases (69,977 active, 320,096 resolved, 12,496 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers. There were 6,300 new cases Friday from 86,410 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 7.3 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 43,505 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 6,215. There were 89 new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 602 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 86. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.23 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 33.24 per 100,000 people. There have been 11,826,099 tests completed. _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 343 confirmed cases (27 active, 312 resolved, four deaths). There were three new cases Friday from 304 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.99 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 12 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people. There have been 63,887 tests completed. _ Prince Edward Island: 73 confirmed cases (five active, 68 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Friday from 425 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of three new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 62,046 tests completed. _ Nova Scotia: 1,358 confirmed cases (117 active, 1,176 resolved, 65 deaths). There were 15 new cases Friday from 1,014 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 1.5 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 92 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 13. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people. There have been 151,573 tests completed. _ New Brunswick: 528 confirmed cases (111 active, 410 resolved, seven deaths). There were eight new cases Friday from 727 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 1.1 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 51 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is seven. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.9 per 100,000 people. There have been 104,518 tests completed. _ Quebec: 147,877 confirmed cases (13,145 active, 127,549 resolved, 7,183 deaths). There were 1,345 new cases Friday from 10,981 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 12 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 9,714 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,388. There were 28 new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 199 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 28. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.34 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 84.66 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,226,791 tests completed. _ Ontario: 123,526 confirmed cases (14,997 active, 104,792 resolved, 3,737 deaths). There were 1,780 new cases Friday from 54,170 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 3.3 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 12,310 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,759. There were 25 new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 142 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 20. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.14 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 25.65 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,251,327 tests completed. _ Manitoba: 18,069 confirmed cases (9,172 active, 8,535 resolved, 362 deaths). There were 318 new cases Friday from 3,075 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 10 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,437 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 348. There were nine new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 82 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 12. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.86 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 26.43 per 100,000 people. There have been 357,524 tests completed. _ Saskatchewan: 9,527 confirmed cases (4,116 active, 5,356 resolved, 55 deaths). There were 283 new cases Friday from 2,048 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 14 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,836 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 262. There was one new reported death Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 11 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.13 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 4.68 per 100,000 people. There have been 267,348 tests completed. _ Alberta: 64,851 confirmed cases (18,243 active, 46,018 resolved, 590 deaths). There were 1,828 new cases Friday from 6,850 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 27 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 11,746 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,678. There were 15 new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 71 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 10. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.23 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 13.5 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,502,472 tests completed. _ British Columbia: 36,132 confirmed cases (9,982 active, 25,658 resolved, 492 deaths). There were 711 new cases Friday from 6,753 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 11 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,248 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 750. There were 11 new reported deaths Friday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 97 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 14. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.27 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 9.7 per 100,000 people. There have been 822,120 tests completed. _ Yukon: 51 confirmed cases (11 active, 39 resolved, one deaths). There was one new case Friday from 34 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 2.9 per cent. Over the past seven days, there has been nine new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 5,522 tests completed. _ Northwest Territories: 15 confirmed cases (zero active, 15 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Friday from 29 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 6,511 tests completed. _ Nunavut: 206 confirmed cases (51 active, 155 resolved, zero deaths). There were eight new cases Friday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 47 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is seven. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 4,384 tests completed. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Dec. 4, 2020. The Canadian Press