Cul-de-sac gets coated in snow and plowed out during Ontario snowstorm.
Cul-de-sac gets coated in snow and plowed out during Ontario snowstorm.
Canada's health officials spoke about the recent change in guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) on the time between two COVID-19 vaccine doses, and how that may contribute to vaccine hesitancy in Canada.
LIVERPOOL, England — Liverpool’s woeful home form is developing into a full-blown crisis after Chelsea’s 1-0 victory on Thursday inflicted a fifth straight league loss at Anfield on the Premier League champions — the worst run in the club’s 128-year history. With Liverpool's title defence already over, this was billed as a battle for a Champions League place and Mason Mount’s 42nd-minute goal lifted Chelsea back into the top four. Chelsea’s previous win at Anfield, in 2014, effectively ended the title hopes of Brendan Rodgers’ side. This one was a blow to Liverpool’s chances of a top-four finish under Jurgen Klopp. Klopp’s side is four points adrift of Chelsea and with Everton and West Ham also ahead. Liverpool has now gone more than 10 hours without a goal from open play at Anfield. The hosts failed to register an effort on target until the 85th minute and Georginio Wijnaldum’s weak header was never going to beat Edouard Mendy. They have taken one point from the last 21 on offer at home since Christmas and scored just two goals, one of which was a penalty. None of Liverpool's established front three — Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane or Roberto Firmino — impressed but the sight of Salah, the Premier League’s leading scorer, being substituted just past the hour mark was baffling. The Egypt international certainly thought so as he sat shaking his head, having been replaced by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Chelsea, by contrast, looked full of threat with Timo Werner — a player Liverpool was interested in but decided it could not afford last summer — a constant problem. Despite one goal in his previous 17 league outings, he caused problems with his movement, drifting out to the left then popping into the middle to give Fabinho a real headache on his return to the side. The Brazil midfielder, replacing Nat Phillips after he became the latest centre back to pick up an injury, was partnering Ozan Kabak in Liverpool’s 15th different central-defensive starting partnership in 27 league matches. Faced with a statistic like that, it is perhaps understandable why there was a lack of cohesion at the back and Werner should really have profited. He fired one early shot over and then failed to lift his effort over Alisson Becker, back in goal after the death of his father in Brazil last week. Even when Werner did beat Alisson, VAR ruled the Germany international’s arm had been offside 20 yards earlier in the build-up. Liverpool’s one chance fell to Mane but Salah’s first-time ball over the top got caught under his feet and Mane missed his shot with only Mendy to beat. Chelsea was still controlling the game and caught Liverpool on the counterattack when N’Golo Kante quickly sent a loose ball out to the left wing, from where Mount cut inside to beat Alisson having been given far too much time to pick his spot. All five of Mount’s league goals have come away from home. Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel spent the first five minutes of the second half screaming at his players to press harder and play higher up the pitch but Liverpool’s players were equally vocal when Firmino’s cross hit the raised arm of Kante from close range. No penalty was awarded. Andy Robertson cleared off the line from Hakim Ziyech after Alisson parried Ben Chilwell’s shot as Chelsea continued to look more dangerous. Klopp’s attempt to change the direction of the game saw him send on Diogo Jota for his first appearance in three months, along with Oxlade-Chamberlain. Jota’s first touch was a half-chance from a deep cross but he was not sharp enough to take it. Werner, meanwhile, was doing everything but score as Alisson’s leg saved another shot as he bore down on goal. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
The United Conservative Party (UCP) government released their provincial budget on February 25th, and it’s looking different than what was projected this time last year. COVID-19 created the largest economic downturn since the Great Depression, and it seems that temporarily increased funding to municipalities could be part of a provincial strategy to reinvigorate the market in 2021. The province’s budget looks like it will effectively lean on municipalities to create jobs now, and yet significantly decrease funding to local governments over the following years. Most municipalities function with a combination of funding from property tax, applicable federal and provincial grants, and levies when necessary. One grant that municipalities have been relying on since 2007 is called the Municipal Sustainability Initiativeli (MSI), which is received from the province to help support local infrastructure funding. This includes both capital funding, which goes towards the actual building of projects, and operational funds, which support day-to-day functions. Each year, with the announcement of the provincial budget, municipalities across Alberta find out just how much they are allotted in MSI funding for the year, and what is projected for future years. A community does not have to use all of their funds that year, but the amount is set aside for them to apply for as projects come up, and they can earmark funding for future projects or projects on the go. In 2019 it was announced that the MSI would be phased out and replaced by the Local Government Fiscal Framework Act (LGGF) in the 2021 budget. According to the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA), “municipalities are seeking long-term stable and predictable funding” which they hoped would be delivered by the LGFF. Some municipalities were disappointed to see the MSI extended and the LGFF decisions put off until the 2024-25 budget. According to AUMA’s preliminary findings regarding the budget, “While MSI will increase by $233 million this year, declines in the next two years mean that municipalities will lose out on approximately $414 million in funding over the next three years.” In a recent news conference, NDP Municipal Affairs critic Joe Ceci warned that last Thursday’s budget would mean “less money, less stability, less predictable long-term funding by this UCP government.” He shared “the front-loading of the MSI is certainly something to help municipalities with jobs in their communities, but it won’t provide them the predictable money over the long term”. It is likely that communities will have to cut services or raise taxes to address the reduction. The province has found other ways to support local government during these difficult times, including a recovery plan of $500 million in municipal stimulus funding, and maintaining a freeze on the education property tax. Education property tax is a provincial tax that municipal governments are mandated to collect on behalf of the provincial government, which had been expected to increase this year. The town of Cardston, along with every other municipality, is now tasked with creating their budget and five year capital plan based on the funding numbers coming down from the province. It will be interesting to see if communities attempt to spread the funding over the next few years, or if 2021 will see municipal budgets stimulating the economy through large capital projects like the proposed recreation facility. Elizabeth Thompson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temple City Star
Current promotional program fees for Hinton’s pool at the recreation centre have been reduced by 50 per cent until at least April 6, 2021. On April 6, Council will review the fees and make adjustments as they see fit. The recent increase in fees made it difficult for some families to afford using the facility, stated council during the regular council meeting on March 2. The fees were implemented by administration to make up for lost revenue due to COVID-19 restrictions only allowing one household to use the pool area at a time. “A full facility rental rate is very cost prohibitive. The daily rates are established on more than one to three occupants in the pool or other recreation facility at a time. It’s not enough to offset the cost of operating,” said CAO Emily Olsen. Administration created the promotional program to allow at least some costs to be recouped through an additional fee. Daily rates stay the same but the program offsets the costs of lifeguards on duty, administrative staff, and minimizes the losses seen with the daily rate, Olsen explained. “It was a creative response or solution to allow opening under the restrictions as best as we can to promote health and wellness in the community and allow for families and individuals to utilize the facility,” said Olsen. Reservation fees for 30 minute increments were $10 for pass holders and $20 for non pass holders. This will now be half the price. Currently, there are half hour or one hour time slots available at the pool from 10:30 am to 3:30 pm and 6:30pm to 7:30pm. To abide by provincial COVID-19 restrictions, these reservations allow one individual or one household access to the entire main pool and steam room for fitness purposes. “I appreciate the work that administration has put into opening the facility and trying to come up with an operating plan and pricing that keeps it within the 2021 budget, but we also have some unallocated MOST funds that I feel might be able to offset these additional costs,” said Coun. Tyler Waugh. Council made a direction to recoup lost revenue from the Municipal Operating Support Transfer (MOST) Program. The Town of Hinton, along with many other municipalities, received funding through MOST from the provincial government to help offset the COVID-19 related losses for 2020. A portion of the MOST funds was put into a reserve and council is set to make a decision on how to use these funds in April. Not all councilors were immediately on board with spending MOST dollars on subsidizing the pool rates as there are several other initiatives that require support from the funds. “I certainly struggle with limiting the types of people that have access to a public facility, especially one that encourages better physical and mental health. That said, I’d rather be open than closed, I like that we’re going to have an opportunity to get some data on usage and potentially more creative solutions down the road as restrictions continue to change,” said Coun. Dewly Nelson. He suggested looking at the data to discount certain time blocks at the pool that see less usage. Mayor Marcel Michaels stated that many families were priced out of using the facility, and that making a decision on lowering the rates was pressing. By lowering the rate, the pool may also see better usage, he added. Without a report or knowing the financial repercussions of lowering the rates Coun. Trevor Haas and Coun. Albert Ostashek felt it was difficult to slash the rates in half at this meeting. Olsen noted that while it will have a financial impact, it’s unclear what that impact will be. “We’re looking for a price point that can hit the economic reality of the citizens in our community and I think that’s what we’re struggling to find,” said Coun. Ryan Maguhn. High rates won’t generate any usage and revenue in the facility, Maguhn added. Olsen added that Step three of Alberta’s plan to lift restrictions is also set for three weeks from now, which may change restrictions for the pool. Laura Howarth, Hinton director of community service noted that the Town offers support for families that need support. “We work with FCSS or people contact us directly. Please encourage families that you are aware of that really want to come to the rec centre but it’s not affordable, and any other time it’s not affordable either, we definitely have the opportunity and are willing and supportive of those families,” Howarth said. To reserve a spot at the pool, register online at hinton.ca/rec or contact Customer Service at 780-865-4412. Reservations have to be made one day prior to the time slot. Masha Scheele, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hinton Voice
One of Canada's top public health officials sought to reassure Canadians today that a recommendation from a federal vaccine advisory committee to stretch out the time between COVID-19 vaccine doses is a sound one. Yesterday, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommended that the maximum interval between the first and second doses of all three COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada should increase to four months due to limited supplies. Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo said the advice is based on real-world data that shows doing so would lead to more people being protected from COVID-19 in a shorter time period. "This recommendation is based on clinical trial reports and emerging real-world evidence from around the world. Data shows that several weeks after being administered, first doses of vaccines provide highly effective protection against symptomatic disease, hospitalization and death," Njoo told a technical briefing today. Confusion over conflicting advice Njoo's comments appeared to be addressing the confusion created by the fact that NACI's recommendation conflicts with those issued by Health Canada when it granted regulatory approvals for the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines. Regulatory documents provided by Health Canada upon approval of each vaccine state that the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech should be taken three weeks after the first, the second Moderna shot should come four weeks after the first, and the second AstraZeneca dose should be delivered between four and 12 weeks after the first. All of those recommendations are in line with the product monograph provided by the manufacturers. Adding to the confusion, NACI recommended on Monday against giving the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine to people 65 and older, although Health Canada has authorized it for use in adults of all ages. But Njoo said the discrepancies can be explained by the fact that Health Canada is a regulator and NACI is an advisory body made up of medical experts. "You have likely noticed that NACI's recommendations are sometimes different, possibly broader or narrower than the conditions of vaccine use that Health Canada has authorized. As the regulator, Health Canada authorizes each vaccine for use in Canada according to factors based on clinical trial evidence, whereas NACI bases its guidance on the available and evolving evidence in a real-world context, including the availability of other vaccines," Njoo said. "What we expect is that NACI recommendations will complement — not mirror — those of Health Canada." WATCH: Njoo comments on NACI recommendation to delay second COVID-19 vaccine doses The issue burst into the open on Monday when B.C.'s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that the province would be extending the interval between doses of the Moderna, Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines to 16 weeks. Some medical experts questioned that decision. Canada's chief science adviser, Mona Nemer, said doing so without proper clinical trials amounts to a "population level experiment." Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the U.S., told the Washington Post that the science doesn't support delaying a second dose for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. He said there isn't enough evidence to determine how much protection is provided by one dose of those vaccines, and how long it lasts. Despite those warnings, several provinces followed Henry's lead and even more have indicated they intend to stretch the dosage interval. While it appeared to some at the time that Henry was moving faster than the science, Njoo said that NACI's experts briefed provincial medical officers of health over the weekend on the results of their analysis before releasing their recommendations publicly. NACI concluded that stretching the dosing interval to four months would allow up to 80 per cent of Canadians over the age of 16 to receive a single dose of COVID-19 vaccine by the end of June, without compromising vaccine effectiveness. "While studies have not yet collected four months of data on vaccine effectiveness after the first dose, the first two months of real world effectiveness are showing sustained high levels of protection," NACI said. As for the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, Njoo said it is safe and that evidence shows it provides protection against very serious disease and death in people of all ages. He said Health Canada has a rigorous scientific review process and only approves vaccines that meet high standards for safety, efficacy and quality. Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada's chief medical adviser, said expert advice will continue to change as more data becomes available from ongoing mass vaccination campaigns, and she urged provinces and territories to consider recommendations and evidence from both bodies when making decisions about their vaccine strategies. "The messaging would be simpler if we had one set of data and we had one message and it never changed, but that's not what science does," said Sharma. Decision on Johnson and Johnson imminent At today's briefing, health officials also indicated that a regulatory decision on whether to approve Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine is expected soon. "The review of the Johnson & Johnson submission is going very well, it's progressing, and we're expecting to have that completed and a decision in the next few days. I would say in the next seven days or so," said Sharma. The company has said its vaccine is 66 per cent effective at preventing moderate to severe illness in a global clinical trial, and much more effective — 85 per cent — against the most serious symptoms. Canada has agreed to purchase up to 38 million doses if it is approved. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved it for use in that country last Saturday. The approval of a fourth vaccine would give a significant boost to Canada's vaccine rollout. Johnson and Johnson's vaccine is widely seen as one of the easiest to administer because it requires only one dose and can be stored for long periods of time at regular refrigerator temperatures. Njoo said additional vaccines, coupled with the NACI recommendation on dosage intervals, could allow Canada to meet the goal of inoculating all adults who want a vaccine "several weeks" before the current target date of the end of September. Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander leading Canada's COVID-19 vaccine logistics, said that while more vaccines would be good news, the current target remains the end of September.
FREDERICTON — Health officials in New Brunswick are reporting five new cases of COVID-19 today. Three of the cases are in the Edmundston region, while the Moncton and Miramichi regions each have one new case. There are now 36 active cases in the province and three patients are hospitalized, including two in intensive care. A recently reported presumptive case of a variant in the Miramichi region has been confirmed by Winnipeg’s National Microbiology Laboratory to be the B.1.1.7 variant that originated in the United Kingdom. Mass testing clinics have been set up in the Miramichi area to determine if there has been any further spread of the virus. Since the onset of the pandemic, there have been 1,443 confirmed cases in New Brunswick and 28 COVID-19-related deaths, This report by The Canadian Press was first published Mar. 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
L’appui de Développement économique pour les régions du Québec (DEC) permettra aux entreprises Annexair et Les Biotechnologies Ulysse de développer des projets en technologies propres, contribuant ainsi à la création de 24 emplois. L’annonce a été faite par le ministre de l’Innovation, des Sciences et de l’Industrie, François-Philippe Champagne, au nom de Mélanie Joly, ministre du Développement économique et des Langues officielles, responsable de DEC. « Il est primordial d’encourager les entreprises de chez nous à développer des procédés et des produits plus environnementaux, tout en améliorant leurs avantages concurrentiels et leurs perspectives d’avenir », a-t-il souligné. La contribution remboursable de 2 M$ destinée à Annexair lui permettra de « réduire l’empreinte carbone de sa nouvelle usine intelligente et de compléter son parc manufacturier d’inspiration allemande en acquérant des équipements numériques » selon un communiqué. Il s’agit par exemple d’un lamineur, des unités de manutention autonomes, des stations de montage et des logiciels de gestion de la production qui pourront améliorer la productivité de l’entreprise de Drummondville en suscitant la création d’une vingtaine de postes hautement spécialisés. Les Biotechnologies Ulysse n’en créeront que 4 avec l’aide de 224 000 $ selon la même source. Le coup de pouce devrait permettre à l’entreprise de Trois Rivières d’acquérir et d’installer des équipements de production numérique pour augmenter sa capacité de production dans de nouveaux locaux. « En misant sur un virage vert, on va pouvoir créer de bons emplois dans des secteurs d’avenir payants, en plus de lutter contre les changements climatiques. On ne laissera pas tomber les familles d’ici », a promis le lieutenant du Québec et leader du gouvernement à la Chambre des communes. Le secteur des technologies propres représente 3,2 % du PIB du Canada où on compte 317 000 emplois. Plus de 850 entreprises de technologies propres contribuent à hisser le drapeau canadien en tête parmi les pays du G20 sur l’indice mondial de l’innovation dans les technologies propres et au quatrième rang mondial. DEC a investi 42 M$ dans 161 projets visant l’utilisation de technologies moins énergivores et la réduction de l’empreinte environnementale des entreprises, dépassant ainsi la cible de 25 millions qu’il s’était fixée pour les technologies propres pour l’année 2019-2020. Godlove Kamwa, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Canada Français
RALEIGH, N.C. — A Trump may be on the ballot next year — but not Donald Trump. The former president's daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, is eyeing the North Carolina Senate seat being vacated by Republican Richard Burr. While many in the state are skeptical she will move forward, an entrance into the race would set up a crucial test of whether Donald Trump's popularity among Republicans, which remains massive more than a month after leaving office, can translate to others. The answer to that question has implications that extend far beyond Lara Trump's political future. If Donald Trump can prove that he can help other Republicans win office, his self-appointed status as leader of the party would be validated. Losses, however, would remind Republicans of his vulnerabilities. For now, Republicans say the only thing that is certain is that Lara Trump would easily dispatch rivals in a GOP primary. “If Lara were to get in the race, I think she would command widespread and immediate attention across the state,” said Michael Whatley, chairman of the North Carolina GOP, who has said his goal going forward is “making sure that we keep all of the Trump voters that came in during the last election and convert them into reliable Republican voters.” Donald Trump fancies himself as a kingmaker in GOP politics, but his record is mixed. Under his leadership, Republicans lost control of the House in 2018. When he was on the ballot again last year, Republicans mounted a strong performance in congressional races, coming much closer than expected to retaking the House. But the GOP lost two Georgia Senate seats — and the majority — in January despite a last minute campaign push from Trump. The 38-year-old Lara Trump is married to the former president's son, Eric. A former television producer, she has never held public office and declined to comment for this story. While many in North Carolina privately doubt Lara Trump will ultimately seek the Senate seat, she's being encouraged by South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Trump ally who has warned the party against abandoning the former president. She is still considering a run for the Senate seat, according to two people who have spoken with her recently and requested anonymity to discuss private conversations. While she would need to move her young family to the state, the Wilmington, North Carolina native, is deeply familiar with the state and its voters after campaigning there extensively in 2016 and 2020, according to one of the people. She was a key surrogate for her father-in-law and named her second child Carolina. She also likes the idea of being the next Trump to run for something, even as a test to her father-in-law mounting a comeback in 2024, the other said. The former president's daughter, Ivanka, recently said she wouldn't challenge Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio and his son, Donald Trump, Jr., is believed to be uninterested in seeking office himself. For Trump loyalists, there would be a certain satisfaction in a family member succeeding Burr, who was one of just seven Senate Republicans who voted to convict the former president in an impeachment trial for inciting the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. “Stay tuned,” she said last week in an interview on Fox News Channel, adding that she was keeping the option “open.” If she opted for a run, Lara Trump would have to contend with a rapidly changing state. While Donald Trump defeated Joe Biden in North Carolina last year, his margin — 1.3 percentage points — shrank in half from 2016. That's driven by a politically active Black population and an influx of voters into areas like Charlotte and the Raleigh suburbs. Earning their votes will be crucial given doubts that anyone besides the former president will be able to turn out the waves of largely rural, new voters Trump attracted both in 2016 and 2020. “Without Trump on the ballot, Republicans have a turnout issue they have to address. However, without Trump on the ballot, Democrats have a turnout issue they have to address,” said Paul Shumaker, a longtime Republican consultant in the state, referring to the energy Trump inspired on the left. So far, the Senate race has just one declared GOP candidate: Mark Walker, a former congressman and pastor. He represents the bind Republicans in North Carolina find themselves in. In an interview, Walker was eager to note he met with Trump “many times” in the Oval Office and recounted how the former president encouraged him to run in 2019 when he was mulling a campaign for Sen. Thom Tillis’s seat. He insisted Donald Trump remains a powerful force in politics. “I don’t think that’s any question at this point, if you pay attention to the political lens, that the Republican political party goes through Donald Trump in terms of his influence on the party as whole,” Walker said. Still, Walker noted the need for Republicans to attract a broader swath of voters beyond Trump's core base. “We want President Trump’s support. We want Mitch McConnell’s support. We want Democrats to support us because we have a message that resonates,” he said. “I truly believe that there’s a space to be able to do both, to be that conservative champion but also be that bridge-builder.” Walker’s team tried to secure a meeting with Trump at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, over the weekend while Walker was visiting the state for the Conservative Political Action Conference, where both men spoke. But the two men didn't connect. Trump’s team has been “tapping the brakes a little bit” on rolling out endorsements as they work to develop a framework for choosing candidates, a spokesman said. ___ Colvin reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Jonathan Lemire contributed to this report from New York. Jill Colvin And Bryan Anderson, The Associated Press
Town of Cardston Council is currently drafting a tax-exemption bylaw to “encourage redevelopment and new development of non-residential properties within the Town” (Draft Bylaw 1695). Chief Administrative Officer Jeff Shaw sheds light on Cardston’s decision in a recent interview with The Temple City Star. “Prior to 2019 the legislation was written to only allow deferral or cancelation of taxes,” he states “and only if it was equitable”. On release of Bill 7 in 2019, Kaycee Madu, who was the Minister of Municipal Affairs, stated that the new bill would “allow municipalities… to offer a wide range of property tax incentives for non-residential properties for the purposes of attracting and retaining economic development.” Shaw says that at first, there was a general feeling around the council table to be cautious and observe how the bill would be applied across the province, rather than being the first community to dive in. Lucky for them, other municipalities in the province were willing to go first, and Cardston has been able to model their draft bylaw after the Town of Edson’s. Other tax incentive bylaws initiated by municipalities in the region last year include Cardston County and the Town of Fort Macleod. Though each of the bylaws were created for a similar purpose, they look different in both the requirements of the applicants and the incentive offered by the municipality. Cardston’s draft bylaw requires that a business’s investment (addition, expansion or renovation) increase the property value by at least 25%. This differs from Fort Macleod’s bylaw which requires a minimum $50, 000 investment into the property, and also from Cardston County’s bylaw which uses a variable incentive that decreases the taxation percentage as the investment by the business into the property increases. Cardston’s draft also reflects Edson’s choice to not require an application fee, which differs from Cardston County which requires a $500 fee, and Fort Macleod which requires a $100 fee. The incentive offered by each municipality is unique. Cardston’s draft bylaw offers a reduction of taxes over the first five years. This starts with a 100% reduction in taxes for the first year, which declines by 20% with each consecutive year. Edson’s bylaw reduces taxes by 100% for the first two years, and decreases the reduction by 25% each year for three more years. Fort Macleod’s bylaw offers a 100% reduction for the first year, with the reduction decreasing by 25% for the following two years. Cardston County, however, offer the same incentive each year for four years based on the investment Any bylaw draft presented to council requires three readings before coming into effect. This means the council looks at the draft, makes any amendments they see fit, and votes with a majority in favour of the bylaw a total of three times. The first reading of the Non-residential Property Tax Incentive Bylaw in Cardston was moved by Councillor Bengry on November 10th, and passed unanimously. During this meeting council asked administration to get feedback on the draft bylaw from both the Economic Development committee and the Chamber of Commerce. The second reading was moved by Councillor Selk on February 23rd and, again, was passed unanimously. Conversation at the more recent meeting involved recommendations that had been received in discussions with a legal representative. Questions the council is still considering before passing the bylaw include whether or not the tax reduction would begin upon approval of the application, on commencement of construction, or completion of construction. Most other municipalities seem to be requiring that improvements be completed before the tax exemption begins, whereas Cardston’s lawyer advised that a business may be more motivated to initiate development if the tax exemption comes into effect when the application is approved. Shaw says that the town hopes this tax reprise will allow business owners doing new builds “to be able to focus on the financing of a new space… during those initial construction years. Also, existing businesses will be enabled to “turn over low assessment properties sitting idle into newer more modern structures, and allow them to get cash flowing before they have to face the full tax burden”. Pandemic timing could be ideal for this bylaw introduction as many businesses are focusing on renovations while their doors have to remain closed anyways. If businesses start construction now, they will have tax relief over the next five years as the economy starts to boom again and the vaccine allows for more community interaction and local spending. Council will likely debate further on the draft later in March and the bylaw could be in effect by April. So, if your business could use a facelift this spring, keep an eye out for the opportunity to get a break from your taxes and focus on the bricks and mortar. Elizabeth Thompson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temple City Star
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting five new COVID-19 cases today, four of which are in the eastern health region that includes St. John's. Health officials say the four cases in the eastern region involve people between the ages of 40 and 69; three involve close contacts of prior cases while the fourth is related to domestic travel. Officials say the fifth case is located in the western health region, involves a person between the ages of 20 and 39 and is related to international travel. Eight people are in hospital with the disease, including two in intensive care. Officials say they are still investigating the source of an infection involving a health-care worker at a hospital in the rural town of St. Anthony, located on the Northern Peninsula. Newfoundland and Labrador has 121 active reported COVID-19 infections. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
LONDON — Banksy appears to have thrown his support behind a campaign to turn a former prison in the English town of Reading into an arts venue, a town spokesman said on Thursday, after the street artist confirmed that artwork that appeared on a red brick wall of the prison was of his making. The elusive artist confirmed the picture was his when he posted a video of him creating it on his Instagram account. The monochrome picture shows a man escaping using a rope made of paper from a typewriter. It appeared Monday outside Reading Prison, famous as the location where writer Oscar Wilde served two years for “gross indecency” in the 1890s. The prison closed in 2013, and campaigners want it turned into an arts venue. Britain’s Ministry of Justice, which owns the building, is due to decide mid-March on its future. In his Instagram video, Banksy is shown stealthily stenciling and spraying paint to create the artwork, titled “Create Escape.” The footage is juxtaposed with an episode of a traditional art instruction video called “The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross.” The campaign to turn the former prison into an arts venue has won the backing of actors including Judi Dench, Stephen Fry and Kenneth Branagh. A spokesman for Reading Borough Council said it was “thrilled that Banksy appears to have thrown his support behind the council’s desire to transform the vacant Reading Gaol into a beacon of arts, heritage and culture with this piece of artwork he has aptly called ‘Create Escape’.” “The Council is pushing the Ministry of Justice, who own the site, to make suitable arrangements to protect the image,” the authority said. The Associated Press
BRISTOL, Conn. — Former Italy and Juventus star Alessandro Del Piero is joining ESPN as a soccer analyst. The 46-year-old Del Piero, who retired after the 2014 season, will debut on ESPNFC this Saturday during postgame coverage of the Serie A match between Juventus and Lazio. Del Piero scored 27 goals in 91 appearances from 1995-2008, helping Italy in the 2006 World Cup title. He played for Padova (1991-93), Juventus (1993-12), Sydney (2012-14) and Delhi Dynamos (2014). He becomes part an ESPN soccer analyst group that includes Jürgen Klinsmann, Frank Lebeouf, Kasey Keller and Taylor Twellman. Del Piero also will continue as an analyst with with Sky Sports Italia. ____ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
Le professeur Thierry Karsenti, titulaire de la Chaire de recherche du Canada sur les technologies de l'information et de la communication en éducation, a été arrêté et devra faire face à des accusations de contacts sexuels sur une victime âgée de moins de 16 ans. D’après les informations obtenues auprès du Service de police de l’agglomération de Longueuil (SPAL), Thierry Karsenti, 52 ans, résidant de Brossard, a été arrêté le 23 février dernier. Un mandat d’arrêt visé avait été lancé contre lui. M. Karsenti a été libéré sous conditions en attendant sa comparution. Il lui est notamment interdit de communiquer avec la victime ou sa famille ou de se présenter à sa résidence. Il doit également informer les autorités de tout changement d'adresse. Sa comparution est prévue vendredi au palais de justice de Longueuil. Dans un message publié mercredi sur son fil Twitter, le SPAL demande l’aide de la population, car on soupçonne que le prévenu aurait pu faire d’autres victimes. «On demande aux gens qui auraient pu être victimes de Thierry Karsenti, 52 ans, résidant de Brossard, de nous appeler. Sinon, on invite aussi les gens à nous fournir des informations, s’ils en ont», a indiqué la porte-parole du SPAL Mélanie Mercille. La victime aurait porté plainte en octobre 2019. Les circonstances entourant les gestes reprochés n’auraient aucun lien avec les activités professionnelles du prévenu. Cependant, l’Université de Montréal a «suspendu pour une période indéterminée» le professeur de sa faculté d’éducation. L’université aurait appris l’arrestation de M. Karsenti, mercredi, au moment de la sortie publique du SPAL. Toute personne ayant des informations à transmettre aux enquêteurs concernant cette affaire peut communiquer avec le 911 ou le 450-463-7211. Ugo Giguère, Initiative de journalisme local, La Presse Canadienne
A nearly $4 million investment into Newmarket-Aurora will help victims of human trafficking access the services and supports they need to recover. On Friday, Jill Dunlop, Ontario’s Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues, announced an infusion of $3.8 million over the next five years to two Newmarket-based organizations: BridgeNorth and Cedar Centre. Their community-based programs will help the organizations create two new programs “to provide more young victims and survivors of human trafficking in York Region with access to the supports they need.” “These new programs will help more people who have experienced sexual exploitation heal and rebuild their lives,” said Minister Dunlop in a statement following the virtual announcement. “Victims and survivors of human trafficking need specialized, trauma-informed supports to help them recover. Providing more dedicated services for children and youth will help address critical needs in this Region.” With their share of the pot, BridgeNorth will provide a survivor-led peer mentoring and day program for children and youth, providing supports from early intervention through to stabilization, transition and reintegration. Cedar Centre will provide trauma-specific, rapid-response therapy to help children and youth who have experienced sexual exploitation. “Our government has made it a priority to end human trafficking and protect our most vulnerable from this terrible crime,” said Newmarket-Aurora MPP Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier of Ontario and Minister of Health. “We are proud that this investment will create new critical programs in Newmarket to provide victims and survivors of human trafficking with the help they deserve and support their recovery.” Last week’s announcement is part of Ontario’s $46 million investment to increase supports, with a special emphasis on survivor-led programming. “Voices of survivors and those with lived experiences are being heard,” says Cassandra Diamond, Survivor and Founder of BridgeNorth. “For years, we have been asking to have peer-led services, and today, because of our government’s strong and wise leadership, it is a reality.” Added Alison Peck, Executive Director of Cedar Centre: “We are very excited by this opportunity and humbled by the trust in us to work in partnership with the government to provide this critically-needed service for children and youth who are at risk of, or have experienced human trafficking in York Region.” More than 70 per cent of known human trafficking victims identified by police Ontario-wide are under the age of 25 and 28 per cent are under the age of 18, according to the Ministry. Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
NASA's Perseverance Mars rover has continued to send stunning images of the red planet back to Earth. In this moment, an incredible shot of the Sun from the Martian surface was captured. Credit to "NASA/JPL-Caltech".
Some universities in Ontario have started planning for a return to in-person learning this fall as COVID-19 vaccinations ramp up. The pandemic forced schools to quickly move classes online last year but several said ongoing immunizations have sparked hope that a return to physical classrooms in September will be possible. In London, Ont., Western University said it expects to return to face-to-face instruction and resume on-campus activities when the fall semester begins. "As vaccines become more readily available over the spring and summer and as the Western community continues to remain vigilant both on and off campus, we're increasingly confident of these plans," university president Alan Shepard said in a statement. Shephard noted that the university has seen the benefits of remote work and online instruction over the past year. "As we plan for the fall, we’ll be looking at ways to incorporate the best of what we’ve learned into the curriculum and into our work where it makes the most sense," he said, adding that the university would be working with the local public health unit as it makes its fall plans. Western has had several COVID-19 outbreaks at its campus residences, with the most recent one declared on Tuesday after seven cases at its Essex Hall residence were confirmed. In Kingston, Ont., Queen's University also plans to resume some on-campus learning in the fall. "As part of the hope to be back to some degree of normalcy by fall, the university is planning that many small classes, labs, and tutorials will be offered in-person, with appropriate safety protocols in place," it said in a statement. The university said it expects most large classes will still be delivered remotely if COVID-19 restrictions remain in place throughout the fall, but it was hopeful that the winter term would bring more in-person learning. "Depending on the vaccine distribution timeline, government regulations, and public health guidance, Queen’s is cautiously optimistic that on-campus activities will return to normal in the winter term," it said. The University of Toronto said it would follow public health guidelines in Toronto and Mississauga, Ont., where its campuses are located. It was optimistic, however, that an increase in vaccinations and falling case counts would allow for more in-person activities to resume in the fall. "Last year taught us a lot about the importance of planning and preparedness, and the need to be flexible in unpredictable circumstances," the university said. Ryerson University in downtown Toronto said it had not yet made a decision for fall learning, noting that it was planning for a number of scenarios. "We will not ask anyone to come to campus until our government and public health agencies have told us that it's safe to open and that the safety and well-being of our community can be assured," said spokeswoman Lindsey Craig. Both Toronto and Peel Region, where Mississauga is located, are currently under a stay-at-home order and have been the top COVID-19 hot spots in Ontario throughout the pandemic. As universities make their plans, at least one student said the thought of in-person learning in the fall was somewhat stressful. Kacey Niu, a first-year Western student, said she has been living in Toronto with family while learning online. "My dad actually doesn't want me to sign a lease (to live in London) until July or August because he still doesn't think they could make it happen," the 18-year-old said. "He’s definitely worried about students not being careful." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Denise Paglinawan, The Canadian Press
NEW YORK — With dark clouds looming behind him, controversial music producer and hitmaker Dr. Luke rose to the top of the Billboard charts last year with Doja Cat’s ubiquitous funk-pop jam “Say So,” along with Saweetie's anthemic bop “Tap In” and Juice WRLD's Top 5 pop smash “Wishing Well." It marked a creative resurgence for the pop prince, who remains embroiled in a lawsuit with Kesha. His chart domination was followed by his first Grammy nomination in seven years — cementing his comeback. That has the music world is split — some believe the art and the person should be separated, while others have blasted the Recording Academy for rewarding the hitmaker with a nomination for one of its top prizes. But not all of the academy members may have been aware they were voting for Dr. Luke when they completed their ballots this year. That's because he used a moniker — Tyson Trax — for Doja Cat's “Say So,” which he produced and co-wrote. The hit tune is competing for record of the year, where Dr. Luke is in contention as the song’s producer. “It’s difficult to say whether or not Grammy voters are aware that ‘Tyson Trax’ is used as a pseudonym,” Harvey Mason Jr., the academy’s interim president and CEO, said in a statement to The Associated Press. “While it’s true that the ‘Tyson Trax’ producer credit would be visible on the ballot entry, I would imagine that a lot of voters were making their selection with Doja Cat in mind, thinking primarily about the artistic merits of her performance.” Doja Cat, who released her debut EP on Dr. Luke's Kemosabe label in 2014 before Kesha's lawsuit, is also nominated for best new artist and best pop solo performance at the March 14 Grammys. Dr. Luke produced multiple songs on her sophomore album “Hot Pink.” Those include the double-platinum success “Juicy” and the Gucci Mane-assisted hit “Like That,” which reached No. 3 on the R&B charts last year. For those songs, he's credited as Tyson Trax. “I didn’t know that Tyson Trax was Dr. Luke. I could have looked it up, but I didn’t, and I didn’t care. It’s a name and I’m voting on the artistic merit of the record, so it didn’t matter,” said Susan Rogers, a professor at Berklee College of Music and Prince’s former staff engineer who is a Grammy voter. “Your judgment should be based upon who did the best, most creative, most artistic work during the year; what work is going to advance the state of the industry. That’s the only thing that we’re voting on," she said. “Anytime we bring anything else into that mix — how we feel about someone personally, whether we like them or dislike them, know them or don’t know them — we’re being unfair to all the others.” Dr. Luke, 47, has also used the Tyson Trax pseudonym for his contribution to Toronto rapper-singer Benny Mayne’s “Hokey Pokey.” He’s been referred to as MADE IN CHINA for his work with pop singer Kim Petras. His producer credit on Lil Wayne's “Shimmy” from his 2020 album “Funeral”? Loctor Duke. Evan Minsker, news editor for the music publication Pitchfork, admitted that some of his colleagues didn’t recognize Dr. Luke was Tyson Trax: “It’s their job to be plugged in (and) they didn’t know Dr. Luke was Tyson Trax.” “I think there probably are a lot of cases of (Dr. Luke) sneaking under the radar, people not connecting what his other pseudonyms are with who he is,” Minsker said. “Regardless of who he is and what his various names are, clearly there is some kind of proven result in what Dr. Luke and Doja Cat did together,” he continued. “I think while maybe some people didn’t know, I wouldn’t be surprised if some people did and just don’t really have a hard time falling asleep at night after putting his name through.” Dr. Luke was last in Grammy contention in 2014 when he competed for non-classical producer and record of the year for his work on Katy Perry’s “Roar.” He emerged as the protege of pop music maestro Max Martin, who produced 23 No. 1 hits throughout his career, working with everyone from pop idols such as Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears and N’Sync to contemporary stars like Adele, Taylor Swift and The Weeknd. Together, Martin and Dr. Luke crafted hits for Kelly Clarkson, Katy Perry, Pink and Kesha, who he signed in 2005. Eventually Dr. Luke stepped into the forefront, helming successes for Miley Cyrus, Pitbull, Nicki Minaj and Flo Rida, logging 17 No. 1 hits. Dr. Luke has gotten a taste of his former life on top of the charts, with every major label — including Sony Music, Warner Music Group and Universal Music Group — launching a hit with him last year. In addition to his work with Doja Cat, Juice WRLD, Saweetie and Lil Wayne, he also produced “Blind” for rapper DaBaby and co-wrote “Broken Glass” for hit DJ-producer Kygo. This year he produced another hit for Saweetie with “Best Friend," which is currently No. 10 on the rap charts. “I think (the Grammys) set themselves up a little bit to fail because instead of having this big celebratory moment, there were a lot of questions all of a sudden. ‘How come you got Dr. Luke in (one of) the big four (categories)?' That’s pretty surprising,” Pitchfork’s Minsker said. “I can see why this is the moment for (‘Say So’) and I also was surprised to see that it would be nominated in such a way that (Dr. Luke) would get an award at this stage in his life.” Kesha, 34, has accused Dr. Luke of sexual assault during their yearslong partnership, allegations he vigorously denies. The court case continues, despite a New York judge dismissing Kesha’s sexual abuse-related claims in 2016 on procedural grounds; no ruling was made on whether the allegations were true. Kesha lost another round when a judge said she made a defamatory statement about Dr. Luke in a 2016 text message telling Lady Gaga the producer had also raped Perry. Kesha’s lawyers are appealing the ruling, which didn’t resolve other aspects of his defamation and breach-of-contract suit, including the crucial question of whether Kesha’s rape allegation is true. The judge said that’s for a jury to decide at trial. Fiona Apple, who is nominated for three Grammys, slammed the academy for Dr. Luke’s inclusion this year. She questioned the organization because three years ago, they invited Kesha to perform “Praying” — the deeply emotional and touching piano tune arguably about her experience with Dr. Luke — at the show. Kesha was joined onstage by Cyndi Lauper, Andra Day, Bebe Rexha, Camila Cabello, Julia Michaels and the Resistance Revival Chorus for the widely praised performance. The song appeared on the album “Rainbow,” which was released on Dr. Luke's label but was the first time she created music commercially without him. The music even earned Kesha her first pair of Grammy nominations. Berklee’s Rogers explained that “as a member of the female sex ... we have to be sensitive and tolerant of women who make accusations of sexual impropriety or coercion or any number of things that they might be victim of. We have to listen to them. We have to be credulous. We have to believe them. “We also have to recognize it’s a two-sided conversation,” she continued. “Both sides have the right to express themselves. I don’t dismiss Kesha’s (claims) ... I don’t dismiss the fact that she had a rough time with Dr. Luke — what I’m saying is that I recognize that it has absolutely nothing to do with my vote as a member of the Recording Academy.” Mesfin Fekadu, The Associated Press
New pandemic data suggests nearly as many alcohol users are scaling back as drinking more, but that heavy drinking overall has increased. Statistics Canada released survey results Thursday that found 24 per cent of alcohol users said they drank more after COVID-19 emerged, but that's nearly matched by the 22 per cent of people who said they drank less. Many who drank more pointed to increased stress, boredom and loneliness, with 36 per cent reporting five or more drinks at a time at least once a week in the previous 30 days – the equivalent of a bottle of wine, says StatCan. Most who cut back said it was because of fewer opportunities to socialize, and many cited the desire to lose weight and improve their health. But six per cent still reported five or more drinks at a time at least once a week. "The pandemic has been a source of significant stress and concern for many Canadians because of the social and economic upheavals it has caused," notes the study, conducted Jan. 25 to 31. "Some may have had more free time to consume alcohol and non-medical cannabis, while others may have increased their consumption in an effort to relieve boredom or fight loneliness." Overall, 66 per cent of respondents said they imbibed in the previous 30 days and 18 per cent of those had five or more drinks at a time. That's up from 2017, when 11 per cent of Canadians reported five or more drinks in a similar StatCan study. The data comes from the latest in a series of online surveys on how Canadians are reacting to the pandemic. It included 3,941 respondents aged 15 to 90. The survey also found 34 per cent of cannabis users increased their habit, and like alcohol users, they cited increased stress, boredom and loneliness as factors. Of this group, 35 per cent consumed cannabis five or more days per week. About 12 per cent of cannabis users said they scaled back their habit. Overall, 54 per cent of respondents who used alcohol and 54 per cent who used cannabis reported no change in usage. For many it was already significant – 12 per cent of those drinkers said they had five or more drinks at a time at least once a week, and one quarter of cannabis users said they consumed daily or near-daily. Younger people appeared more likely to cut back on drinking – 33 per cent of those aged 15 to 29 reported drinking less compared to 18 per cent of those aged 30 to 64. However, young people were most likely to consume cannabis and more likely to use more – 43 per cent reported an increase compared to 20 per cent of those aged 50 to 64, and 22 per cent of those aged 65 or older. "Increased social acceptance of cannabis, and the increased number of outlets and range of products available were among factors thought to have led to increased consumption over the past year," said the report. Nearly two-thirds of those who reduced cannabis use said it was because of personal choice, such as their dislike of its effects, while 28 per cent cited fewer opportunities to socialize. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press
LONDON — British police said Thursday that they will not launch a criminal investigation into the journalist Martin Bashir over his 1995 interview with Princess Diana. The Metropolitan Police force said “no further action will be taken” over allegations Bashir used illegal subterfuge to get the interview. Diana’s brother, Charles Spencer, has alleged that Bashir used false documents, including fake bank statements, and other dishonest tactics to convince Diana to agree to the interview. Police Commander Alex Murray said detectives had “carefully assessed” the allegations and sought advice from lawyers. “Following this detailed assessment and in view of the advice we received, we have determined that it is not appropriate to begin a criminal investigation into these allegations,” he said. “No further action will be taken. “In this matter, as in any other, should any significant new evidence come to light we will assess it," he added. The BBC has begun its own investigation, led by a retired judge, into the circumstances surrounding the program. The interview, in which Diana famously said “there were three of us in this marriage” — referring to Prince Charles’ relationship with Camilla Parker-Bowles — was watched by millions of people and sent shockwaves through the monarchy. Diana divorced from Charles in 1996 and died in a Paris car crash in 1997 as she was pursued by paparazzi. Charles married Camilla, now the Duchess of Cornwall, in 2005. The Associated Press
1. “The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse” by Charlie Mackesy (HarperOne) 2. “The Four Winds” by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin’s Press) 3. “Believe IT” by Jamie Kem Lima (Gallery Books) 4. “Firefly Lane” by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin’s Griffin) 5. “I Love You to the Moon and Back” by Amelia Hepworth (Tiger Tales) 6. “A Court of Silver Flames” by Sarah J. Maas (Bloomsbury) 7. “Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr. Seuss (Random House) 8. “The Kaiser's Web” by Steve Berry (Minotaur) 9. “Guess How Much I Love You” by Sam McBratney (Candlewick) 10. “Kingdom of Shadow and Light” by Karen Marie Moning (Dell) 11. “One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish” by Dr. Seuss (Random House) 12. “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster” by Bill Gates (Knopf) 13. “Bridgerton: The Duke and I” by Julia Quinn (Avon) 14. “Fox in Socks” by Dr. Seuss (Random House Books for Young Readers) 15. “Dr. Seuss's ABC” by Dr. Seuss (Random House Books for Young Readers) 16. “Love You Forever” by Robert Munsch (Firefly Books) 17. “The Cat in the Hat” by Dr. Seuss (Random House) 18. “Bridgerton: The Viscount Who Loved Me” by Julia Quinn (Avon) 19. “Are You My Mother?” by P.D. Eastman (Random House Books for Young Readers) 20. “The Midnight Library” by Matt Haig (Viking) 21. “The Pegan Diet” by Mark Hyman (Little, Brown Spark) 22. “Atomic Habits” by James Clear (Avery) 23. “Keep Sharp” by Sanjay Gupta (Simon & Schuster) 24. “Think Again” by Adam Grant (Viking) 25. “Triple Chocolate Cheesecake Murder” by Joanne Fluke (Kensington) The Associated Press