Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu travelled to Saudi Arabia and met its crown prince, an Israeli official said on Monday, in what would be the first publicly confirmed visit there by an Israeli leader as the countries close ranks against Iran. Earlier, Israeli media said Netanyahu had secretly flown on Sunday to Neom, on the Red Sea, for talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Reports of the meeting between the crown prince and Netanyahu were denied by Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud.
During Nova Scotia's fall municipal elections, two mayoral candidates said Cape Breton Regional Municipality was either bankrupt or nearly so.That's not the case, say others."We're a bankrupt municipality. People know. This whole island knows that," mayoral candidate Archie MacKinnon said during one of the election debates.Chris Abbass said during a debate that CBRM is "on the verge of financial collapse." In another, he said the municipality is not sustainable."We're slowly going bankrupt and if we don't do something about our cost-effectiveness and our efficiency in government, we're going to become ... a ward of the province or something, but we won't be anymore."But Mark Gilbert, a retired finance expert who was with the Department of Municipal Affairs and is a retired local government professor at Dalhousie University, said CBRM's financial statements show otherwise.The municipality does have net debt of roughly $145 million, but Gilbert said if you add in non-financial assets, it is more than $300 million in the black."This doesn't look like a municipality that doesn't have the wherewithal to continue operating," he said.With that much debt, a big question is future infrastructure needs and the municipality's ability to pay for the cost of borrowing through taxes or user fees, Gilbert said.However, CBRM's debt-service ratio is just over 10 per cent and the province doesn't red flag that until it hits 15 per cent or more.Gilbert said that means the municipality could borrow if it needed to finance large projects."If they were interested in borrowing, the capacity would certainly be there," he said."The thing that most municipalities are concerned about, and I did some research in this area for Infrastructure Canada, is not so much being able to borrow, but it's being able to service the debt."Jennifer Campbell, CBRM's chief financial officer, said the municipality would only be in trouble under extraordinary circumstances."For example, all of our long-term debt would have to be called at once, resulting in an immediate financial obligation of over $80 million and … that is not going to happen," she said.CBRM has long-term debt financing through the province's Municipal Finance Corporation that spread payments out over 10 years, Campbell said."If you're going to look at our net debt through the lens of immediate pressure, that's going to overinflate that and make it look like we aren't solvent, when, in reality, that obligation is due over a long period of time and we're well positioned to meet those obligations over that term."We have not defaulted on those terms, nor are we even close to defaulting on those terms."Municipality a going concernIt would be a struggle if all the debt came due in one year, because non-financial assets can't be easily liquidated, she said.Vehicles and buildings could be sold, but some non-financial assets would be more difficult to convert into cash."How do you sell a used municipal road or used municipal sewer pipes? There's simply no market for that," Campbell said.Last year's audited financial statement shows the municipality is a going concern. CBRM ended the year with a slight surplus of $12,000.It's not yet clear what the pandemic's impact will be on this year's finances, but a current statement is due to be unveiled at Tuesday's council meeting.MORE TOP STORIES
A Windsor family is facing the stark possibility of homelessness at the end of the month, as their search for a place to live becomes increasingly desperate. Jennifer and Daniel Adeogun have been looking for a place to live ever since their apartment building went up in flames on Halloween. An electrical wire failure on a third floor balcony caused $1.5 million in damage and displaced nearly 100 tenants, including the Adeoguns. Property management told them the building will reopen within six months to a year, and advised tenants to look for a month-to-month rental in the meantime, but the task has been proven difficult. "Everybody wants us to sign a one-year lease. So, that's a very big challenge," said Jennifer. In October, Windsor's housing market was the hottest in Canada, with home sale prices up 17 per cent in the third quarter. Rent has increased in turn, say relators. "Where we find the places, like just say for month-to-month, places are like $2,600 a month," said Jennifer. "We're practically days from being homeless by the end of this month," Daniel said. "Even if you tell them the story, they don't seem to be sympathetic to that. You know, they just want that one-year lease signed."The couple, who are both personal support workers, say of the places they have found that offer month-to-month rentals, the cost is either too high, or aren't suitable for their children, who are 14 and 12 and sometimes spend time alone at home. Help from colleaguesUntil now, the Adeoguns had been staying with relatives. That's no longer an option; before the apartment fire, the relative gave notice that they'd be moving out at the end of November. Now, they're looking at moving into a motel for a few days or weeks until a suitable short-term rental becomes available. Katie Dennison, Jennifer's direct supervisor at Oak Park LaSalle Retirement Residence, set up a GoFundMe page for the family to help pay for moving costs and storage of their belongings."We want to take care of all of our employees and we're all like a second family here," she said. "[Jennifer] is so great with her residents and she just gives them her all. And she comes to work every day and she's a hard worker. So I think just coming together to help out one of our own family is just so important."She's hoping to raise $5,000 and is nearly halfway there.Dennison says most of the donations are from staff from the couple's workplaces, but she is "pretty impressed" with how far it's gone."Just seeing everyone coming together and giving donations is pretty remarkable."The Adeoguns say they feel "beat down" and "overwhelmed" with the whole process, despite the help they've been getting from their workplaces.'We want to go back'They say they work full-time and try to hide their struggle searching for a place to live from their children; they are dealing with enough with school during a pandemic, said Daniel. "How do you tell kids that you're homeless?" Daniel said, adding that normally during this time, the family would be decorating and getting ready for Christmas, but are now left wondering where they're going to live next,"We want to go back to where we lived. That's where our whole life is," he said.
For more than 40 years, an important piece of Acadian art languished in the basement of Louis-J-Robichaud High School in Shediac.The theatre curtain, measuring three metres by 5½ metres, depicts a scene from the deportation of the Acadians in the mid-18th century.Commissioned in 1931, the canvas was painted by Acadian artist Edouard Gautreau.The curtain hung in the Shemogue parish theatre hall until the 1960s, when the hall fell into disrepair, but the work of art was spared.Over the years, the canvas became increasingly damaged until it was rescued by the late Father Maurice Léger in 1979 and put in the care of the Société Historique de la Mer Rouge.It sat in the high school basement for decades, before ownership was transferred to the Nation Prospère Acadie charity in May 2020, with the promise of restoration."When we first unveiled it here when it was brought here a lot of us thought "Oh my goodness, this is so damaged, what can we do with this?" said Daniel LeBlanc, the organization's executive director."But the work began and suddenly we started to see colours appear, very beautiful colours, and I think we got the sense that this could be restored to a very high-quality painting."A grant of $7,500 from the Sheila Hugh Mackay Foundation helped get the restoration work started.Over the summer, the canvas got its first treatment, which removed dirt and consolidated some of the missing sections. It had been ripped in half in the 1970s.It was also put on display, at the Musée de Kent in Bouctouche, for the first time in a half a century."Throughout the painting we see sections which were lost unfortunately with deterioration over time," LeBlanc said. "There was a lot of filth and mould over it and so the work of the restoration expert was to prepare it so that it could be saved for future restoration work and also to expose it so that the public could see." It will soon be taken down and rested on a flat surface for the winter, stabilizing it so it doesn't have any stress on the threads of the painting. Then it will be ready for the next stage of restoration."Painstakingly all the sections of the painting which have more filth on it, even mould, need to be cleaned thoroughly and the sections finally need to be patched in with paint," LeBlanc said.A specialist will match colours and repaint some of the damaged sections so it can finally be completed. A canvas will be needed underneath to keep everything supported.The final stage will be to frame the piece and have it permanently displayed.LeBlanc said this was one of artist Edouard Gautreau's largest works of art.Born in Saint-Paul-de-Kent in 1906, Gautreau started painting at a young age, and he painted many large pieces in New Brunswick churches. LeBlanc said that unfortunately, many of those pieces were lost in fires.LeBlanc said this canvas is special."Gautreau was very skilled in copying paintings but also bringing his own intuition and colours on paintings, so this is quite a much improved version of the small picture that you find in the Evangeline book," he said.LeBlanc said the first phase of restoration cost about $15,000, but the next phase will be more costly, at more than $75,000.LeBlanc is still working on raising the funds, but hopes the restoration work can begin again next summer. He'd like to see it completed by late 2021 or in 2022.LeBlanc said the canvas has had a long journey, one he'll be happy to see completed."We went from discouragement to hope that we can actually complete this project and it can be a beautiful project for Acadia."
A former refugee and a Saskatoon teenager are working together to help African families escape persecution."It's important to work with people who know the issues and know what's needed," Eric James, 17, said.Several years ago, Fulgence Ndagijimana was imprisoned for his religious beliefs in his native Burundi. A group of people in Saskatoon worked hard to secure his release through fundraising, a letter-writing campaign and other advocacy.One of those people was Eric James, who was just 12 years old at the time. He created and maintained a website, which attracted more than 1,200 signatures calling for Ndagijimana's release."I felt like it was appalling. It was not right. It shouldn't happen," James said. "As a 12-year-old, I didn't have a great understanding of why it was happening. I just felt that it shouldn't."Ndagijimana was eventually released and resettled in Saskatoon. He recently moved to Ottawa and is continuing his studies at the University of Saskatchewan.But he hasn't forgotten what it felt like in prison, and to have that surge of support from hundreds of strangers halfway around the world. That's why he and James are now fighting to bring other refugee families to Canada.James and Ndagijimana have raised more than $30,000 so far. Once they raise another $5,000, an anonymous donor has agreed to match it.They will apply to the Canadian government to bring a family of six refugees to Canada."I'm thankful I'm alive," Ndagijimana said. "I want to do something positive and helpful with my life for others. I felt the same thing from many thousands of other people."The charity he founded, Flaming Chalice International, helps refugees to resettle, but also helps those stuck in refugee camps or other precarious situations."When I was released [from prison], I felt a renewed sense of purpose," Ndagijimana said."To have someone like Eric helping me, someone so young — that gives me hope."
A Canadian police officer involved in the arrest of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou two years ago in a U.S. extradition case testified on Monday he did not plan to obtain her mobile phone passcodes or search her electronic devices. Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Constable Gurvinder Dhaliwal told a Canadian court that he and his partner were "discreet" about their contact with Canadian border officials on the eve of Meng's arrest on Dec. 1, 2018.
Island Nature Trust staff knew there was garbage in the Culloden forested natural area, but when they started to clean it up about a week ago, they were surprised with what they found.The site in eastern P.E.I. has a large pit in it that was once used as an illegal dump. Island Nature Trust took ownership of the land in 2003. Normally, the pit is covered in water, but this year it wasn't, providing staff the perfect opportunity to start cleaning it up."We knew that there would be quite a bit of garbage based on what we could see at the surface," said Amy Frost-Wicks, land stewardship program co-ordinator with Island Nature Trust. But once staff and volunteers started to clean it up, they realized there was a lot more garbage than expected."We were pulling out bags that were kind of buried under a foot or a foot and a half of soil," said Frost-Wicks."None of us realized how extensive it actually was."By the time the team's first effort at cleaning up the site was done, about 635 kilograms of garbage was removed, said Frost-Wicks. If staff continue to find garbage on the site, professional remediation might be needed."That would involve a lot more work. That could even involve having heavy machinery come in and just completely dig out the whole site," said Frost-Wicks. Island Nature Trust staff estimate the dump site is at least a couple of decades old."We were also finding some really old gas cans and old chewing tobacco containers and old gum containers, like the metal tins. So it could have been as old as the 60s," she said. Frost-Wicks said the garbage poses numerous problems."The plastics, as it ages in the sun, it can become brittle and it breaks apart. And then you get all these smaller pieces of plastic, which are even harder to clean up. Also, wildlife can mistake that plastic for food," she said. Finding sites of this scale on P.E.I. is uncommon, said Frost-Wicks. "At least on natural areas that Island Nature Trust owns, thankfully, we don't find them too often. I mean, there are inevitably some sites that you find that have kind of older piles of garbage, like at the back of fields and stuff like that, or you'll find an old car in the woods every once in a while," she said.More from CBC P.E.I.
It's been said the COVID-19 pandemic has lifted the veil to reveal some of the horrors that have existed at many of Canada's long-term care facilities.Advocates for improved care and standards — and a shift away from institutional care for seniors — believe now is the time to demand change."This generation deserves way more than they're getting," said Leslie Peers, who says her mother, Marilyn Hindmarch, received substandard care during a five-week stay at a long-term care facility in Edmonton. The stay was brief but fraught with fear, anger and regret for the family.Peers has joined a new group calling itself FACE, which stands for Families Advocating for Compassionate Eldercare. The group is urging the provincial government to make a series of changes at privately run seniors homes that receive public funding, including improved staffing models with a set ratio of one health-care aide for every five residents.Peers believes the ratio at her mother's former care home was one health-care aide for every 15 residents.FACE is also calling for more accountability and enforcement for care-home operators who violate provincial standards and regulations that govern long-term care and supportive living facilities.Two days after her arrival at the publicly funded, privately run facility in March 2019, Hindmarch fell and broke three ribs. Less than two weeks later, another fall left her with a fractured pelvis. Hindmarch, who was 84, was dealing with several medical conditions including dementia when she moved into the facility and was separated from her husband of 67 years.Peers brought her mother's situation to the attention of Health Minister Tyler Shandro, who met with the family in September 2019.The matter was also raised in the legislature by the Official Opposition.The family filed a complaint with the Protection of Persons in Care, which found in a preliminary report that staff failed to properly document the injuries and notify senior staff about Hindmarch's injuries and symptoms.An X-ray was ordered for Hindmarch 26 hours after her first fall, when she suffered broken ribs, even though she said she had pain on the left side of her torso, that it hurt when she breathed. The report stated health-care aides did not report those symptoms to Hindmarch's physician and no one offered to call 911. The incident was not reported to Alberta Health as required.The preliminary investigation recommended the facility update its fall prevention strategies and post-fall policies.Twelve days later, Hindmarch fell again and fractured her pelvis. A preliminary investigation revealed staff didn't document the incident properly or relay Hindmarch's report of pain and evidence of bruising to a physician. A third investigation revealed several pressure sores on Hindmarch that were not documented, assessed or monitored.Peers says the family made the decision to move her mother out of the facility and she stayed with her mom for five days before the move to another centre was finalized because she felt her mother was not safe. They transferred her to a private facility where she was reunited with her husband. Their final stay together was brief as Hindmarch died three months later. 'I want it out there for everybody to see'Crystal McAteer says 2019 was also a year filled with anxiety, fear, anger and personal loss.As mayor of the Town of High Level, Alta., she led her community through a state of emergency when it was threatened by the Chuckegg Creek wildfire.The fire forced the evacuation of a number of areas, including a long-term care home in Manning, where her father, Henry Lawrence, was a resident. He was airlifted to an acute care facility in Fairview. McAteer says her father's condition rapidly deteriorated after he developed a bed sore that became infected. He was eventually returned to his care home in Manning, where a doctor told McAteer the infection may have been the result of lengthy exposure to soiled adult diapers, she says.Lawrence stayed in Fairview for about four weeks before he was transferred back to the long-term care home in Manning. He died five days later at the age of 88.She believes her father's death is the result of the poor care that he received. McAteer says the staff at the acute care hospital may have been overwhelmed following the arrival of seven high need patients who were transferred to the facility. An investigation by Protection of Persons in Care found in a preliminary report that Lawrence did not receive adequate nutrition or medical attention during his stay at the acute care facility, which resulted in "serious bodily injury."McAteer, as one of the founders of FACE, is imploring the government to improve seniors' care in Alberta."We want compassionate care and we want accountability," McAteer said from her home in High Level. McAteer says she has several questions, including how often her father was changed, how his bedsore was treated, how often he was bathed and how long did he have to sit in dirty adult diapers. "My dad must have laid in his Depends for over 12 hours at a time. That's just not humane," she said.Improved seniors' careIn addition to improved staffing at continuing care facilities, FACE wants to see "strengthened legislated penalties" for service providers who fail to meet care and accommodation standards. It would also like to see unannounced inspections of facilities and steep fines for operators who are found to be non-compliant, and it wants those inspection reports made public.It's also pushing for a shift away from institutional care and wants the government to fund personal care homes at the same per-resident level as long-term care facilities. It wants the government to "immediately implement innovative pilot projects through the province to move beyond the one-model system of institutional care for seniors."Personal care homesEdmonton-based ExquisiCare is an example of a privately run facility where residents receive no government funding. The company offers assisted living, long-term and palliative care in "purpose built" homes for up to 10 people in a residential setting.The company's president and CEO says the government should put the needs of seniors first by allowing continuing care subsidies to follow the person, not the facility. "Right now, unfortunately, we don't fit into the government-funded system," said Dawn Harsch."For people who want to live in a smaller, more home-like environment, they should still be supported by their government to live where they want to live," said Harsch.But at $8,000 per month, it's an expensive option.Lorie Grundy knows firsthand what it's like for her family to lose government funding for her mother, but it was a decision they took on their own after her 100-year-old mother suffered physical abuse at a publicly funded long-term care home in Edmonton. Dorothy Forbes's arms were bruised and cut from her wrists to her shoulders during an incident with a health-care aide in February. Grundy believes it happened at bed time when Forbes was being asked to get changed into her pyjamas."I wheeled mum up to the desk on the unit and asked the nurse, 'what happened?' "And she looked at them [her mother's arms] and she was quite taken aback and she said, 'I don't know,'" said Grundy.The family moved Forbes to a private facility operated by ExquisiCare nine days later. The $5,700 monthly government subsidy was discontinued and the family is now paying $7,900 per month. Grundy would like the government to make the subsidy available for everyone regardless of whether they choose publicly funded, privately run facilities or fully private personal care homes."The government subsidy should be provided to every Alberta citizen who needs long-term care," she said.FACE launched its website this month and is hoping people sign the petition that demands the government make changes to improve patient care. In an email to the CBC, a spokesperson for Alberta Health says the government is reviewing continuing care legislation "to ensure we have the framework in place to protect those in care."The spokesperson said other work includes a separate review "of the facility-based continuing care system" in light of the COVID-19 pandemic which has "disproportionally impacted continuing care facilities."Leslie Peers knows her group faces a monumental challenge trying to convince the government to make changes. "I think we just said, 'we have to do this,'" she said."A lot of us are doing it in honour of our parents who have passed away.""They cared about their communities. They cared about others. And so, in my particular case, my father advocated all the time for people who needed support, needed a voice, for they didn't have it. So, in some ways, it's his legacy that I am following through on," said Peers.Bryan Labby is an enterprise reporter with CBC Calgary. If you have a good story idea or tip, you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @CBCBryan.
SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of — Authorities in the South Korean capital on Monday announced a tightening of social distancing regulations, including shutting nightclubs, limiting service hours at restaurants and reducing public transportation.The measures going into effect on Tuesday also include a ban on public rallies or demonstrations of more than 10 people. Restaurants can provide only take out and delivery after 9 p.m., and public transportation will be limited after 10 p.m.Acting Seoul Mayor Seo Jung-hyup told reporters one-third of city employees will work from home. He recommend churches convert to online worship services only.Earlier on Monday, the country reported 271 new cases of the coronavirus.South Korea has saw the virus spread faster after authorities eased social distancing restrictions to the lowest level in October amid concerns about a weak economy.Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency Director Jeong Eun-kyeong said tightening guidelines was inevitable as a failure to slow transmissions now could “break the dam” in anti-virus efforts and result in a surge in infections nationwide that may overwhelm hospital systems.“We need to reduce people-to-people contact,” she said during a briefing Monday, pleading with people to cancel year-end meetings and other gatherings.In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:— Chinese authorities are testing millions of people, imposing lockdowns and shutting down schools after multiple locally transmitted coronavirus cases were discovered in three cities across the country last week. As temperatures drop, large-scale measures are being enacted in the cities of Tianjin, Shanghai and Manzhouli. Many experts and government officials have warned that the chance of the virus spreading will be greater during the cold weather. On Monday, the National Health Commission reported two new locally transmitted cases in Shanghai over the last 24 hours, bringing the total to seven since Friday.— Indonesia’s confirmed coronavirus cases have surpassed half a million as the government of the world’s fourth most populous nation scrambles to procure vaccines to help it win the fight against the pandemic. The Health Ministry reported 4,442 new cases on Monday to bring the country’s total to 502,110, the highest toll in Southeast Asia and second in Asia only to India’s more than 9.1 million confirmed cases. The ministry said that the death toll from the virus is 16,002, and that it has been adding 3,000-5,000 daily cases since mid-September. President Joko Widodo said his administration is working on a mass vaccination program for the vast archipelago nation, home to more than 270 million people.— Sri Lanka has reopened some of the thousands of schools that have been closed for more than a month due to a surge of the coronavirus. Schools will remain closed in Colombo and it’s suburbs as the number of cases is still climbing in those parts. According to the government’s decision, schools were re-opened only for students in grades 6 to 13. The Education Ministry said there are 10,165 state-run schools in the country and arrangements were made to open 5,100 schools on Monday. Sri Lanka closed schools last month when two new clusters emerged in Colombo and it’s suburbs. The confirmed cases from the two clusters had grown to 16,639 by Monday.— India has registered 44,059 another new cases of the coronavirus and 511 deaths in the past 24 hours. New Delhi on Monday added 5,879 new cases 111 deaths and its rate of positive testing is more than three times the national average, authorities said. India has reported more than 9 million cases since the pandemic began, second behind the United States.___Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreakThe Associated Press
Regina is welcoming a new mayor and ten council members at tonight's swearing in ceremony.Sandra Masters, the first woman to be voted to mayor's office in Regina, will be sworn in at Regina City Hall tonight at 7 p.m. CST.Five of the ten council members are new: Shanon Zachidniak for Ward 8, Landon Mohl for Ward 10, Cheryl Stadinchuk for Ward 1, Terina Shaw for Ward 7 and Daniel LeBlanc for Ward 6.COVID-19 protocols will be in place during the ceremony. All members will be wearing masks, sanitizing their hands and physically distancing.The ceremony will be live streamed on the City of Regina website.
In May, the City of Mississauga gnashed its teeth. At the time, it was knee-deep in the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. A number of long-term care homes in the city were in outbreak, with dozens of deaths recorded. Business owners were also hurting, their shuttered bars, restaurants and gyms collecting dust and debt. Inside City Hall, losses were mounting daily. Reluctantly, the City had been forced to let roughly 2,000 staff, mostly part-time, seasonal employees, go from its empty recreation facilities. Help eventually offered by the federal and provincial governments was still months away from materializing. Quietly, while the world was distracted, the Doug Ford PC government was forging ahead with its plans to seismically shift how developers pay for growth. Under the area of development subsidies known as a Community Benefits Charge (CBC), the Province was toying with new rules for planning. These fees are often paid by builders to create enhanced features such as green spaces or other amenities that are built using additional money charged to developers in exchange for project changes that generally create more profit, such as adding additional floors to a condo building. Changes were introduced as one of many initiatives in Bill 108 (More Homes, More Choice) — legislation that was almost universally decried around municipal council tables when it received royal assent in 2019. The Province allowed consultation in May (when Mississauga was preoccupied with its pandemic response) which revolved around parks. Just how much greenspace developers needed to provide for even more new residents that would eventually be housed in expanded projects, was a question that created tension. According to staff reports in Brampton and Mississauga at the time, the proposed changes meant developers would pay less to cities, for the features they have for decades been expected to provide when building large residential projects. Municipalities, under the PC government’s plan, would be worse off, while developers would be further ahead. “At a time when we are grappling with the unprecedented financial impacts of COVID-19, the proposed Community Benefits Charge will leave Council [with] even more difficult decisions,” then City Manager, Janice Baker, told Mississauga Council. Under the current rules, developers have to offer a certain amount of parkland to cities and, if they want to reduce that amount, they have to pay a fee. The CBC proposals limited parkland related contributions to 10 percent of the land’s value for high-rise buildings, meaning the projects with the most residents would offer the least public space per capita. “The proposed CBC weakens the link between population growth and the increased need for services,” a Mississauga staff report earlier in the year stated. In Mississauga, under the current system, high and medium-density developments contribute 74 percent of parkland (either physically or in payments). The CBC proposals meant dense developments would cough up just 31 percent of the funding for the city’s new greenspace, with non-residential and low-density homes (which already have backyards) making up the difference. It seemed illogical. After a passionate response from Mississauga and other cities angered by the prospect of a revenue hit while they are reeling financially because of the pandemic, the PC government has rolled back its proposed changes. Under Bill 197 (COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act) Queen’s Park rapidly back-peddled, returning parkland contributions by developers to the pre-pandemic levels. “The new community benefits charge authority provides local governments with the flexibility to collect funds for any growth-related services required due to higher density residential development, as long as those costs are not being recovered under other tools,” a spokesperson for the Ministry of Municipalities and Housing explained to The Pointer. “A community benefits charge may enable municipalities to recover the capital costs of any service, as long as it is needed to support new growth … the types of services funded through community benefits charges could include parks, recreation centres, affordable housing, child care, cycling infrastructure and others.” “We were very pleased the Province listened to the feedback from municipalities and rolled back many of the proposed Bill 108 provisions around the Community Benefits Charge,” Jason Bevan, director, city planning strategies, told The Pointer. “We look forward to seeing the final CBC regulations on the percentage of land value cap.” The Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) which advocates for the lowest tier of government, said it was “pleased to see the addition of eligible services for development charge recovery being restored” alongside “maintaining existing parkland provisions and the flexibility of CBCs as a tool to recover additional costs”. After a year of consternation for cities, the Province has largely walked back its plans for the CBC. The legislation, initially blasted as a developer freebie, has gradually been softened. Originally, the new legislative changes impacted a range of community features that municipalities have to provide for residents under the development proposals submitted by builders after assembling land for growth. Municipalities were concerned they would have to stretch the funds from the charge to cover features such as libraries, community centres, parks and playgrounds. Responding to feedback, the Province changed tack and protected a range of community features that will continue to be covered by development charges. Specific infrastructure, including libraries and other “soft” services, are covered under the Development Charges Act. Developers will continue to pay for the costs associated with growth. But, realistically, these charges are generally covered by buyers who pay for them through increased unit costs that developers charge when setting their sale prices. It seems much more fair to have the people in a particular new development pay for the surrounding features and services they will enjoy, rather than having property tax payers in general cover the expenses when municipalities have to fund them. At the beginning of October, further regulations were released which made the CBC picture a little clearer still. While the charge is designed to capture certain soft community services not always covered by traditional development charges, there are several areas explicitly excluded. Long-term care, universities, clubhouses or retirement homes cannot be funded using the latest form of CBCs. The new CBC mechanism, brought in to codify an element of development which previously operated as more of a negotiation, comes with strict rules. Cities are tasked, over the next two years, with creating a CBC strategy and bylaw to estimate the amount and type of development where the charge may be used. The strategy should also estimate the increased need for facilities and services as a direct result of developments and the associated growth-related costs. It must acknowledge any grants or subsidies made to help with such projects. A potential sticking point for municipal councils is a cap on the CBC, meaning the charge cannot exceed 4 percent of the value of the lands being developed. If developers disagree with the land valuation, they can dispute it. The likely outcome will see buyers cover any increased costs, as developers across the province won’t have to worry about unfair pricing competition because all builders will have to raise prices. In the end, it will be mostly young buyers who will absorb the additional financial burden for creating enhanced community features they will benefit from. Moving forward, municipalities will also produce an annual report showing how much money is in their CBC and parkland reserves. The reports will detail where money is spent and how projects not using CBC charges were funded. The concept behind the strategy and bylaw is to make costs more predictable for developers and reduce negotiations between individual builders and local politicians. Exactly what community features Mississauga will prioritize under the new CBC system will become clearer over the next two years, as the City draws together its bylaw for the charge. These community standards will best serve the public if they are directly involved and make clear what they want in their neighbourhoods. In essence, as long as cities don’t double charge through other parkland contributions or development charges, they can hit developers with a bill for any growth costs, other than the small list of features that are exempt. The amount is capped under the 4 percent limit, based on the land value. But it still gives high-growth municipalities such as Mississauga and Brampton welcome breathing room as they no longer have to worry about paying for a range of new community features while struggling with the financial damage caused by the pandemic. Smart decision making around the bylaw, with some elements still emerging, should help ensure that as new developments keep springing up across the city, growth will pay for growth in Mississauga. Email: email@example.com Twitter: @isaaccallan Tel: 647 561-4879 COVID-19 is impacting all Canadians. At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories relating to the pandemic and those of public interest to ensure every resident of Brampton and Mississauga has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you.Isaac Callan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Pointer
The Big Land is set to see some big snowfall amounts, with parts of Labrador under weather warnings as a snowy storm system moves into the region beginning Monday in some areas.Central Labrador is under a blizzard warning, with the Happy Valley-Goose Bay area expected to see the most snow, totalling between 50 to 70 centimetres, to possibly 80 centimetres, falling between Monday to Tuesday evening.Environment Canada also expects wind gusts up to 90 kilometres an hour in the central region.The blizzard warnings extend north through to Hopedale, with those winds persisting and between 25 to 40 centimetres of snow expected, beginning Monday evening. Snowfall warnings for lesser amounts reach up to Nain as well as through to Cartwright and Black Tickle.Much of Newfoundland is under a wind warning for Tuesday, from the Avalon Peninsula, all along the south and southwest coasts, western Newfoundland and areas along the northeast coast bracing for gusts of around 80 km/hr, with stronger gusts up to 110 km/hr expected.The Wreckhouse area can expect gusts up to 140 km/hr overnight into Tuesday.That weather system has prompted Marine Atlantic to delay its Monday day crossings until the evening, but the ferry also advises its evening crossings as well as those on Tuesday could be impacted.Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Colourful cockatoos, amazons, and macaws in dozens of cages line the walls in each room of a rental house in Delta. A skeleton crew of workers and volunteers tend to the birds, unencumbered by the constant cacophony of chirps, songs and screeches."It's a lot of work," said Jan Robson, a spokesperson for the Greyhaven Bird Sanctuary. "We have 60 birds in there, and they have big cages — and big poop."And now, big problems. Greyhaven is among a long list of non-profits and registered charities in B.C. that are grappling with revenue losses due to COVID-19 and rethinking the traditional fundraising model.Greyhaven has been a refuge for exotic birds for decades. It runs shelters out of two homes and operates entirely on donations, fundraising, and adoption fees to find homes for countless birds, many of whom have been abandoned by past owners.This year, revenues have dropped, making it a challenge to operate on what had already been a tight budget. Marquee fundraising events like its biannual open house have been cancelled, in favour of virtual alternatives.There's been about a 15 per cent decrease in funding, Robson said. "We're trying to raise funds for six months rent for this particular facility," she added. "That's one of those things where we're like, 'How can we make this work?'""When you're caring for over 100 birds, and your money is 15 per cent down, it's a punch in the gut, for sure," she said.'These organizations touch all of our lives'There are more than a thousand non-profits and charities in B.C., a diverse sector that generates billions of dollars in GDP annually. They often fill gaps in under-served communities, providing services for the elderly, people with disabilities, and vulnerable animals.But many are feeling the squeeze. In May, a survey of more than 1,000 organizations found that 23 per cent of operators feared they wouldn't last six months."A lot of non-profits and charities have had to close their doors," said Alison Brewin, executive director of the non-profit Vantage Point."Across the board, for all organizations, they're seeing decreases in their earned incomes, their donations, and their other funding sources."A notable example is the Vancouver Aquarium, which is currently fighting bankruptcy."These organizations touch all of our lives," Brewin said. "We all connect with non-profits and charities across the province, and the vulnerability that's shown up is quite scary."Virtual events not as effective as in-person fundraisersIn the time since Vantage Point conducted the survey, Brewin said many organizations continue to rely on emergency measures, including the federal wage subsidy.Groups like Greyhaven have switched to virtual events to raise funding, but the events typically don't generate the same amount of money.It's a similar trend for larger organizations. The BC Cancer Foundation is down tens of millions of dollars in revenue this year, according to president and CEO Sarah Roth.The foundation's yeatrly headline event, the Ride to Conquer Cancer, would typically generate about $8 to 10 million. This year, the virtual event generated about $2 million.COVID-19 restrictions have also forced the foundation to stop door-to-door fundraising efforts as well, although it says its number of monthly donors has remained consistent.In all, it expects to end the year with about $40 million in revenue, compared to previous highs of around $70 million."Cancer doesn't stop, and neither can we," Roth said. "We just need to adjust, we're being very mindful of our costs."With a vaccine on the horizon, there's hope that traditional revenue streams could be restored. But mounting cases in B.C. means most groups aren't holding their breath quite yet.And with COVID-19 restrictions tightening, the sector isn't expected to rebound anytime soon.The BC Cancer Foundation is anticipating at least another year of its remote model."It's just changed," Roth said."I think there will be a huge appetite to go back to more in-person experiences for sure, and we'll get ready for that."
In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Nov. 23 ...What we are watching in Canada ...OTTAWA -- Businesses struggling to pay the bills because of the COVID-19 pandemic will be able to start applying today for a long-awaited new commercial rent-relief program offered by the federal government.The new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy replaces an earlier rent-support program for businesses introduced in the spring that saw little pickup because it relied on landlords to apply for help.The new program will cover up to 65 per cent of rent or commercial mortgage interest on a sliding scale based on revenue declines, with an extra 25 per cent available to the hardest-hit firms.Federal cabinet ministers will highlight the program during a news conference this morning in which they will also open two initiatives designed to help businesses owned by Black Canadians.The Canadian Federation of Independent Business, which represents thousands of small companies across the country, is welcoming the new rent program as long overdue for firms hard hit by COVID-19.However, it is criticizing the government for not opening it to businesses that would have qualified for the previous rent-relief program, but could not access federal funds because their landlords chose not to apply.\---Also this ... OTTAWA -- N-D-P MP Laurel Collins is reviving a call for the environment commissioner to be a stand-alone officer of Parliament.Collins is pushing a motion at the environment committee to pull the position out of the Office of the Auditor General and make it a separate entity.The Victoria MP says the commissioner needs its own dedicated staff to ensure it can fulfil its mandate.She says the commissioner used to perform up to five environmental audits annually but has just one underway this year and two planned for 2021.The Liberal government of former prime minister Jean Chrétien created the position in 1995, but did not meet a campaign promise to make it an office independent from the auditor general.The motion from Collins is nearly identical to one passed by the same committee 13 years ago but the request was never fulfilled.\---ICYMI ...OTTAWA -- Canada and Britain struck a new trade deal on Saturday, allowing the long-standing partners to trumpet a commercial triumph in the face of the economic devastation wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic.The interim deal beat the looming Dec. 31 Brexit deadline, replacing Canada's current agreement with Britain under the European Union that covers trade between the two countries. Announced amid a virtual gathering of G-20 leaders, the interim pact is a placeholder that buys Canada and Britain another year to reach a more comprehensive agreement while also warding off a no-deal scenario that would have triggered new tariffs on a range of Canadian exports on Jan. 1 But few details were released about the new agreement. Breaking with past practice during trade negotiations, there were no pre-announcement briefings for journalists and no text was released.\---What we are watching in the U.S. ...WASHINGTON, D.C. — U-S President Donald Trump’s campaign has filed plenty of lawsuits in six states as he tries to upend an election he lost to Democrat Joe Biden. The strategy may have played well in front of TV cameras, but it’s proved a disaster in court, where judges uniformly have rejected claims of vote fraud. The latest case ended Saturday, when a federal judge in Pennsylvania said Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani presented only “speculative accusations” and no proof of rampant corruption in the vote. A law school professor says the suits threaten the future of elections because so many Americans believe the claims being made by Trump’s team. Meanwhile, Biden is expected to nominate Antony Blinken as secretary of state, according to multiple people familiar with the Biden team’s planning. If nominated and confirmed, Blinken would be a leading force in Biden’s bid to reframe the U.S. relationship with the rest of the world after four years in which Trump questioned longtime alliances.\---What we are watching in the rest of the world ...LONDON -- AstraZeneca says late stage trials of its COVID-19 vaccine developed with Oxford University were “highly effective’’ in preventing disease. The results are based on interim analysis of trials in the U.K. and Brazil of the vaccine developed by Oxford University and manufactured by AstraZeneca. The drugmaker reported today that no hospitalizations or severe cases of COVID-19 were diagnosed in those receiving the vaccine. “These findings show that we have an effective vaccine that will save many lives. Excitingly that one of our dosing regimens may be around 90 per cent effective,’’ said Professor Andrew Pollard, the chief investigator for the trial.Two other drugmakers, Pfizer and Moderna, last week reported preliminary results from late-stage trials showing that their COVID-19 vaccines were almost 95 per cent effective.\---In entertainment ...LOS ANGELES -- Taylor Swift won her third consecutive artist of the year prize at last night's American Music Awards. She beat out Canadians Justin Bieber and The Weeknd for the top award, while also winning favourite music video and favourite pop/rock female artist. Though The Weeknd lost artist of the year, he still kicked off his all-star week as a big winner: Days before he’s expected to land multiple Grammy nominations, the pop star dominated the 2020 American Music Awards with multiple wins. The Toronto native won favourite soul/R&B male artist, favourite soul/R&B album for “After Hours" and favourite soul/R&B song for “Heartless. The Weeknd didn’t break character throughout last night's three-hour show with his gauze-wrapped face, which matched the vibe of his recent album and music videos where he appears blooded and bruised. He was one of several artists who appeared live at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles for the fan-voted awards show. Others taped performances because of the pandemic.Bieber and fellow Canuck pop star Shawn Mendes opened the show with a performance of their new duet "Monster."\---This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 23, 2020The Canadian Press
In 1993, Snoop Dogg released his debut solo album, “Doggystyle,” under the name Snoop Doggy Dogg. (Nov. 23)
Abolition is a vision that aims to eliminate imprisonment, policing and surveillance, and pushes for the creation of vital systems of care that many of our communities lack. For some, prison abolition and feminism do not go together. As a Black feminist, I believe otherwise. My years of organizing within the Quebec feminist movement, specifically the movement to end sexual violence, have convinced me that abolition is feminist at its core.My experience as a survivor of intimate partner and gender-based violence, moreover, has taught me that the police cannot protect us and that the struggle to end violence cannot be found within punitive and carceral systems.But what does abolition mean for feminist struggles? For starters, it helps to distinguish between abolitionist feminism and carceral feminism. Carceral feminists rely on increased punitive state power in the fight to end violence against women (VAW). They believe that we can stop gender-based violence by putting perpetrators in prisons and imposing harsher sentences.One problem with this position is that it ignores and leaves unchallenged the ways patriarchal and racialized violence is exercised through policing and prisons. This position is also based on the false assumption that the threat of punishment will stop violence from occurring. Whereas abolitionists within the feminist movement centre non-punitive, transformative community-based responses rooted in care, such as investing in life-affirming social services.They call for equipping communities with the tools they need to disrupt and intervene in patterns of harm, but also developing accountability processes for those who enact it.But if we defund the police, who will protect us?One of the most common questions I get as an anti-carceral feminist is "what will we do with rapists?" and "how will we keep each other safe?" After working with survivors and hearing testimonies from women who have been victims of gender-based violence, my answer is simple and straightforward. The police have proven their inability to protect us, which explains why an overwhelming majority of victims do not report their assault to the police.Recognizing the violence and re-victimization survivors face when they report their assault and considering the number of police officers accused and convicted of intimate partner and gender-based violence, many victims believe that reparation cannot be obtained through the criminal justice system.On the other hand, divesting from the police and carceral systems and investing in transformative community-based strategies can create innumerable possibilities for obtaining reparation and healing. Imagine investing in mental health services, shelters and sexual assault centres that are accessible and where Black, Indigenous, Trans, Disabled and other survivors of gender-based violence that face systemic discrimination can seek support.Imagine investing in education, social housing and the creation of unarmed service teams outside the police to address mental health, drug-related crises and gender-based violence. All these efforts would address the root of systemic violence.Alliances between anti-prison and VAW movement?Working for rape crisis centres, along with my own personal experiences with the justice system, have led me to explore abolitionist frameworks within feminist organizing. Unfortunately, there isn't much collaboration between anti-prison and feminist anti-violence movements here in Quebec. Considering the ways in which these two struggles intersect and how sexual violence and other forms of gender-based violence are reproduced by the carceral state, convergence seems necessary.Over time, the Quebec VAW movement has grown through state funding, becoming institutionalized, increasing professionalization and undermining its capacity to effectively address gender-based violence. In the process, there has also been a strong shift toward dependence on punitive responses.These groups also pushed forward governmental agendas that conceptualized sexual violence within a framework of criminal law reinforcing broader trends erasing the systemic nature of gender-based violence. Grassroots movements such as INCITE in the United States, have tied the rise of carceral feminisms to the state's co-optation of women's anti-violence movement by attaching funding to collaboration with law enforcement.Healing through transformative justiceAs a movement, where do we go from here? If we are to move forward, we must start acknowledging how gender-based violence is situated within structures of state violence. Our social movements can't claim to be intersectional and support institutions that enact and uphold racism, sexism, colonialism and violence.We need to mobilize and switch responses to gender-based violence from the carceral state to community-based responses rooted in care. We must invest in transformative approaches to gender-based violence prevention that not only help us heal, but prevent further harm.This is our moment. Black Lives Matter, alongside other racial justice movements have pushed abolition out of the margins. Movements to defund the police have gained unprecedented support across North America. Through abolitionist frameworks, the possibilities for ending gender-based violence are endless.On Nov. 26, Marlihan Lopez is organizing an online event tracing how violence against women movements in Quebec have come to rely exclusively on the criminal punishment system to respond to gender-based violence, thus perpetuating a racist, sexist and violent system. Lopez will present an overview of this history and the impact of carceral feminisms in Quebec, Nneka MacGregor will discuss transformative justice as a tool to address violence and Nathalie Batraville will give an introduction to prison abolition. ASL interpretation and translation provided. Please register here.This column is an opinion. For more information about our commentary section, please read our FAQ. CBC Quebec welcomes your pitches for point-of-view essays. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Ownership changes in New Brunswick apartment complexes that in some cases have been generating eviction notices for tenants in entire buildings is causing anxiety among those displaced.It has led to calls for the province to delay the practice, at least while COVID-19 is surging."We're in the orange zone now," said Tara Cripps, who was told last week by National Bank she, her partner and their five children were being put out of their Saint John home of seven years."We can't even say, 'Hey, can we stay at your house?' We're supposed to be all in one family bubble thing again."She said she's going to need friends to help her pack up."And I'm going to need their trucks and their cars and stuff to move. Is somebody going to call the police and be, like, 'There's multiple people going in and out of this house?'"National Bank recently foreclosed on the Saint John apartment building owned by Cripps's landlord and, on Nov. 12, sent a lawyer's letter to her and her partner ordering them and their children to get out two weeks after Christmas."National Bank requires immediate vacant possession of the above noted property," read the notice from its Fredericton lawyer, Paul White. "On behalf of our client we hereby demand vacant possession on or before Wednesday January 6, 2021."Should you not vacate … it will be necessary for us to make court application to have you evicted and we will be asking for costs on behalf of [National Bank].""I've been here seven years and I've never been late on my rent," said Cripps."I've come to the understanding I need to find a new home. OK. But wait until it's a safer time. Wait until we're not in the orange zone. Wait until it's a little bit warmer. I'm hoping someone at the bank has a heart."The eviction of tenants unable to pay rent was halted by the Higgs government in the early days of the pandemic in March but those restrictions were lifted June 1. Since then, a new type of eviction has emerged as large numbers of New Brunswick apartment buildings have changed hands with some of the new owners wanting current tenants out.Ron Blache-Fraser, a local property manager, said out-of-province investors have taken an interest in New Brunswick income properties as attractive real estate investment opportunities."There's a lot of interest from out-of-town buyers for all sorts of buildings in Saint John because the prices are lower, the returns are better," he said. "It's pretty straightforward."In October, two five-unit buildings on Sherbrooke Street in Saint John were purchased by a group of Vancouver-area investors who paid $470,000 for the properties — 35 per cent above their assessed value. The group then issued eviction notices to tenants in one of the buildings so renovations can be done and rents increased.Blache-Fraser is managing those buildings and said they were in poor condition and needed significant work. He expects rents, which were between $475 and $650 per month prior to the purchase, will climb to $975 for a two-bedroom unit once renovations are complete."We issued notice that we would be doing major renovations and gave tenants three-months notice, which we did not have to do," said Blache-Fraser."They need to be out at the end of January. Some are already leaving and we're in the process of renovating because the buildings are in deteriorated condition." Across the city on Jack Street, an Ontario company bought a pair of 24-unit buildings. In September, it issued eviction notices to tenants in one of the buildings to be out by Nov. 30.That deadline is next week. Although most tenants have gone elsewhere, at least one woman remains. Dave Cormier is her son.He said she has been in the building for 10 years. He said finding a two-bedroom unit for her for the $750 per month she currently pays has been difficult with vacancy rates falling and rents increasing all over Saint John."It's almost impossible unless you've got $1,400, or $1,600 or $2,000 [for rent]," he said."Even $1,100 for a two-bedroom apartment is a lot of money for low-income [people]."Cormier has been speaking with the province about public housing and is hopeful something is happening, but with the eviction deadline just a week away and COVID-19 suddenly spiking in the community, it has been a stressful experience."It's scary. You know, COVID-19 is not making this any easier at all. It might be a little bit easier if that wasn't going on, but it is. And because of that, things are difficult."Last week, a surge in COVID-19 infections across southern New Brunswick caused the province to downgrade communities from Sackville to St. Stephen, including Moncton and Saint John, from the yellow phase to the orange phase of pandemic recovery. That requires the public to limit contacts with people outside of their household bubble.Premier Blaine Higgs was asked Friday if there are any additional protections for tenants in orange-phase areas who are being put out of their buildings. His answer was no."No, not at all," said Higgs. "Not at this time."That causes worry for tenants like Cripps. Her landlord owns multiple buildings and she said the letter carrier who delivered her eviction notice told her he had several others to hand out.A spokesperson for National Bank said it was not involved in other evictions and has already contacted Cripps about allowing her family to stay where it is."Other cases were with other lenders," said Jean-Francois Cadieux. "Our legal external counsel has contacted the tenants. He presented them solutions and informed them that we will not be asking that they vacate their apartment."'Kids can't sleep in a car'But Cripps said the bank's solution involves her making an offer to buy the building. She said she doesn't have a down payment and doubts she could afford the building.She does not want to uproot her children before Christmas but is worried about what comes after, especially if large numbers of other evicted renters are suddenly in the market at the same time looking for a place to live."There are good tenants that are being penalized and now they're being put out," she said."All these families now need to find a home. We're all going to be fighting for an apartment. There are going to be people who are probably going to end up homeless. What are parents going to do? Kids can't sleep in a car."
MANILA, Philippines — U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration provided precision-guided missiles and other weapons to help the Philippines battle Islamic State group-aligned militants and renewed a pledge to defend its treaty ally if it comes under attack in the disputed South China Sea.National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien represented Trump in Monday’s ceremony at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila, where he announced the delivery of the missiles and bombs to the Philippine military. Trump pledged to provide the $18 million worth of missiles in a phone conversation with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in April, Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said.O’Brien expressed condolences to the Philippines after back-to-back typhoons left a trail of death and devastation in the country and outlined U.S. help to the country to fight the coronavirus pandemic.The U.S. assistance projects normalcy in Washington’s foreign relations as Trump works to challenge the results of the Nov. 3 presidential election, claiming he was a victim of fraud. Duterte had asked Filipino Americans to vote for Trump but congratulated Joe Biden, through his spokesperson, for winning the election.Asked in an online news briefing if any of the officials he met in Vietnam and the Philippines voiced concern about the post-election situation in the U.S., O’Brien said nobody did. “There will be a transition if the courts don’t rule in President Trump’s favour,” he said.O’Brien represented Trump in a recent online summit between the U.S. and leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and an expanded East Asia summit of heads of state attended by China and Russia that was also held by video and hosted by Vietnam.In his remarks at the turnover of the U.S. missiles in Manila, O’Brien cited the Trump administration’s role in the defeat of the Islamic State group in the Middle East and last year’s killing of its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in Syria, and renewed its commitment to help defeat IS-linked militants in the southern Philippines.“President Trump is standing with President Duterte as we combat ISIS here in Southeast Asia,” O’Brien said. “This transfer underscores our strong and enduring commitment to our critical alliance.”He expressed hope for the continuance of a key security agreement that allows American forces to train in large-scale combat exercises in the Philippines. Duterte moved to abrogate the Visiting Forces Agreement with the U.S. early this year but later delayed the effectivity of his decision to next year, a move welcomed by O’Brien.He said the U.S. stands with the Philippines in its effort to protect its sovereign rights in the South China Sea. The Philippines announced last month that it would resume oil and gas explorations in or near Reed Bank, which lies off the country’s western coast and is also claimed by China.“They belong to the Philippine people. They don’t belong to some other country that just because they may be bigger than the Philippines they can come take away and convert the resources of the Philippine people. That’s just wrong,” O’Brien said.He repeated U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s statement early this year that “any armed attack on Philippine forces aircraft or public vessels in the South China Sea will trigger our mutual defence obligations.” The allies have a 69-year-old mutual defence treaty.In July, Pompeo escalated the Trump administration’s attacks against China by declaring that Washington regards virtually all Chinese maritime claims in the disputed waterway as illegitimate. China reacted angrily by accusing the U.S. of sowing discord between Beijing and neighbouring Asian states.Jim Gomez, The Associated Press
Three more houses on May Street in north-end Halifax may soon be torn down.In 2016, 17 properties were demolished on Fern Lane, May, McCully and Robie streets to make way for an expansion of the Colonial Honda car dealership. That sparked a "Homes not Hondas" protest group.Dynamic Properties owns 5792, 5796 and 5800 May Street, which are three attached buildings. The director for the company is Rob Steele, who is also the CEO of the Steele Auto Group, which includes Colonial Honda.Initially Halifax Regional Municipality officials said there was an application for a demolition permit of one of the properties. They have since confirmed that the application is to tear down all three addresses, although the permit has not yet been issued. 'We could use that housing'The move dismayed Jim Graham, the executive director of the Affordable Housing Association of Nova Scotia."Could we use that housing? Yeah, we could use that housing," said Graham. "It is discouraging."Graham said landlords are telling him that they are getting 12 calls for even bed-sitting units."The vacancy rate [for affordable housing] is not one per cent, it's zero," said Graham.Lisa Roberts, the MLA who represents the May Street area, agreed that affordable housing units are not being replaced at the same rate they are disappearing."We don't need another lot in Halifax-Needham," said Roberts, "We have a whole lot of them."A spokesperson for Colonial Honda said the company has purchased a two-storey, three-unit residential condominium building on May Street."The condo units involved were housed in a single building on the south side of May Street, adjacent to the Colonial Honda parking lot," the spokesperson said."Colonial plans to take down the building and expand the parking lot, which fronts on the Robie Street commercial corridor. This part of Robie is home to several auto dealership, service and repair centres."City can't stop demolitionsAn HRM planner wrote a report in 2016 that said council "does not have the ability to prohibit demolition."HRM councillors are meeting Tuesday to discuss which affordable housing projects are eligible for the $8.7 million from Ottawa under the Rapid Housing Initiative.Lindell Smith, the councillor for the area, said the zoning is also a factor."A lot of the residential properties and areas in the north end are actually zoned commercial," said Smith. "So I wish there were ways to protect it, but they own it and unfortunately they're deciding to take houses and put them into parking lots." MORE TOP STORIES
Lawyers for two former IWK Health Centre executives are still trying to get the most appropriate witnesses on the stand as part of an effort to obtain documents from the office of Nova Scotia's auditor general.Defence counsel for Stephen D'Arcy and Tracy Kitch questioned witnesses in Nova Scotia provincial court on Thursday and Friday but ended those days with little to show for their efforts.On Thursday, acting auditor general Terry Spicer was on the stand for several hours when it became apparent he couldn't answer any detailed questions related to the performance audit of the children's hospital his office completed in 2018. That's because Spicer, who was deputy auditor general at the time, recused himself from the work because his wife worked at the health centre.The revelation and lack of progress that day prompted Judge Elizabeth Buckle to question why Spicer was put forward as a witness in the first place. None of the lawyers were aware he'd recused himself from the work until Thursday.On Friday, Michael Pickup, the province's former auditor general, appeared for two hours via video link from British Columbia, where he now works as that province's auditor general.Although Jacqueline King, Kitch's lawyer, spent the time mainly cross-examining Pickup about the process of how and when audits are performed, how the topics are selected and record keeping for audit work, Pickup, like Spicer, had little direct involvement with the performance audit work.King and Christie Hunter, D'Arcy's lawyer, are hoping to get one or two people who were active in conducting the audit on the stand for upcoming dates in December.Kitch, the former CEO of the children's hospital, is facing charges of fraud over $5,000 and breach of trust. D'Arcy, the hospital's former chief financial officer, is charged with breach of trust, unauthorized use of a computer and mischief to data.Both resigned from their posts in 2017 following an audit by Grant Thornton that showed Kitch billed about $47,000 in personal expenses to corporate accounts. She eventually repaid the money.Meanwhile, D'Arcy repaid $17,000 in expenses to the hospital just before resigning.Reporting by CBC first raised questions about Kitch's expenses and D'Arcy's involvement. At the time, both attributed the findings to unintended errors.Documents being soughtThe hospital's board then ordered the audit by Grant Thornton. The board chair at the time, Karen Hutt, then called in the auditor general and Halifax Regional Police.The application for access to records from the auditor general was made in June. It's not clear from court testimony so far what information defence lawyers are seeking, although a May 2020 letter from Crown attorney Peter Dostal to the auditor general provides possible insight."I recently received a request from defence counsel for Mr. D'Arcy to inquire for communications and meeting notes in your possession or control that relate to contact between your office and Karen Hutt and/or employees within the IWK concerning the review of the IWK CEO expenses of Tracy Kitch between 2014 and 2017 and any related involvement of Stephen D'Arcy," reads a portion of the letter, which was included as part of an affidavit by Spicer filed in court on Thursday.Part of what's at issue is whether the defence request trumps the privacy practices the office of the auditor general applies to its work. The office is not subject to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.Trial date could be in jeopardyWith Pickup scheduled to return to the stand on Dec. 3, and the defence still trying to secure other witnesses, there are also questions about whether the effort will affect the start of Kitch's trial.The trial is scheduled to begin on Jan. 4.But with only two dates remaining before then, concerns were voiced Friday that if Buckle rules in favour of disclosing documents to the defence, there might not be enough time for lawyers to get those documents and prepare before the start of the trial.The issue would be moot, however, if Buckle rules against the defence.D'Arcy's trial is scheduled to begin next June.MORE TOP STORIES