In response to the Democratic nominee's statement, U.S. President Donald Trump said Biden would destroy the oil industry if elected president.
In response to the Democratic nominee's statement, U.S. President Donald Trump said Biden would destroy the oil industry if elected president.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump pardoned his former national security adviser Michael Flynn on Wednesday, ending a yearslong prosecution in the Russia investigation that saw Flynn twice plead guilty to lying to the FBI and then reverse himself before the Justice Department stepped in to dismiss his case.“It is my Great Honor to announce that General Michael T. Flynn has been granted a Full Pardon," Trump tweeted. “Congratulations to @GenFlynn and his wonderful family, I know you will now have a truly fantastic Thanksgiving!”The pardon, in the waning weeks of Trump's single term, is part of a broader effort by Trump to undo the results of a Russia investigation that shadowed his administration and yielded criminal charges against a half-dozen associates. It comes just months after the president commuted the sentence of another associate, Roger Stone, days before he was to report to prison.A Justice Department official said the department was not consulted on the pardon and learned Wednesday of the plan. But the official, who spoke on condition on anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, noted that the president has the legal power to pardon Flynn.The move is likely to energize supporters who have taken up Flynn as a cause celebre and rallied around the retired Army lieutenant general as the victim of what they assert is an unfair prosecution, even though Flynn twice admitted guilt. Trump has repeatedly spoken warmly about Flynn and, in an indication of his personal interest in his fate, asked then-FBI Director James Comey in February 2017 to end a criminal investigation into the national security adviser.In a statement, Flynn’s family thanked Trump “for answering our prayers and the prayers of a nation” by issuing the pardon.Democrats lambasted the pardon as undeserved and unprincipled. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called it “an act of grave corruption and a brazen abuse of power," while Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said a “pardon by Trump does not erase” the truth of Flynn's guilty plea, “no matter how Trump and his allies try to suggest otherwise.”“The President’s enablers have constructed an elaborate narrative in which Trump and Flynn are victims and the Constitution is subject to the whims of the president," House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler said in a statement. “Americans soundly rejected this nonsense when they voted out President Trump. ”The pardon is the final step in a case defined by twists and turns. The most dramatic came in May when the Justice Department abruptly moved to dismiss the case, insisting that Flynn should not have been interviewed by the FBI in the first place, only to have U.S. District Justice Emmet Sullivan resist the request and appoint a former judge to argue against the federal government's position and to evaluate whether Flynn should be held in criminal contempt for perjury.That former judge, John Gleeson, called the Justice Department's dismissal request an abuse of power and said its grounds for dropping the case were ever-evolving and “patently pretextual.”As Sullivan declined to immediately dismiss the prosecution, Flynn lawyer Sidney Powell sought to bypass the judge by asking a federal appeals court to direct him to drop the matter. A three-judge panel did exactly that, but the full court overturned that decision and sent case back to Sullivan.At a hearing in September, Powell told Sullivan that she had discussed Flynn's case with Trump but also said she did not want a pardon — presumably because she wanted him to be vindicated in the courts.Powell emerged separately in recent weeks as a public face of Trump's efforts to overturn the results of his election loss to President-elect Joe Biden, but the Trump legal team distanced itself from her after she advanced a series of uncorroborated conspiracy claims.The pardon spares Flynn the possibility of any prison sentence, which Sullivan could potentially have imposed had he ultimately rejected the Justice Department's dismissal request. That request was made after a review of the case by a federal prosecutor from St. Louis who had been specially appointed by Attorney General William Barr.At issue in the prosecution was an FBI interview of Flynn, days after Trump's inauguration, about a conversation he had during the presidential transition period with the then-Russian ambassador.Flynn acknowledged lying during that interview by saying he had not discussed with the diplomat, Sergey Kislyak, sanctions that the outgoing Obama administration had just been imposed on Russia for election interference. During that conversation, Flynn advised that Russia be “even-keeled” in response to the punitive measures, and assured him “we can have a better conversation” about relations between the countries after Trump became president.The conversation alarmed the FBI, which at the time was investigating whether the Trump campaign and Russia had co-ordinated to sway the election. In addition, White House officials were stating publicly that Flynn and Kislyak had not discussed sanctions, which the FBI knew was untrue.Flynn was ousted from his position in February 2017 after news broke that Obama administration officials had warned the White House that Flynn had indeed discussed sanctions with Kislyak and was vulnerable to blackmail. He pleaded guilty months later to a false statement charge.But last May, after years of defending the prosecution, the Justice Department abruptly reversed its position.It asserted the FBI had no basis to interview Flynn about Kislyak and that any statements he made during the interview were not material to the FBI's broader counterintelligence probe. The department also pointed to internal FBI notes showing agents had planned to close out the investigation weeks before interviewing Flynn about Kislyak.Flynn, of Middletown, Rhode Island, was among the first people charged in Mueller's investigation and provided such extensive co-operation that prosecutors did not recommend any prison time, leaving open the possibility of probation.But the morning he was to have been sentenced, after a stern rebuke about his behaviour from Sullivan, Flynn asked for the hearing to be cut short so that he could continue co-operating and earn credit toward a more lenient sentence.After that, he hired new attorneys — including Powell, a conservative commentator and outspoken critic of Mueller's investigation — who took a far more confrontational stance to the government and tried to withdraw his guilty plea.Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
SAN FRANCISCO — Some California counties are pushing ahead with plans to wind down a program that's moved homeless people into hotel rooms amid the coronavirus pandemic despite an emergency cash infusion from the state aimed at preventing people from returning to the streets in colder weather as the virus surges.Gov. Gavin Newsom recently announced $62 million for counties to move hotel guests into permanent housing or to extend hotel leases that were part of “Project Roomkey," which he rolled out this spring as a way to protect some people experiencing homelessness from the virus. The Federal Emergency Management Agency agreed to pick up 75% of the cost.But counties say that with federal relief funding expiring soon, it's time to transition residents from expensive hotel rooms to cheaper, more stable housing. Officials hope to offer a place to every resident leaving a hotel, though they acknowledge not everyone will accept it and affordable housing is difficult to find.California is one of several states, including Washington, that turned to hotels to shelter homeless people as the virus took hold. Homelessness has soared nationwide during the pandemic, and it was already at a crisis level in California because of an expensive housing market and a shortage of affordable options. The nation's most populated state has by far the highest number of people on the streets, though other places have a higher per capita rate.In San Francisco, advocacy groups and some officials are outraged by the mayor's plan to start moving hundreds of people out of hotels around the holidays. They say it’s ridiculous when thousands of people are still sleeping on sidewalks and in cars, and they don't believe the city can find enough virus-safe housing for 2,300 people living in more than two dozen hotels.“It makes absolute zero sense. It is outrageous, it’s irresponsible, and it basically tells people experiencing homelessness that you’re not a priority for the city,” Supervisor Hillary Ronen said as she and other leaders announced proposed legislation to slow the move and ensure every resident is offered alternative housing.The Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing said in a statement that money from the state will provide “more flexibility and time” but would not say if San Francisco had changed its timeline. The department has said it plans to move homeless people out of all 29 hotels by June.“We will continue to work with city staff and our service providers to deliver on our commitment to get people housed and ensure no one in our hotels gets moved back on the streets," the statement said.An estimated 150,000 people experiencing homelessness live in California, and there are signs that number will only increase with an economy ravaged by the pandemic. Newsom has awarded $800 million to cities and counties to buy hotels and other properties to convert into housing, saying he didn't want to squander an opportunity to get more people indoors.At times, connecting homeless people to shelter, work, medical care and social services boils down to finding them in time, and the hotels have been a huge help, advocates say. They say hotel residents have flourished with regular checkups and meals.“If this were to be taken away from us at this time, it really would be like having a carpet pulled out from under us in a really major way,” said hotel resident Nicholas Garrett, who appeared with the San Francisco supervisors.Dr. Danielle Alkov spoke of one of her patients, a transgender woman who has blossomed after being brought indoors. But her hotel is scheduled to be among the first to close.“She’s thriving, she’s engaged in medical care, she’s very future-thinking for probably the first time in a long time, thinking about her career goals, her educational goals,” Alkov said. “The idea of her not having a stable place to go, and losing all the progress that she’s made, would be devastating.”In Los Angeles, the Homeless Services Authority said nearly 600 people have moved out of hotel rooms and into interim housing, with 62 others in permanent housing. About 3,400 people remain in hotel rooms, and while the agency has received funding from the city to extend leases at several hotels, it will keep moving people into other housing, spokesman Christopher Yee said.Alameda County, which includes Oakland, hopes to use state money for rental subsidies and to extend leases on hotel rooms but will continue with plans to close five of nine hotels between December and February. Over 1,000 people are in hotels there.It's much more cost-effective to use the money “for permanent housing with leases than to continue the hotel program indefinitely," said Kerry Abbott, director of the county’s Office of Homeless Care and Coordination. And while some people have chosen to return to a shelter, “our goal is to make sure everyone has a housing offer. Most people will take a housing offer."The hotels won't go away entirely. Abbott said the county plans to operate a 98-room quarantine and isolation hotel for six months next year and keep an additional 240 hotel rooms open through 2021 for residents who require the extra care.By year's end, Sacramento County plans to close trailers housing 46 people either recovering from the virus or awaiting test results. But county spokeswoman Janna Haynes said shelter hotels will stay open through early next year and nobody will be forced to leave without a place to go.Even though the program is ending, Abbott, of Alameda County, says people have benefited deeply, with some able to start addressing issues that have kept them out of stable housing.“Many people have been inside for the first time in a decade or longer, and have stayed inside, and have benefited from a place to stay, the services and the food and even the community our providers have put in place," she said.Janie Har, The Associated Press
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 Nov. 17 regular Crowsnest Pass council meeting saw council discuss and vote on a handful of agenda items. Senior housing The meeting began with a 2021 budget update from Crowsnest Senior Housing. The budget was very preliminary as uncertainties surrounding Alberta Health Services and Covid-19 funding have yet to be confirmed. Revenue estimates for 2021 were based on the centre having four vacancies, even though currently vacancies sit at 13. A similar situation with seven vacancies resolved itself last year, so staff are optimistic residents will fill the vacancies again this year. One additional vacancy reduces rent revenue by about $18,000 to $20,000. A finalized budget will be in place by January. The housing board requested that, going forward, annual budgets be presented in January as it is difficult for staff to compile a budget when data has yet to be collected for the remaining months of the year. Rather than compiling a complete budget before year’s end, Crowsnest Senior Housing will make a year-to-date presentation in October to keep council informed. So far, the Peaks to Pines senior centre is about halfway through construction, though it is not anticipated to be completed until the summer of 2021. Land redesignation After no issues were raised during the public hearing, council passed second and third reading of Bylaw 1057, 2020, a land-use bylaw redesignation. The bylaw will rezone a property in Coleman from a recreation and open space (RO-1) designation to residential (R-1). The rezoning comes about after administration received a development permit application for a residential addition to the property. It was discovered that part of the land was designated as residential while the other was set aside for recreation and open space. After going through municipal records and past council meeting minutes, it was determined the split zoning was a mistake. Health and wellness Council agreed to make a few minor changes to the municipality’s health and wellness spending account, Policy 1810-02. The biggest change involves allowing employees to submit reimbursement receipts throughout the year. Previously, claims could be made only once a year. Other changes included adding employee leave as a reason to prorate benefits and including a new category on health apps. Club rent rates The meeting concluded with a lengthy discussion on rates the municipality charges clubs to rent municipal facilities. For detailed coverage, please see Crowsnest Pass Council Debates Rent Rates, posted online at www.shootinthebreeze.ca. Next meeting The next regular council meeting will be held Tuesday, Dec. 1, at 7 p.m. at the MDM Community Centre. Agendas are available on the municipality’s website at https://bit.ly/CNPagenda.Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze
After months of boredom and frustration, two Alaskan girls are excited they can go back to classes just across the border in B.C. — a school run that had until recently been impossible due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.On Oct. 30, Ottawa began to allow cross-border students to attend school on the other side of the Canada-U.S. border, as long as they're taken there and back by the same driver.Monday was the first day in this academic year Nick Korpela drove his daughters Hilma and Ellie from their home in Hyder, Alaska, to Bear Valley School in Stewart, B.C., where Americans' attendance has been approved by School District 82."The kids seemed to be really bouncing around quite a bit. I didn't know how the teacher is going to be able to get them to sit in their chair," Korpela told Dominika Lirette, guest host of CBC's Radio West.Hilma, 10, and eight-year-old Ellie were two of five children in their U.S. hometown, population 63, stuck at home despite their Canadian school being only three kilometres away. Hyder, situated in the Alaskan panhandle, is not connected by road to the rest of the state. Both girls said they were happy and excited to see their classmates and teachers again. "It was nice to play with more friends," Ellie said.The two girls would have been able to return to school earlier but had been denied access by Canadian border officers.Korpela says he tried to take the children to school on Nov. 16 but the Canada Border Services Agency officer in charge, despite knowing their purpose for crossing the border, wouldn't allow it.But Korpela said on Sunday he received a voice message from CBSA telling him he was now permitted to take the two girls to the Stewart school.When CBSA was asked why Korpela and his daughters were initially denied entry, it deferred to the Public Health Agency of Canada. PHAC has been contacted for comment. Tap the link below to listen to the Korpelas' interview on Radio West:
The president of the Canadian Labour Congress is hoping Joe Biden’s efforts while in office will put pressure on Canada and the provinces to “move much faster” in adopting ambitious climate and employment policies. Hassan Yussuff said he felt Biden, the United States president-elect, has been signalling that he’s determined to take the climate crisis seriously, and there is now widespread recognition in the U.S. that there can be millions of new jobs for workers in a low-carbon economy — with the right government leadership and significant investments. “I’m hoping with the new administration, there will be accelerated and aggressive action to get back into the game as quickly as possible. And I think that will help Canada recognize that we only have one choice here: We’ve got to set some very hard targets that are going to need to be achieved,” said Yussuff. The labour leader, who co-chaired a federal task force that looked at how to fairly provide for workers in coal mines and coal-fired power plants across Canada as the government moves to end coal power nationwide, also said setting climate targets will have to go hand-in-hand with developing a strategy around protecting workers. “An absence of that will put people’s livelihoods in jeopardy,” he said. “We’ve got to create jobs to replace the jobs that might be lost in the transitional period ... I’m hoping their (Biden’s) strong leadership and aggressive leadership can certainly boost the efforts here at the provincial and federal level to say, ‘Hey, we’ve got to move much faster,’ because our American friends are going to keep the pressure on Canada." On Tuesday, Biden and vice-president-elect Kamala Harris announced their administration’s national security and foreign policy positions, naming former secretary of state John Kerry to the post of presidential envoy for climate change. Biden said Kerry would sit on the National Security Council, bringing a climate perspective to the White House Situation Room. Kerry is credited with helping negotiate the Paris climate accord, and has a long history of working on environmental issues, from representing the U.S. at international climate summits to working on bipartisan climate change legislation in the U.S. Senate. In a short speech after Biden introduced him, Kerry wasted no time putting foreign nations on notice, saying, “No country alone can solve this challenge” and that “to end this crisis, the whole world must come together.” At next year’s international climate conference in Glasgow, Kerry said, “all nations must raise ambition together, or we will all fail together. And failure is not an option.” “The road ahead is exciting, actually — it means creating millions of middle-class jobs, it means less pollution in our air and oceans. It means making life healthier for citizens across the world. And it means we will strengthen the security of every nation in the world,” said Kerry. Any broad-based U.S. climate action is going to have an impact on Canada, as the largest foreign supplier of crude oil to the U.S., noted Yussuff. Canada accounts for almost half, or 48 per cent, of U.S. crude oil imports and over a fifth of U.S. refinery input. The U.S., in turn, is practically Canada’s only oil customer: 98 per cent of Canada’s oil exports flow south across the border. Biden said during the presidential debate that his intention was to “transition from the oil industry ... over time” to renewable energy, and his platform called for the U.S. to achieve net-zero carbon pollution “no later than 2050.” Last week, the Trudeau government tabled Bill C-12, which, if passed, would require that Canada set national carbon emissions targets every five years from 2030 until it reaches net-zero emissions in 2050. Canada already has a 2030 emissions reduction target — reducing emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels — that federal government projections have shown the country will overshoot unless more is done to cut pollution. Nevertheless, the Trudeau government committed in the last election campaign to exceed that 2030 target, although it has not yet explained exactly how it will get there. The bill also requires the government to draw up emissions reduction plans for achieving the targets, and provides a range of public reporting requirements to demonstrate progress, as well as an advisory body tasked with providing advice to the minister. Advocates say the bill itself will create a powerful legal incentive that could help Canada finally achieve its targets after missing every one since 1992. Yussuff said it was clear that any greenhouse gas reduction plan from the federal government will necessarily impact fossil fuel employment in some way, although it was difficult to judge precisely how without a target and a timeline in place. He said federal and provincial governments will need to outline how they intend to assist workers going forward. The Task Force on Just Transition for Canadian Coal Power Workers and Communities that he co-chaired toured facilities, visited communities and met with workers. It discovered a pervasive fear over the impact to communities of a coal shutdown, as well as deep mistrust and suspicion of government and a frustration over being labelled as dirty. The group recommended significant federal spending on new infrastructure and financial, jobs and training programs for workers. The lessons learned from that task force include the importance of starting early, said Yussuff, and creating an inventory of skills that workers currently have, as well as identifying who is likely to retire before facilities close or are converted to other technology. Some of those workers will need a bridge to retirement, which could mean better support on the company pension plan, while others will need updated skills where governments could provide support for new programs. It was important to get the ball rolling while workers are still at their current jobs, he said. Carl Meyer / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National ObserverCarl Meyer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
Les amateurs de sports nautiques ont peut-être remarqué la présence de nouvelles stations de prises de données en bordure des cours d’eau de plusieurs municipalités du Grand Montréal, dont près d’une dizaine sur la Rive-Sud, ces derniers mois. On peut en apercevoir une entre autres sur le fleuve, aux limites de Boucherville et des iles de Varennes ainsi qu’une autre face aux marinas de Longueuil. Installées par l’équipe de la Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal dans le cadre de ses travaux sur la gestion des inondations, ces stations sont composées de plusieurs éléments qui sont également bien visibles de la rive : un boitier avec caméra et panneau solaire, des règles limnimétriques et des sondes à pression (ces espèces de ballons jaunes flottant sur l’eau). Les composantes de chaque station de mesure sont fixées sur des supports en acier galvanisé à chaud fabriqués sur mesure grâce à un système d’ancrage métallique dense. Elles ont pour mission de mesurer les niveaux d’eau, qui sont ensuite transmis à des serveurs informatiques et diffusés sur le futur site Web de prévisions Crues Grand Montréal. En cours de développement, ce site sera accessible tant aux citoyens qu’aux experts. Il suffira d’entrer une adresse pour obtenir la hauteur d’eau en temps réel, l’historique des données et les prévisions pour les trois jours suivants. Ces statistiques serviront à mieux connaitre les variations du niveau des eaux, pour mieux établir aussi les niveaux de risque d’inondation, selon les données recueillies. MIEUX PROTÉGER LES PERSONNES ET LES BIENS Au total, 29 stations de mesure ont été installées dans les principaux cours d’eau métropolitains, soit le fleuve Saint-Laurent, le lac des Deux-Montagnes et les rivières des Outaouais, des Prairies, des Mille-Îles, Saint-Jacques, du côté de Brossard et Richelieu.François Laramée, Initiative de journalisme local, La Relève
School divisions were unprepared for the announcement that thousands of Alberta students would be temporarily vacating the classroom in a bid to slow the spread of COVID-19, says Trisha Estabrooks, chair of the Edmonton Public School Board. As announced by Premier Jason Kenney during a public briefing on Tuesday, students in Grade 7 to Grade 12 will move to online learning for three weeks starting Monday. Estabrooks said school divisions received "not one inkling" of advance warning. The first time she heard about the measures was on Tuesday night, as the school board paused its regular public meeting to watch Kenney's news conference. Estabrooks said school divisions should have been forewarned about the changes. "We learned about it at the same time the public did," Estabrooks said in an interview Wednesday with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM. "We didn't get a heads up. We didn't get a quick phone call from the minister, saying, 'Hey, this is what's going to happen.'" Kenney described the new restrictions as a "bold and targeted" attempt to limit the spread of COVID-19, as Alberta reported a record 1,115 new cases of the disease and declared a public health emergency. "There's very limited transmission within the schools, but more community transmission is affecting the schools and their ability to operate," Kenney said Tuesday. "Teenagers are much more likely to transmit the virus than younger children. A longer period away from school for these older students will help to reduce broader community transmission." Despite the lack of warning from government officials, Estabrooks said school administrators were quietly bracing for possible restrictions in the classroom. She said the changes ahead are daunting but the school board will be ready to welcome students online on Monday. "I think back to the situation we were in in the spring and ... that was a really quick, and really turbulent, pivot. We learned a lot," she said. "The reality is, we have something like 32,000 students already learning online. In a very short two months, Edmonton Public Schools has got the technology and got our teachers up to speed. "I'm not going to say it's going to be completely smooth, but certainly I know that staff and administration have learned from the experiences of the last few months." I'm supportive of yesterday's decision, as tough as it is going to be. - Trisha Estabrooks The change to online learning for junior-high and high-school students is among a series of new measures that will have an impact on Alberta classrooms. Beginning Nov. 30, all students in Grades 7-12 will immediately transition to online learning until they begin their winter break. In-person learning for all students will be delayed a week until Jan. 11. Diploma exams are now optional for the rest of the school year. Estabrooks said she has no doubt the new measures are the "right decision." Many Alberta schools are already nearing their breaking point. 'A step in the right direction' "I look at the trajectory of the number of cases and the burden that was being put on our teachers, our staff, our entire system over the last couple of weeks. And this absolutely is a step in the right direction. "I'm supportive of yesterday's decision, as tough as it is going to be for all those thousands of junior-high and high-school students." A report from the Edmonton Public School Board on the impact of COVID-19 on the first quarter of the school year showed 10,500 students and 1,075 staff were recommended or required to self-isolate. Cases were found in 111 of the division's 215 schools. Tuesday's public school board meeting was dominated by concerns over the spread of COVID-19 in local classrooms, a lack of detailed data on in-classroom transmission, and an apparent breakdown in the contact-tracing system in Alberta classrooms. School symptoms Estabrooks said school finances are strained. Teachers, students and their families are exhausted. Schools are seeing a "sharp increase" in the number of students and staff in isolation and that's put an added strain on staffing, she said. Last week alone, 3,000 students and 335 staff had been forced into isolation at home, Estabrooks said. On Tuesday, with substitute teachers in high demand, more than 100 teaching positions were left unfilled. "That to me, is one of the one of the symptoms of how COVID-19 is really being reflected in our schools," she said. In a statement to CBC News, the Edmonton Catholic School Division said it supports supports the premier's decision to move older students online and to make diploma exams optional. "In the past few weeks we have seen a steady increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in all levels, including junior and senior high," reads the statement, which will be send to parents later Wednesday. "While this increase mirrors the higher numbers of COVID cases in the community, it places additional pressures on staffing to ensure the continuity of learning for all students. "We agree that elementary students should remain in school as we are better able to serve our youngest learners. "The extension of the Christmas break for students in kindergarten to Grade 12 may provide a necessary break in the transmission of COVID-19." Estabrooks urged Albertans to help contain the spread of the virus. She said community transmission is putting pressure on local classrooms. If the virus continues to escalate, students will continue to face disruptions in their education. "If we have any hope of sending our children back to in-person classes on Jan. 11, let's do our part," she said. "Let's listen to what was announced yesterday so that we can open these schools back up. Because, really, that is the best situation where we can have — students in person, with their friends, with their teachers."
During November, best friends and entrepreneurs Kara Anderson and Jewell-Ihea Jensen officially opened the doors to their enchanted beauty studio in downtown Belleville. On Tuesday, November 24th, city councillor Bill Sandison and executive director of the Belleville Downtown District BIA Marijo Cuerrier welcomed the new business at a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Located at 1 Bridge St. East, Bewitched Beauty Studio is now open for clients seeking non-surgical beauty treatments and body modifications. This dynamic duo had a goal of opening a salon that makes body contouring services attainable for everyone, with pricing reflecting the attainable vision, and decided that the Downtown District in Belleville was the perfect place to plant their roots. “We choose downtown because it has a strong community of businesses and we feel very passionately about collaboration,” said Anderson. “We hope to work with other businesses downtown to support and promote each other.” After launching the business six months ago from their homes, Jensen and Anderson quickly experienced increasing demand and sought out a larger, professional space better fit for their clients’ needs. “We wanted to create a studio that offered affordable and attainable beauty treatments for all,” explained Jensen. “We knew there was a gap in the market for these types of treatments being accessible to a wider group of women, so it was important to us to make these enhancements accessible for women to feel good.” Anderson and Jensen are independent young women with a passion for helping other women love themselves, and are committed to continuing to expand their range of knowledge in the aesthetics field. The two entrepreneurs strive for professionalism and excellent customer service, offering an array of services including body contouring, teeth whitening, eyelash extensions, and jade healing treatments and facials. The studio performs non-surgical body modifications such as skin tightening, fat reduction, micro-blading, spray tan and butt lifting. Residents interested in learning more about Bewitched Beauty Studio can visit bewitchedbeautystudio.ca for more information about their services.Virginia Clinton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Intelligencer
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
Nathan Hann has been a long-time member of GoodLife in Grimsby, and lately has been seeing a lot of new faces at the gym on 9 Industrial Drive. Hann, a health-care professional and pharmacist by trade, said he began noticing changes at the gym just as restrictions in Hamilton increased, limiting the number of people allowed to book appointments at gyms and fitness centres as the region moved from orange to red under the province’s COVID-19 alert system. “When I have been going to book an appointment, I have been noticing that it has been really full and I haven’t been able to get in. I gave GoodLife a call to ask why, and they told me a lot of Hamilton people are coming down to the gym.” The potential influx of gym-goers from Hamilton, where cases of COVID-19 are higher than here in Niagara, has Hann concerned, not just for his own personal safety, but also about the potential spread of the virus across regions, as people living in areas with higher restrictions travel to cities with fewer limitations. In Niagara, which currently sits in the orange ‘restrict’ category, a maximum of 50 people are allowed in gyms at a time, while in Hamilton, the number is 10. Hann said he has already seen the impact first-hand. “I know people who usually go to the Hamilton location, they are all coming to the Grimsby location now, because they can’t get into the extremely limited appointment slots available in Hamilton. “My concern is that if they keep doing this, then Niagara is going to get hit even harder than we already are.” Tracy Matthews, vice-president of operations for GoodLife Fitness, said with gyms in Hamilton still open, the company has currently not placed any restrictions on members, and which locations they may choose to visit. "Gyms in Hamilton are not closed, and we did not ask Hamilton members to limit travel because their gyms are still open.” Matthews did add though that in previous situations where gyms have closed in certain regions across the province such as the GTA, GoodLife has placed members living in those areas on a temporary freeze, asking they refrain from visiting clubs outside of their region. With gyms and fitness centres still open in Hamilton though, GoodLife members are free to travel to other locations in Grimsby, or anywhere in Niagara where booking an appointment is easier, and spaces are more plentiful. Of course, that could change if Hamilton is moved into the lockdown measures currently seen in the GTA, or if GoodLife updates its policies as conditions develop, something Matthews said is possible in the future. “We will continue to review and update policies and procedures where needed to ensure we are providing our members with the best experience possible while meeting or exceeding government and public health protocols in relation to health and safety." In the meantime, Hann said he will continue to take all safety precautions necessary, including wearing a mask at all times, and keeping distance from other members, adding that he continues to see potential public health risks with a system that puts people in a position to move from region to region during a pandemic. “The virus is not going to spread on its own. It is only going to go where people take it. By putting people in a position where they travel outside of their region, it is really just creating the possibility for more cases in Niagara.” Story behind the story With COVID-19 restrictions being increased in Hamilton, reporter Bryan Levesque looked at the impact on gyms in Grimsby, where some have concerns that an increase in Hamilton visitors could lead to further spread of the virus in Niagara.Bryan Levesque, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grimsby Lincoln News
The response was immediate and huge after Erin Quiroga asked on Facebook if there would be a fundraiser for typhoon victims in the Philippines. Seven Filipinos in Jasper have family members in the Philippines who have been directly affected by Typhoon Rolly, hit the country from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2, and Typhoon Ulysses from Nov. 11 to 12. Michael Oregines, media relations officer for the group that organized the fundraiser, said a couple of provinces in the Philippines had been hit hard. "Imagine when the rescuers were in helicopters, trying to find people in low light, and were asking people to shout or turn on their cell phone flash lights," he said. "People were sitting on their roofs, trying to be safe." As soon as notice of a fundraising bottle drive posted on Facebook group Jasper Buy, Sell & Trade, organizers started getting responses from people straight away that they had bottles at businesses and addresses that could be picked up. Clara Adriano led the bottle drive with Kathleen Bautista and Daren De Guzman, treasurer. And the fundraising didn’t stop there. Organizers asked Filipino families to donate $10 apiece per household. But when they went to collect the money, those donations ranged from $10 to $200, and were not only from the Filipinos. "Everybody supports the cause - the full community," Adriano said. Lito and Kathleen Bautista sold homemade Filipino food and money was donated to the fundraiser. Chowie Ismaili, a staff member at the Alpine Summit Seniors Lodge, and her Filipino colleagues donated prizes for a raffle draw with proceeds from the raffle being donated to the fundraising effort. Rodelita Rabago is also donating 100 per cent of her profits from selling breads and pastries from a bakery in Edmonton. Frank Marcojos, group leader of the Tim Hortons Jasper Family, collected a total of $1,100 within the group. Adriano said Marcojos' family was helped by a Filipino fundraiser in 2013. "He said that he will always be thankful for that," Adriano noted. "And this is the reason why we do what we do. His message keeps us motivated." So far, the group has raised $8,035: $2,100 from the bottle drive and $5,935 from monetary donations, the raffle, food sales and bread sales. The group will continue to raise funds into the first week of December. Some of the money raised will go to the local families whose family members in the Philippines were affected by the typhoons. The rest will go to organizers in the Philippines to provide clean water, food, blankets, and personal hygiene items. "There are many who lost their homes," Oregines said, "so they need basic essentials." Once a connection has been set up between Jasper and organizers in the Philippines, the community will be updated about how the donations were applied. "We're emotional about the support," Adriano said. "This is how the Filipinos have been every time there has been a typhoon in the Philippines. We just come together. "It's the same with our beautiful town and all the Jasperites. "We are truly thankful for the trust and support that our small community has given to us. Our hearts are overflowing with gratitude and joy."Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh
MILAN — Though the first real snow has yet to fall across much of Europe, ski buffs are imagining with dread a once-unthinkable scene: Skiing in Zermatt in Switzerland while lifts idle across the border in Italy's Aosta valley.The leaders of Italy and France are resisting pressure to reopen ski resorts before Christmas, pushing for European co-ordination so their industries don’t suffer during the pandemic while others flourish. But the Alpine countries of Switzerland and Austria could well be spoilers.Ski resorts were one of the major sources of contagion in the deadly spring surge of COVID-19.So far, restrictions to slow the curve of infections have kept lifts closed in Italy, France, Germany and Austria, as well as countries further east. But skiers are already heading to mountains in Switzerland, drawing an envious gaze from ski industry and local officials in mountain regions elsewhere on the continent who lost most of last season due to the virus. They are warning of irreversible economic damage if they are not permitted to open this season.Both Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte and French President Emmanuel Macron said this week that pre-Christmas openings are unthinkable. While such skiing luminaries as world and Olympic champion Alberto Tomba argue that it is an individual sport conducted in the open air, the leaders point to the risks of contagion in crowded lift lines and lodges, as well as closed cable cars.Top health officials in Italy appeared aghast when they were asked at a briefing Tuesday about the prospects for opening ski season, minutes after they had just reported a resurgence-high 853 deaths in a 24-hour period.“I admit I have a difficult time inside commenting on arguments relating to ski areas and what will happen at Christmas, thinking about these numbers,’’ said Dr. Franco Locatelli, head of Italy’s national scientific council.French mountain industry representatives met with the French prime minister Monday to press to be able to reopen, but apparently their pleas weren’t heard.“It seems impossible to me to imagine a reopening for the holidays, and much more preferable to favour reopening in January, in good conditions,’’ Macron said as he laid out plans Tuesday night for a gradual easing of the current lockdown.Plans for reopening also remain on ice in the eastern countries of Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic — although Serbia is prepping for the winter season in full swing, as if COVID-19 did not exist, counting on both domestic and foreign visitors.Austria, whose current lockdown runs through Dec. 6, has been for months saying that it hoped to reopen the slopes this season and rejected Italy’s idea of keeping them closed until Jan. 10. On Wednesday, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz pushed back against calls to write off this year’s ski season because of the pandemic.In Bavaria, Germany’s largest ski destination, Governor Markus Soeder supported the idea, saying that if Europe’s borders are to remain open through the Christmas season there will have to be some sort of a blanket rule on keeping resorts closed.In Switzerland, lifts are indeed in operation on Zermatt, next to the famed Matterhorn, and eastern Davos, near Austria. The famed resort of St. Moritz, a favourite destination for well-heeled Italians, is set to open about 60% of slopes this weekend.But much of the fun of skiing getaways is missing: Zermatt's slopes may be open, but its restaurants are not — meaning a warm cocoa, mulled wine or cold beer at pubs or eateries after mountain runs is out.So far, just 10% of the country’s 250 ski stations are open as only the highest altitudes have gotten enough snow, according to Switzerland Tourism spokeswoman Veronique Kanel. She said she didn't expect a flood of foreign skiers, noting strict travel rules still in place in many countries.An official in the Swiss health ministry said Switzerland plans to join a discussion among officials from Alpine countries in the coming days on co-ordinating a plan for relaunching the ski season.“Clearly the situation is complicated: It’s difficult to have only one country open its ski slopes when others close theirs. There needs to be co-ordination,” said the official on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.___Keaten contributed from Geneva. Angela Charlton in Paris and Dave Rising in Berlin also contributed.___Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreakColleen Barry And Jamey Keaten, The Associated Press
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
SAUGERTIES, N.Y. — Rocky the stowaway owl is back in the wild.The tiny Saw-whet owl was named Rockefeller after it was found by a worker setting up the holiday tree Nov. 16 at Manhattan’s Rockefeller Center. The owl was apparently trapped in the 75-foot-tall (23-meter-tall) Norway spruce when it was cut down 170 miles (275 kilometres) north, in upstate New York on Nov. 12.The female owl, initially thought to be male, was uninjured but hadn't eaten for at least three days when she was discovered and sent to Ravensbeard Wildlife Center in the Hudson Valley town of Saugerties. There, a rehabilitator nursed her back to health for a week with plenty of mice before Rocky was cleared to continue her migratory journey south.On Tuesday evening, rehabilitator Ellen Kalish held the winsome raptor aloft in a field against a backdrop of rounded mountains. In a video posted on Ravensbeard's Facebook page, Rocky sits quietly on Kalish's fingers before winging her way over to a nearby grove of pines.“She is a tough little bird and we’re happy to see her back in her natural habitat,” the centre wrote on Facebook. “We are sure that Rocky will feel your love and support through her journey south.”___This story has been corrected to show the Rockefeller Christmas tree is 75 feet (23 metres) tall, not 71 feet (22 metres) tall.The Associated Press
As Glenn Somers prepared to testify this week at the inquest into lumberjack Mario Roy's death in the woods at Saint-Quentin, he still didn't understand how the accident could have happened to someone with Roy's experience.Somers is the owner of maple syrup company TDG Somers, where Roy was cutting down trees with an electric saw when one of the cut trees fell and struck him on Sept. 7, 2018. Roy's friend and colleague André Bouchard found him with severe injuries to his face and chest. Roy died later that day.The inquest being held by coroner Jérome Ouellette began this week at the Edmundston Convention Centre. The jury is expected to make recommendations later Wednesday.Somers, whose company owns the woods, said he can't understand how a lumberjack like Roy could have made a mistake limbing trees. "The safety rule was established a long time ago," Somers told Radio-Canada. "There is no lumberjack who should ever continue limbing a tree after having cut one down that is resting on another tree."Despite his own questions, Somers said he believes the inquest is a waste of time and money, and thinks it will only open wounds about the tragedy. Roy's sister, Angèle Roy, hopes the inquest will allow her to mourn her brother. "He was experienced, so we don't understand," she said. She is optimistic the recommendations coming out of the inquest will lead to stricter safety guidelines for the maple syrup industry.
Le feuilleton du redécoupage électoral qui a occupé Rimouski pendant des mois vient de prendre fin, et son épilogue soulagera les résidents du Bic : la Commission de la représentation électorale (CRE) a décidé que ce district conservera ses limites actuelles, qui sont celles de l’ancienne municipalité annexée par Rimouski en 2009. Pour justifier sa décision, la CRE dit avoir considéré « les commentaires émis par les électeurs du district numéro 11 du Bic relatifs au sentiment d’appartenance à leur quartier ainsi qu’au respect et à la préservation de l’identité villageoise et patrimoniale du Bic ». L’éloignement entre Le Bic et le centre-ville de Rimouski a également joué dans la réflexion des deux commissaires Pierre Reid et Serge Courville. Si le caractère villageois du Bic a été largement évoqué tout au long des consultations sur la nouvelle carte électorale, les résidents du district voisin de Sacré-Cœur ont également fait valoir leur sentiment d’appartenance depuis le début de cette saga. Eux aussi peuvent souffler : la CRE considère que les districts de Sacré-Cœur et du Bic forment des communautés naturelles distinctes, et qu’on ne peut donc transférer une partie rurale du premier vers le deuxième. « Il a été démontré que les liens socioéconomiques des citoyennes et des citoyens du district numéro 1 de Sacré-Cœur sont davantage tournés vers les secteurs centraux de la Ville de Rimouski », écrit la CRE dans sa décision. Cette décision porte l’écart de population entre le district du Bic et la moyenne des autres districts de Rimouski à 34,4 %, bien au-delà de la limite de 15 % prescrite par la loi. Du côté de Sainte-Blandine/Mont-Lebel, autre district rural particulièrement affecté par le redécoupage, la CRE a entériné la proposition de la Ville de Rimouski. Celle-ci agrandit le territoire du district tout en lui conférant un statut d’exception, puisque l’écart de population avec la moyenne des autres districts est de 25,8 %. Défaite pour la Ville Avec cette décision, la CRE a infligé ce qui a toutes les apparences d’une défaite cinglante à la Ville de Rimouski, tant celle-ci s’est obstinée pendant des mois à défendre l’agrandissement du district du Bic en dépit de l’opposition des citoyens. De nombreux avis publics et présentations ont été produits pour défendre coûte que coûte ce projet alors qu’il ne s’est jamais trouvé aucun résident de Rimouski pour donner son appui aux différents redécoupages proposés. Cet épisode laisse surtout l’impression d’un gâchis de temps et de ressources, puisqu’on en revient à une situation très proche du statu quo en faveur duquel avaient voté deux conseillers début mai, Grégory Thorez (Sainte-Odile) et Virginie Proulx (Le Bic). La conseillère du Bic s’est réjouie de ce dénouement sur sa page Facebook ce matin, tout en félicitant les citoyens qui se sont mobilisés au cours des derniers mois. « C’est une victoire pour la démocratie, une victoire qui montre encore une fois la pertinence de consulter ses citoyens en amont des décisions au bénéfice de tous », écrit-elle. Mais il est clair que c’est aussi une victoire personnelle pour elle : elle fut la seule à s’opposer au règlement actant le redécoupage et le déplacement de la frontière Bic/Sacré-Cœur, tout comme elle fut la seule à informer de manière proactive les citoyens de son district sur les impacts du redécoupage et sur les manières de le contester. Incidemment, on peut conclure de la décision de la CRE qu’il existe bel et bien une corrélation entre le district électoral et le « district d’appartenance », contrairement à ce que prétendait le maire de Rimouski Marc Parent lors de la consultation publique de la CRE. « Lorsque les conseillers et les conseillères siègent au conseil municipal, c’est d’abord et avant tout pour la Ville de Rimouski qu’ils siègent, et non pas pour les électeurs qu’ils représentent dans leur district », avait même déclaré M. Parent, contredisant ce qui est écrit dans le Guide d’accueil et de référence pour les élues et les élus municipaux du gouvernement du Québec. Finalement, c’est peut-être cela que la saga du redécoupage aura permis de rappeler : le rôle d’un conseiller municipal est avant tout de représenter son quartier et ses habitants, avec leur diversité mais aussi leur histoire commune.Rémy Bourdillon, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Mouton Noir
As controversial as he was talented, Maradona is a gigantic loss for the beautiful game. View on euronews
L’Alliance du corridor ferroviaire Estrie-Montérégie n’est pas inquiétée par l’augmentation de la vitesse des trains de Canadien Pacifique (CP) sur le réseau des Chemins de fer du centre du Maine et du Québec (CMQ) annoncée plus tôt cette semaine. L’entreprise a assuré à l’ACFEM et ses municipalités membres que la sécurité est au cœur de leurs préoccupations. «Je sais qu’ils ont mis beaucoup d’argent pour sécuriser les rails pour amener les trains à un niveau plus rapide, soit de 25 miles à l’heure à 40 miles à l’heure. Ils me l’ont garanti, qu’ils ont à cœur la sécurité», commente le président du sous-comité sur la sécurité ferroviaire de l’ACFEM, également préfet de Brome-Missisquoi et maire de Farnham, Patrick Melchior. Si Transport Canada a donné son accord à CP pour que la compagnie ferroviaire augmente la vitesse de ses trains, c’est que les rails sont sécuritaires, ajoute le président de l’ACFEM et maire de Bromont, Louis Villeneuve. Il souligne également que le train ne roulera pas toujours à 64 km/h, précisant qu’il y a des sections où le train devra ralentir. Par exemple, le train circulera toujours à 16 km/h dans le secteur de Lac-Mégantic. Plus de capacité La question qui turlupine davantage M. Melchior est le nombre de trains qui passeront chaque jour. L’achalandage augmentera-t-il au cours des mois à venir? C’est ce que laissait entendre l’entreprise dans un communiqué en parlant de capacité supplémentaire. «Comme maire de Farnham, s’il y a plus d’achalandage, ça veut dire plus de trains dans la gare de triage, plus de trains aux passages à niveau. Déjà, on passe beaucoup de temps en arrêt aux passages à niveau puisque le chemin de fer scinde la ville en deux. Des fois, on peut être arrêté pendant 12 à 15 minutes en attendant que le triage se fasse.» Il n’a pas obtenu de réponse claire à ce sujet de la part de CP jusqu’à présent, mais entend bien suivre le dossier de près.Cynthia Laflamme, Initiative de journalisme local, La Voix de l'Est
The holiday season is quickly approaching, and as residents of Quinte West make their lists and check them twice, holiday gifts that promote social distancing and staying home may be tricky. During the spring when the coronavirus first forced residents indoors, board games and puzzles were flying off the shelves. As the second wave of COVID-19 progresses into the colder months, indoor games and activities are expected to be popular items this holiday season. Mindful of the global pandemic, Canadian owned and operated Outset Media has partnered with Walmart Canada to launch limited-edition board games that bring fun to families by creating Canadian city-based board games. The Quinte West community is fortunate enough to be celebrated in Belleville-Opoly and Trenton-Opoly. Similar to the classic Monopoly games, Belleville-Opoly and Trenton-Opoly’s property spots highlight crucial aspects of the Quinte West community. Belleville-Opoly features properties like Zwick’s Centennial Parks and Trails, Downtown Belleville, The Empire Theatre, Glanmore National Historic Site, Burger Revolution and many more beloved spots throughout the community. On the Trenton-Opoly board, players will notice properties such as the National Air Force Museum of Canada, the Trent Port Marina, Trent Port Museum and other historically rich landmarks. Outset Media is thrilled that Trenton and Belleville have been selected to be featured in this exciting, limited-edition game. “Outset Media is excited to help families across Canada celebrate where they live. These games were created to help people appreciate some things they cherish about their community,” said senior vice-president of Outset Media, Jean-Paul Teskey. “We are grateful that families and friends all over the country have made us part of the time they spend together during the holidays.” Based on the best-selling game of all time, Monopoly, Belleville-Opoly and Trenton-Opoly draw attention to some of the great features and rich history of Quinte West. These Onset Media board games are available now at local Walmarts or online at walmart.ca.Virginia Clinton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Intelligencer