(NASA/JPL-Caltech - image credit) When the Perseverance rover successfully landed on Mars last month, it arrived with a B.C.-made tool in its figurative tool belt. The six-wheeled, plutonium-powered U.S. rover landed on the red planet on Feb. 18, with a mandate to drill down and collect tiny geological specimens that will be returned to NASA in about 2031. That drilling will be done using a drill bit tip designed and manufactured by a company based in Langford, B.C. "It has great wear and fraction resistance so it is perfect for a Mars application," said Ron Sivorat, business director for Kennametal Inc., during an interview on CBC's All Points West. The drill bit tip is made from K92-grade tungsten carbide blanks, which Sivorat said are one of the toughest grades used for drilling here on earth and he is confident it will be good enough for Mars. According to Sivorat, the company has had a relationship with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory since 2014, when the space agency first began ordering and testing Kennametal Inc. drill bit tips. In 2018, the company learned NASA wanted to work with it to build a bit for Perseverance. Sivorat said staff built the drill bit to NASA's specifications and then sent it to the agency who finessed it somewhat for its Mars mission. When Perseverance landed safely on the fourth planet from the sun, it was an exciting moment for Kennametal Inc. employees, many of whom watched the landing online and are continuing to check on Perservance's daily progress updates. "We know that we are going to be part of, in one way or another, an historical event that will be remembered for many years to come," said Sivorat. Sivorat said he expects the drill bit built in B.C. to start penetrating the surface of Mars in the next couple of weeks. And B.C. is not the only Canadian province with a connection to Perseverance. Canadian Photonic Labs, based in Minnedosa, Man., manufactured a high-speed and highly-durable camera that played an instrumental role in landing the rover. The Manitoba company's relationship with NASA dates back roughly 15 years, he said — but much of the work that's happened in that time has been cloaked in secrecy.
As COVID-19 vaccine supplies ramp up across the country, most provinces and territories have released details of who can expect to receive a shot in the coming weeks. Here's a list of their plans to date: Newfoundland and Labrador The province says it is in Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout. Health-care workers on the front lines of the pandemic, staff at long-term care homes, people of "advanced age" and adults in remote or isolated Indigenous communities have priority. Chief medical health officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald has said Phase 2 will begin in April if vaccine supply remains steady. The second phase prioritizes adults over 60 years old, beginning with those over 80, as well as Indigenous adults, first responders, rotational workers and adults in marginalized populations, such as those experiencing homelessness. Adults between 16 and 59 years old will be vaccinated in the third phase of the rollout, and Fitzgerald has said she expects that to begin this summer. --- Nova Scotia Health officials began expanding access to COVID-19 vaccines on Feb. 22, opening community clinics for people aged 80 years and older. Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health, has said the province's plan is to open another 10 clinics in March for 48,000 people who will be mailed a letter informing them how to book an appointment. Strang said the vaccination program will then expand to the next age group in descending order until everyone in the province is offered the chance to be immunized. The age groups will proceed in five-year blocks. Future community clinics are to be held March 8 in Halifax, New Minas, Sydney and Truro; March 15 in Antigonish, Halifax and Yarmouth; and March 22 in Amherst, Bridgewater and Dartmouth. The province began its vaccination campaign with residents of long-term care homes, those who work directly with patients, those who are 80 and older, and those who are at risk for other reasons including First Nations and African Nova Scotian communities. Nova Scotia plans to have vaccine available to at least 75 per cent of the population by the end of September 2021. --- Prince Edward Island The province says the first phase of its vaccination drive, currently slated to last until the end of March, targets residents and staff of long-term and community care, as well as health-care workers with direct patient contact at higher risk of COVID-19 exposure. Those 80 and older, adults in Indigenous communities, and truck drivers and other rotational workers are also included. The next phase, which is scheduled to begin in April, will target those above 70 and essential workers. The province intends to make the vaccine available to everyone in late summer and fall. --- New Brunswick The province is also focusing on vaccinating those living in long-term care homes, health-care workers with direct patient contact, adults in First Nations communities and older New Brunswickers in the first phase, which lasts until at least March. The next phase is scheduled to begin in the spring and includes residents and staff of communal settings, other health-care workers including pharmacists, first responders and critical infrastructure employees. The government website says once the vaccine supply is continuous and in large enough quantities, the entire population will be offered the shots. --- Quebec Quebec started vaccinating older seniors on Monday, after a first phase that focused largely on health-care workers, remote communities and long-term care. In Montreal, mass vaccine sites including the Olympic Stadium opened their doors to the public as the province began inoculating seniors who live in the hard-hit city. The government announced last week it would begin booking appointments for those aged 85 and up across the province, but that age limit has since dropped to 70 in some regions, including Montreal. The province says the vaccination of children and pregnant women will be determined based on future studies of vaccine safety and efficacy in those populations. --- Ontario The province began vaccinating people with the highest priority, including those in long-term care, high-risk retirement home residents, certain classes of health-care workers and people who live in congregate care settings. Several regions in Ontario moved ahead Monday with their plans to vaccinate the general public, while others used their own systems to allow residents aged 80 and older to schedule appointments. Toronto also began vaccinating members of its police force Monday after the province identified front-line officers as a priority group. Constables and sergeants who respond to emergency calls where medical assistance may be required are now included in the ongoing first phase of Ontario's vaccine rollout, a spokeswoman for the force said. A day earlier, Toronto said the province expanded the first phase of its vaccination drive to include residents experiencing homelessness. The provincial government has said it aims to begin vaccinating Ontarians aged 80 and older starting the week of March 15, the same day it plans to launch its vaccine booking system, which will offer a service desk and online portal. It has said the vaccine rollout will look different in each of its 34 public health units. When asked about the lack of provincewide cohesion, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that public health units know their regions best and that's why they have been given responsibility to set the pace locally. --- Manitoba Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people in the general population. Appointments are now available for most people aged 94 and up, or 74 and up for First Nations people. Until now, vaccines have been directed to certain groups such as health-care workers and people in personal care homes. Health officials plan to reduce the age minimum, bit by bit, over the coming months. Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province's vaccine task force, has said inoculations could be open to all adults in the province by August if supplies are steady. --- Saskatchewan The province is still in the first phase of its vaccination rollout, which reserves doses for long-term care residents and staff, health-care workers at elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure, seniors over the age of 70 and anyone 50 or older living in a remote area. In all, nearly 400,000 doses are required to finish this stage. The next phase will be focused on vaccinating the general population by age. It hopes to begin its mass vaccination campaign by April, but there if there isn’t enough supply that could be pushed back to June. Saskatchewan will begin immunizing the general population in 10-year increments, starting with those 60 to 69. Also included in this age group will be people living in emergency shelters, individuals with intellectual disabilities in care homes and people who are medically vulnerable. Police, corrections staff and teachers are among the front-line workers not prioritized for early access to shots. The government says supply is scarce. --- Alberta Alberta is now offering vaccines to anyone born in 1946 or earlier, a group representing some 230,000 people. Appointments are being offered through an online portal and the 811 Health Link phone line. Shots are also being offered to this cohort at more than 100 pharmacies in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton starting in early March and the government has said there are also plans to include doctors’ offices. Health Minister Tyler Shandro has said all eligible seniors should have their first shots by the end of March. But he said Monday that the province will not give Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over the age of 65 after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization expressed concerned there is limited data on how well it will work in older populations. The first phase of the vaccine rollout also included anyone over 65 who lives in a First Nations or Metis community, various front-line health care workers, paramedics and emergency medical responders. Phase 2 of the rollout, to begin in April, is to start with those 65 and up, Indigenous people older than 50 and staff and residents of licensed supportive living seniors’ facilities not previously included. --- British Columbia British Columbia will extend the time between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to four months so all adults could get their initial shot by the end of July. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says evidence from the province and around the world shows protection of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The province launched the second phase of its immunization campaign Monday and health authorities will begin contacting residents and staff of independent living centres, those living in seniors' supportive housing as well as homecare support clients and staff. Seniors aged 90 and up can call to make their appointment starting next Monday, followed a week later by those aged 85 and over, and a week after that by those 80 and up. Henry also says first responders and essential workers may be eligible to get vaccinated starting in April as the province also decides on a strategy for the newly authorized AstraZeneca vaccine. --- Nunavut The territory says it expects enough vaccines for 75 per cent of its population over the age of 18. After a COVID-19 vaccine is administered, patients will be tracked to ensure they are properly notified to receive their second dose. Nunavut's priority populations are being vaccinated first. They include residents of shelters, people ages 60 years and up, staff and inmates and correctional facilities, first responders and front-line health-care staff. --- Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories its priority groups — such as people over 60, front-line health workers and those living in remote communities — are being vaccinated The territory says it expects to vaccine the rest of its adult population starting this month. --- Yukon Yukon says it will receive enough vaccine to immunize 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March. Priority for vaccinations has been given to residents and staff in long-term care homes, group homes and shelters, as well as health-care workers and personal support workers. People over the age of 80 who are not living in long-term care, and those living in rural and remote communities, including Indigenous Peoples, are also on the priority list for shots. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Tuesday: ENGLAND Manchester City looks to make it 21 straight wins in all competitions by beating Wolverhampton to move 15 points clear in the Premier League. Wolves has caused City issues recently, beating Pep Guardiola's side home and away last season, but does not have star striker Raul Jimenez this time round as he recovers from a fractured skull. “The history against them shows us how tough it is and we know it perfectly," Guardiola said. “We know exactly the type of game we have to play — to be so intense but, at the same time, calm." City is in the middle of a hectic period featuring games every three or four days so will rotate again, with Raheem Sterling, Joao Cancelo and Bernardo Silva among those likely to be recalled. Manchester United is City's nearest challenger, 12 points back, and plays Crystal Palace on Wednesday. GERMANY Borussia Mönchengladbach has lost all three games since the club announced that coach Marco Rose will be joining Borussia Dortmund next season. The teams meet in the German Cup quarterfinals on Tuesday, when Rose will hope to end the negative spiral against his future employers. Gladbach’s troubles started before Rose’s departure was made known. It hasn’t won its last five Bundesliga games. While Gladbach has been on a slump, Dortmund’s fortunes are looking up after three wins in a row including a 4-0 rout of Schalke in the derby and a 3-2 win at Sevilla in the Champions League. Coach Edin Terzic seems to be enjoying his role now the pressure has been taken off with Rose’s arrival at the end of the season. Both teams know the German Cup is a realistic chance of a trophy with reigning champion Bayern Munich already knocked out of the competition. ITALY Injury-hit Juventus needs a win against lowly Spezia to boost its faltering title defence. The nine-time defending champion drew at Hellas Verona 1-1 last weekend to leave it 10 points behind Serie A leader Inter Milan, albeit having played a match less. Juventus will still be without Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini, Juan Cuadrado, Arthur and Paulo Dybala, who are all injured. Forward Álvaro Morata could recover enough for a place on the bench. Also, Lazio could move level with fourth-place Atalanta if it wins at home to relegation-threatened Torino. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
A group of opponents of the Trans Mountain expansion project planned to be at the Kamloops Law Courts on Monday (March 1) to support those who were arrested last fall in the city during demonstrations agains the work. Miranda Dick, spokesperson for the We, the Secwépemc Unity Camp to Stop the Trans Mountain Pipeline, said eight protesters were attending court on Monday following their arrests on Oct. 15 and 17, 2020. Dick said the court has not made it clear to them if the charges against them are civil or criminal in nature. Dick said court has refused to accept documents from hereditary Secwépemc Chief Henry Sawses that indicate the courts have a lack of jurisdiction on Secwépemc territory. Dick said the Secwépemc Nation members and their allies are gathering to support those arrested as they “assert their rights and take on the systemic and environmental racism inherent to the same courts that continue assert jurisdiction with no legal rights to do so.” The protesters set up an encampment near a Trans Mountain worksite off Mission Flats Road last fall. Intent on staying there permanently in a bid to stop the pipeline project, which is crossing the Thompson River at that location, the camp was dismantled by the protesters at the onset of winter, with a vow to return in the spring. Work by Trans Mountain crews at that site to pull the new pipeline underneath the river was halted shortly afterwards when the company ordered a project-wide work stoppage to review its safety practices after an on-the-job death in Edmonton and serious injury to a person in Burnaby. There have also been more than 90 cases of COVID-19 workers along the Edmonton-to-Burnaby route. Construction was scheduled to resume in early February, though some sites in Kamloops remain quiet. The protesters argue the pipeline twinning project is being done on unceded Secwépemc territory. They have also cited safety concerns for the river and salmon populations within it, along with concerns about the safety of the ongoing project. The protesters have said they represent the will of the Secwépemc people and contend First Nations band councils that do support the pipeline project have been bought off to do so. The Tk’emlups te Secwépemc First Nation has a $3-million mutual benefits agreement with Trans Mountain. On Oct. 15, 2020, five protesters were arrested following a demonstration at the Mission Flats worksite. Some were arrested at an entranceway to the beachside worksite after refusing to leave, while others were arrested after climbing on machinery on the south side of the road. Other protesters in the area that day told KTW April Thomas, Billie Pierre, Romilly Cavanaugh, Lorelei Dick and Chief Sawses were arrested. Four people were arrested on Oct. 17 at the gate to the project worksite near Kamloops Airport. All four are believed to be women with the We, the Secwépemc Unity Camp, including group spokesperson Miranda Dick. Michael Potestio, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kamloops This Week
WINNIPEG — Manitoba has released a report showing COVID-19 has disproportionately affected Indigenous, Black and other people of colour in the province. “This is systemic and it is seen in every jurisdiction,” Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer, said Monday. Roussin said the province’s race and ethnicity data show a similar pattern to information in other jurisdictions in Canada and around the world. He said it’s not about people in communities making bad choices. COVID-19 infections are largely linked to pre-existing inequities, including in housing and employment. “We know people in (Black, Indigenous and people of colour) communities are more likely to live in lower income neighbourhoods, live in overcrowded and multi-generational households,” Roussin said. “They are also more likely to have low-wage occupations.” The report compiled Manitoba infections data from May 1 to Dec. 31, 2020. Fifty-one per cent of people who tested positive for COVID-19 self-identified as Black, Indigenous or of colour, but 35 per cent of people in Manitoba belong to that group. The report said North American Indigenous people made up 17 per cent of infections, despite representing about 13 per cent of the overall population. Black and African people, accounting for four per cent of the population, made up eight per cent of positive tests. Filipino people also had significant infection rates — 12 per cent of cases, while representing seven per cent of the population. South Asian people, three per cent of the population, made up eight per cent of positive cases. The report noted that white people experienced less COVID-19 than would be expected based on population size. On Monday, Manitoba reported one more death and 35 new cases of the novel coronavirus. The province brought in significant restrictions last fall that shut down restaurants and limited group sizes after a surge of infections, hospitalizations and deaths. The number of new cases has significantly dropped in recent weeks. The five-day test positivity rate was at 3.9 per cent provincially and three per cent for Winnipeg. The provincial government has indicated that details on what public-health restrictions are to be further loosened are to be provided Tuesday. Roussin said it’s important to take a cautious approach. “We are going to gradually reopen and stay open.” Vaccines also became available for the general population in Manitoba last week based on age. Roussin said the rollout has expanded to include people born in 1930 and earlier and First Nations people born in 1950 and earlier. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021 Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press
PORT HAWKESBURY, N.S. — A lawyer representing the spouse of the man who murdered 22 people in Nova Scotia said Monday her client's right to a fair trial could be jeopardized if portions of a redacted document are unsealed. Lisa Banfield is among three people charged with unlawfully transferring ammunition to the gunman in the month before his rampage — but police have said she and the others had no prior knowledge of the gunman's actions. The document in question is a police application to obtain a search warrant for their investigation into the killings on April 18-19, 2020. Banfield's lawyer, Jessica Zita, told provincial court Judge Laurie Halfpenny MacQuarrie that a redacted portion of the document in question includes key details about the Crown's case against her client, the release of which would undermine her right to a fair trial. "I'm not disputing court openness principals," Zita told the court in Port Hawkesbury, N.S. "The public does have a right to be informed, especially of an event ... that caused a seismic eruption to a small community so big it sent tremors nationwide ... What I am asking, your honour, is that you manage that right with Ms. Banfield's trial fairness rights." Zita went on to say the release of the Crown's case "could jeopardize the integrity" of the justice system. "The strength of that argument lies in the fact that Ms. Banfield is not just simply an accused before this court. She's also a victim. Her situation is different from that of her co-accused." Previously released court documents have revealed statements from Banfield saying she was attacked by her longtime partner on the night the shooting began. She also told police he had been abusive toward her in the past, though she didn't report any of the incidents. Lawyer David Coles, who represents a consortium of media outlets, said Banfield's status as a victim was irrelevant to the case at hand. As well, he argued the release of the disputed information would not harm Banfield's right to a fair trial because the case will be heard by a judge alone and not a jury. "How can my friends possibly say there is a serious risk that the judge will say, 'I don't have to pay attention to the evidence, I'll just read what's in the Globe and Mail or what's broadcast on the CBC and I'll let that be my decision,'" Coles told the court. "That's not how it works." Zita also argued that another redacted section should remain off limits to the public because it is covered by solicitor-client privilege, which refers to the fact that communications between a lawyer and their client must remain confidential. Zita confirmed in court there was a solicitor-client relationship between Banfield and Kevin Von Bargen, a Toronto-based lawyer who gave a statement to police saying he had been friends with the killer. On Feb. 19, the Crown released a series of warrant applications, know as Information to Obtain documents or ITOs, that included previously redacted information about Von Bargen. In the documents, Von Bargen said he spoke with Gabriel Wortman after the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, saying his friend was convinced the global economy was about to implode. As well, Von Bargen noted that his friend had withdrawn about $475,000 in cash a month before the rampage. In court, Halfpenny MacQuarrie said she would release her decision on April 23 in Port Hawkesbury. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021. — By Michael MacDonald in Halifax The Canadian Press
Alma is a museum curator in Berlin. Tom, a robot who speaks German with a slight English accent. This is the premise of Maria Schrader's romantic comedy 'I'm Your Man', which opened this year's online Berlin Film Festival on Monday.
VANCOUVER — A new online tool allows Metro Vancouver residents to track the viral load of COVID-19 found in untreated wastewater at each of the region’s five wastewater treatment plants. Metro Vancouver, the regional district that delivers water, waste treatment and other services to the area's local governments, says the tool is now active on its website. A statement from Metro Vancouver says it worked with the public health laboratory of the BC Centre for Disease Control and the University of British Columbia to sample and test wastewater to track the presence and trends of the COVID-19 virus. Residents can click on a specific wastewater treatment plant on a map to see a snapshot of the COVID-19 virus trend for that area. Metro Vancouver says tracking the viral load can help health authorities evaluate how well COVID-19 containment measures are working. But they say it can't pinpoint the number of people who are infected or contagious. The chart for each wastewater treatment plant shows the amount of COVID-19 virus present per litre of wastewater before the liquid is treated. Dr. Natalie Prystajecky, program head of the public health lab at the BC Centre for Disease Control, says studying the virus in wastewater means researchers can "look at an entire population, rather than an individual person.” “Studies have demonstrated that about 50 per cent of COVID-19 cases have the virus in their feces,” she says. The virus that causes COVID-19 is non-infectious in feces and wastewater, the statement says. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021. The Canadian Press
Greece’s government Monday said it won't intervene to grant a prison-transfer demand by a convicted killer in a far-left extremist group who has been on hunger strike for more than seven weeks, triggering public protests as well as arson attacks. Doctors treating Dimitris Koufodinas in intensive care at a hospital in central Greece said the 63-year-old suffered a “serious deterioration” at the weekend, several days after also refusing water. Koufodinas was the chief hit man in the now-defunct November 17 group and is serving 11 life sentences for the murders of prominent Greek businessmen, diplomats and military officials from the embassies of Turkey, Britain, and the United States, and others. His victims include conservative lawmaker Pavlos Bakoyannis, brother-in-law of the current Greek prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis. Koufodinas’ lawyers argue that his transfer last year from a low-security prison in Athens to a high-security facility in central Greece occurred in violation of incarceration rules. They are seeking his transfer back to the prison where he had served most of his sentence so far. The centre-right government denies it violated transfer regulations. “Mr. Koufodinas is demanding privileged treatment outside legal norms,” government spokeswoman Aristotelia Peloni told reporters in an online briefing. “The state does not negotiate with convicts and will not relinquish its sovereign right to how to detain them. (He) has the ability to end the hunger strike and exercise the legal options at his disposal.” About 2,500 people held a peaceful protest in support of Koufodinas through central Athens late Monday. About as many demonstrators held a similar peaceful march through the northern port city of Thessaloniki. The leftwing Initiative for Prisoners' Rights group accused the government of engaging in “a ritual execution of a prisoner ... simply for reasons of family revenge and to impose the dogma or law and order.” The rights group warned that Koufodinas' life is “hanging from a thread” because of his hunger strike and refusal to take liquids. Koufodinas has staged another three hunger strikes in recent years, which he concluded after getting what he was seeking — including, in 2015, a demand not to be sent to the prison he is now asking to be transferred to. November 17, which mixed Marxism with nationalism, killed 23 people between 1975 and 2000. It was eradicated following a string of arrests in 2002 and subsequent convictions. The Associated Press
Kingston Arts Council (KAC) is asking the Kingston community to support artists during this long pandemic, and beyond. The organization says the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the global community, and its impact on our arts sector has been extensive and heartbreaking. Over the last year, Kingston’s artists – despite their own struggles, anxieties and hardships – have stepped up to offer their neighbours virtual dance parties and porch-side plays, art kits delivered to doorsteps, and plexiglassed performances, online concerts and Instagram poetry, KAC said in a press release on Monday, Mar. 1, 2021. KAC says these offerings of expression, reflection, connection, and conversation have uplifted spirits and helped to heal our continually breaking hearts. “As always, our artists have been here for us,” KAC said in the release. “And now, Kingston, we’re looking to you to be here for our artists. They need your support.” Artists have always been essential for our community’s well-being, and they will be essential for our recovery, the organization said. ASK your artist friends and neighbours how they are doing and how you can help. Get to know Kingston’s amazing creative community. ENGAGE with Kingston’s artists by searching #ygkarts on social media. Follow, share, subscribe, comment, and show them some love! BUY local art if you have the means to do so. Attend virtual performances and film screenings, purchase books by Kingston authors and poets, take online classes and workshops, buy and enjoy local music, and give Kingston-made art and crafts as gifts. (Join KAC Executive Director Kirsi in her commitment to only purchase or make local art as gifts in 2021, and use the hashtag #onlyygkarts to share what you give and receive!) VISIT our local galleries and arts retailers, when it is safe to do so. Check out the Tett Centre for Creativity and Learning’s comprehensive guide of Kingston’s art galleries and other places to enjoy and purchase the incredible work of our local artists: https://www.tettcentre.org/blog/showcasing-your-artwork-locally LEARN about how artists are faring in the pandemic and envisioning the future of the arts by taking a look at these recent survey results and viewing the insightful and inspiring artist presentations from our December 4 Essential Arts event. READ about the Basic Income movement to learn how a Basic Income program would help artists and other precarious workers, and consider signing the petition in support of Bill C-273, Canada’s first Basic Income bill. EMAIL Kingston’s MP Mark Gerretsen and MPP Ian Arthur to voice your concerns, support, and ideas for how our governments can better support artists. REACH OUT to the Kingston Arts Council to learn more about how you can help. “Artists are relentless, necessary, cooperative, awesome, important, undervalued, underpaid, the future, inspiring, the force, indomitable, together, transformative, cute, resourceful, talented, determined, scrappy, amazing, resilient, vital, brave, full of surprises and ESSENTIAL… …and artists need your support,” said KAC. Jessica Foley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, kingstonist.com
The Village of Big Valley council heard a report from their new chief administrative officer (CAO) that repairs to the municipal water tower will likely be in the $270,000 range. The report was made at the Feb. 24 regular meeting of council, held one day earlier than normal. The meeting was streamed via Zoom and Coun. Art Tizzard was absent from the meeting. CAO Tracy Mindus noted a contractor has provided an estimate of $270,000 to repair the cracked water tower, but instead of installing a bladder they will use carbon fibre to seal it. This would have a life expectancy of 20 to 50 years. The CAO noted several provincial government grants may be available for this work, including one that may cover up to 75 per cent of the cost. Municipal Sustainability Initiative money may also be available. Mindus said the village continues to receive information from the contractor and it appears the work can be done no earlier than spring. Councillors accepted the report for information. Garbage concerns Mindus read a letter sent from the Big Valley Historical Society, requesting the society no longer be charged for garbage pick-up because it appears their garbage isn’t being picked up. The letter noted the McAlister site hasn't had garbage pick-up in 10 to 12 months and the tool museum hasn’t had garbage pick-up at all in the roughly four years it’s been there. The society requested the village no longer bill them for the service and the volunteers would handle garbage pick-up themselves. CAO Mindus noted garbage pick-up is based on the number of users in the village, and if one or more users opt out, the rates will likely increase for everyone else. Coun. Harry Nibourg stated the garbage pick-up fee is about $8 a month and waiving it would set a precedent. Nibourg also noted he would recuse himself from a vote on this issue as it affects his own property. Mayor German stated the item would be tabled until March, as Tizzard’s absence and Nibourg’s recusal meant a vote could not be held. Invoice concerns Councillors read a letter from the Village of Donalda regarding their concerns about the County of Stettler's recent invoice for the Regional Emergency Management Agency. It was stated in the letter Donalda is concerned about the dollar amount, $7,944.32, which included a substantial increase and the village was requesting more information about why the invoice was so large. Mayor German noted he saw nothing wrong with the request and felt taxpayers have a right to know where their money is going. Coun. Nibourg stated the fee may seem high, but if the village decides to, for example, handle emergency services itself, costs may be much higher. Councillors passed a motion for CAO Mindus to contact the County of Stettler and get a breakdown of where the emergency management funds are going. Village election Councillors decided they will hold an advance poll for the village election next fall, and also advertise the position of returning officer after reading a report from the CAO. Mindus noted the municipal election will be held Mon. Oct. 18 and nominations close on Mon. Sept. 20. She noted Big Valley is small enough that it’s not mandatory to hold an advance poll but pointed out it would be convenient for people who work and aren’t able to vote on election day. S he suggested two Saturdays, Oct. 9 or 16, for the advance poll. She also noted advance polls can’t be held within 24 hours of the regular election day. Councillors passed a motion naming Oct. 9 the advance poll in Big Valley, appointing Mindus as returning officer and also authorizing the CAO to advertise for a deputy returning officer. Get the MOST The CAO reported Big Valley will receive $40,339 in Municipal Operating Support Transfer (MOST) funding from the provincial government, intended to help with COVID-19 expenses and lost revenue. She estimated the village’s expenses at about $10,000, and asked councillors what they would like to do with the rest. She noted other communities have granted the funds to non-profits who have losses related to the pandemic. Mindus also noted the province has given a March 31 deadline to disperse the funds. Councillors instructed Mindus to reach out to non-profits and similar groups and offer the money while asking for an accounting of their losses due to the pandemic. The CAO will report back at the March regular council meeting. Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review
Here’s a collection curated by The Associated Press’ entertainment journalists of what’s arriving on TV, streaming services and music platforms this week. MOVIES — Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall are back in Queens as Prince Akeem and Semmi in “Coming 2 America,” the sequel to the 1988 film, which is now coming straight to your living room Friday on Amazon Prime Video. Set to becoming the King of Zamunda, Murphy’s character returns to the U.S. to find a son he’s never met. Directed by Craig Brewer (“Hustle & Flow”) and co-written by Kenya Barris (“black-ish”), “Coming 2 America” adds a host of new talent, including Jermaine Fowler as said son, Leslie Jones as the mother, Tracy Morgan and “If Beale Street Could Talk’s” KiKi Layne. James Earl Jones, Shari Headley and John Amos also reprise their roles from the original. Unsurprisingly, the film was originally going to be a big theatrical release. — A more family friendly streaming option this week is the Walt Disney Co.’s computer animated “Raya and the Last Dragon,” featuring the voices of “Star Wars’” Kelly Marie Tran as Raya and Awkwafina as a dragon. The fantasy adventure finds a lone warrior, Raya, on a mission to track down a dragon (yes, it’s the last one) who has the powers to stop an evil invader and save humanity. Co-written by “Crazy Rich Asians” screenwriter Adele Lim and directed by Don Hall (“Big Hero 6”) and Carlos Lopez Estrada (“Blindspotting"), “Raya” also features the voices of Gemma Chan, Daniel Dae Kim, Sandra Oh and Benedict Wong. The film will be available on Disney+ Friday with “Premier Access,” meaning it’ll cost $29.99 to rent. It’ll also be in theatres. — AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr MUSIC — Def Jam is releasing not one but two soundtracks to accompany the new film “Coming 2 America.” On Friday, the same day the film is out, Def Jam will drop “Coming 2 America Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” – which features the new track “I’m a King” by Bobby Sessions and Megan Thee Stallion and other songs – as well as “Rhythms of Zamunda,” an album inspired by Western, Eastern and South African soundscapes. The latter album includes songs by African artists including Nasty C, Tiwa Savage, Tekno, DJ Arafat and more. — Colombian singer Camilo won his first Latin Grammy in November for the global hit “Tutu” and he’s competing for his first Grammy at the March 14 show with his debut album, “Por Primera Vez.” Just before that, the rising star will release his sophomore album, “Mis Manos,” on Friday. The new record features the hit “Vida De Rico,” which peaked at No. 1 on Billboard’s Latin airplay chart, as well as the hits “Ropa Cara” and “Bebé.” — Judith Hill – a former backup vocalist for Michael Jackson who was one of the stars of the Oscar-winning documentary “20 Feet from Stardom” – will release a new album Friday. The big-voiced Grammy-winning singer self-produced “Baby, I’m Hollywood!” – which is a mix of soul music, piano ballads and funk sounds. Hill last released an album in 2018 and her 2015 debut, “Back In Time,” was co-produced by Prince. — AP Music Editor Mesfin Fekadu TELEVISION — ABC News’ “Soul of a Nation” promises to put “Black life in America front and centre.” The news magazine will explore themes including spirituality, activism in sports and, in the first installment airing 10 p.m. EST Tuesday, the demands for change that followed George Floyd’s death while in police custody. Sterling K. Brown of “This Is Us” will host the debut episode, with Sunny Hostin of “The View” moderating weekly discussions. A musical or spoken word performance will end each of the six announced episodes, with John Legend up first with a performance of “Never Break.” — “Stephen Colbert Presents Tooning Out the News” kicks off Thursday with a half-hour special on day one of the Paramount+ streaming service, the newly rebranded and expanded CBS All Access. Colbert is among the executive producers of the series, in which animated characters including anchor James Smartwood riff on the news and interview real-life guests. In a statement, Colbert promised that the show’s second season will feature “tasteful nudity, unapologetic slander and flat out lying,” as well as more incisive questions. — Here’s a real blast from the past: “It’s What’s Happening Baby,” a star-laden concert that aired in 1965, is coming to public TV stations starting Saturday (check local listings). Hosted by famed disc jockey Murray the K, the performers included Ray Charles, The Righteous Brothers, The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, The Miracles, Herman’s Hermits, The Temptations and Patti LaBelle & The Bluebelles. Newly restored from original video and audio master tapes and presented by producer TJ Lubinsky, the special includes recent interviews with Dionne Warwick, Little Anthony and others who took part. — AP Television Writer Lynn Elber ___ Catch up on AP’s entertainment coverage here: https://apnews.com/apf-entertainment. The Associated Press
The Rideau Waterway Land Trust (RWLT) has launched a fundraising campaign to purchase a large property on Opinicon Lake near Chaffey’s Lock. The 30-hectare (74-acre) piece of land in the heart of the Rideau Canal, Ontario’s only World Heritage Site, is also within the Frontenac Arch UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. The location provides critical habitat for many species-at-risk, the RWLT said in a release on Monday, Mar. 1, 2021. The Frontenac Arch also provides a “land bridge” that connects the boreal forest of the Canadian Shield to the forests of the Adirondack and Appalachian Mountains. The organization says this link helps to maintain genetic diversity in plant and animal life as our climate continues to undergo change. According to the release, the land abuts provincially significant wetlands, is near the Queen’s University Biological Station (QUBS), and has been used for scientific research and education. The current owners now wish to sell the land and its acquisition is an ideal project to help the Trust celebrate its 25th year of successful operation. Since it’s incorporation in 1996, the RWLT has been able to preserve 20 significant properties through ownership and conservation easement while expanding its area of interest to include all the communities within the Rideau Corridor from Kingston to Ottawa. If RWLT is successful in this fundraising campaign, they say the property will be added to the Land Trust’s collection. A map of the properties protected by the RWLT can been seen here, and includes the popular Rock Dunder hiking trail near Morton, Ontario. The property up for purchase was once owned by Don and Mary Warren. Don was one of the founders of the Rideau Waterway Land Trust, an educator and activist who led the community’s resistance to the plan to electrify the Rideau Canal’s locks in the 1960s, according to the release. The organization says Mary was an enthusiastic supporter and was instrumental in convincing Don to purchase this property in 1965. The opportunity to establish the Warren Nature Reserve is a fitting tribute to their foresight, RWLT said in the release. RWLT is seeking to raise $120,000 towards the $435,000 project cost by April 2021; all donations will be used to leverage matching government funding. The RWLT expects the government funding to cover 40 per cent of the land acquisition cost, providing they are able to raise the other 60 per cent. RWLT has a very short timeframe to raise these funds, and say any and all donations from local communities would be greatly appreciated. Anyone interested can learn more about this project at www.rwlt.org/warren. Donations can be made at www.rwlt.org/donate, noting “Warren Property” in the donation comments. All donations will receive a charitable receipt. Jessica Foley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, kingstonist.com
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has eased slightly more restrictions tied to COVID-19. Libraries can now open at 15 per cent capacity and gyms can now host indoors low-impact group activities, like Pilates and tai chi. Kenney had been expected to ease rules in other areas, such as retail capacity and hotels, but he says the COVID numbers have hit a plateau and they need more time to assess just to be safe.
Asymptomatic testing is set to begin in local schools in early March. The Directors of Education at the local public and Catholic school boards said the testing is voluntary, and where it will take place is still being determined. Following consultation with the Public Health Units in Chatham-Kent and Sarnia-Lambton, Education Director of the St. Clair Catholic District School Board, Deb Crawford, said GVT Lab and Imaging Services would be doing the testing. While Chatham and Sarnia’s sites are yet to be determined, March 5, 2021, will be the first day of testing. Crawford said the private company has dedicated two teams to test students and staff for seven weeks from March 5, 2021, to April 16, 2021, including conducting targeted testing on Friday evenings and Saturdays. According to the Education Director of the Lambton Kent District School Board, John Howitt, school communities will get all of the information about where the testing sites are and how to register for appointments once the asymptomatic testing plan is complete. “We’re facilitating the testing within our facilities, but we are at an arm’s length from it,” said Howitt. “There will be communication as well to public health on the results so that public health can follow up on any confirmed cases that do come out of the testing.” Public School Board Director John Howitt previously said the plan is to have tests complete on staff and students at three public schools each week. This could include testing on weekends and evenings, but Howitt stressed the testing is not mandatory. “The weekly target is for approximately two percent of the population who are attending face-to-face learning,” said Howitt. Parental consent forms must be signed before the student testing is done. “This is not a School Board initiative, although it’s happening with our students,” said Howitt. “It might happen outside of the school day, including on weekends or in the evening.” According to Dr. David Colby, the local schools have done a great job keeping students and staff safe. “At the beginning of the pandemic, everybody thought the driver for community infection would be school children, and that has turned out absolutely not to be the case,” said Dr. David Colby, Chatham-Kent’s Medical Officer of Health. “That’s not been the experience anywhere. Colby said there has been great success with the planning that has been done with School Boards to avoid transmission within schools. He added the schools are very organized to isolate cohorts if there are any school environment cases. “In almost all cases that have been positive in schools, it has been family contacts that have resulted in students being positive, not transmission in the school environment,” said Colby. The Province of Ontario announced expanded asymptomatic testing in early February to keep schools and child care settings safe. According to the Provincial Government, the tests will offer an additional layer of protection and help keep schools and child care centres safe by identifying cases that might otherwise have gone undetected; reducing transmission of COVID-19 from the community into schools and within schools, and reducing barriers and making it easier to get a test in your community. Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News
Local municipalities were among the 30 projects among a $1.39 million investment through the Municipal Asset Management Program (MAMP), delivered by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities on behalf of the federal government. The programs aim is to strengthen local infrastructure planning and decision-making by increasing local asset management capacity through investments in activities such as asset management training, technology and software enhancements and information sharing. This is part of the federal government's commitment to providing local communities with tools and support for evidence-based decision-making that will help them plan a healthier, safer and more prosperous future for everyone. “The COVID-19 health crisis has reinforced the importance of infrastructure that supports safe, sustainable and healthy communities. Everything from ensuring communities have potable water to internet access to park spaces requires good planning. The 30 projects announced today ensure Saskatchewan municipalities have the tools and technology necessary to make well-informed decisions for the long term. Canada's infrastructure plan is resulting in thousands of projects, creating jobs across the country and building stronger communities.” Jim CarrSpecial Representative for the Prairies on behalf of Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities said in a release. Municipalities receiving funding in the region included the RM of Moose Range which received $36,080 for an asset management plan, the District of Lakeland which received $50,000 for an asset management framework and system project and the RM of Porcupine which received $50,000 for an asset management roadmap and system project. “Municipalities of all sizes are Canada’s builders. They own nearly 60 percent of the public infrastructure that support Canada’s economy and quality of life. With strengthened asset management practices, they are making infrastructure investment decisions based on sound and reliable data. Supported by our strong federal-municipal partnership, FCM is delivering programs from coast to coast to coast that help municipalities in Saskatchewan do what they do best: deliver solutions that work.” Garth Frizzell, President, Federation of Canadian Municipalities said in a release. MAMP offers funding, training, and resources to help small and medium sized municipalities improve their asset management policies and approaches enabling them to make solid infrastructure investment decisions. During the COVID-19 pandemic, a new stream has been added to the over $33-billion Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program to help fund pandemic-resilient infrastructure. Existing program streams have also been adapted to include more eligible project categories. The COVID-19 Resilience Stream will help other orders of governments whose finances have been significantly impacted by the pandemic by increasing the federal cost share for public infrastructure projects in a variety of areas including disaster mitigation and adaptation projects and pandemic-resilient infrastructure. Since 2016, the federal government has invested $28 billion in over 18,000 infrastructure projects in communities with populations under 100,000. More than 6,100 kilometres of highways and roads, and 103 bridges have been built, repaired or upgraded in rural communities, and more than 3,134 projects are providing rural communities with access to cleaner, more sustainable sources of drinking water. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
MILAN — AC Milan forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic is out again with injury and could miss his side’s Europa League match against Manchester United. Ibrahimovic had to come off on Sunday in the second half of a 2-1 win at Roma after injuring a muscle in his left thigh. The Swedish forward will be re-evaluated in 10 days. That is the date of the trip to Old Trafford for the first leg of the Europa League round of 16 against his former club. The 39-year-old Ibrahimovic will definitely be out for the Serie A matches against Udinese and Hellas Verona. The Associated Press
(Michael Wilson/CBC - image credit) Toronto's speed enforcement cameras issued 22,180 tickets last December, the city says, marking the first month the cameras are operating in their second round of locations. According to a city news release, the area with the most tickets issued was on Stanley Avenue near Elizabeth Street in Etobicoke, where 2,888 tickets were issued. That same area also recorded a repeat offender with the most tickets, with 15 in total. Overall, there were 2,057 repeat offenders, according to the city. Meanwhile, the most expensive ticket was issued to the owner of a vehicle travelling at 99 km/h in a 50 km/h zone on McCowan Road north of Kenhatch Boulevard in Scarborough. A ticket for over $700 was issued for that incident. The average fine handed out in December was $376, the city says. Toronto's speed enforcement cameras were moved to new spots in stages. Before they were moved, data showed a decrease in repeat offenders and a smaller number of total tickets issued, the city says. "I am certain we will see this positive impact repeat itself wherever the speed cameras are placed," said Mayor John Tory in a statement.
(David Laughlin/CBC - image credit) A prison sentence of nearly six years has been handed down to a man after a shooting last year in the Halifax area that left another man seriously injured. Jeffrey Paul Mason, 38, was sentenced to five years and 11 months on gun-related charges, uttering threats and intent to cause bodily harm. He was originally charged with attempted murder after the incident in Terence Bay. Police were called after a disturbance outside a home on Lower Prospect Branch Road last April 9. Mason and the 46-year-old victim were involved in an altercation when Mason left the scene and returned with a gun. He shot the victim before fleeing in a vehicle. The victim was taken to hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries. Officers found Mason at a nearby home and arrested him. Police say the two men were known to each other. MORE TOP STORIESwho shot a man last April in the Halifax-area community of Terence Bay.
Your voice matters. Despite being more than a year away, the Municipality of Chatham-Kent is looking to get input from residents regarding voting in the next municipal election. The municipality has launched an 11 question online survey, which will focus on what voting methods residents would prefer to see in the fall of 2022. Options include: - Paper ballots at a polling station. - Internet voting. - Mail-in ballots or voting by phone. Residents are asked general information about age, the ward in which they live and whether they usually vote. Opinions are sought on the respondents’ concerns about the security of various voting methods and whether they feel they will be adequately informed about voting requirements and procedures. “We’re always looking at ways to make it easier for people to participate in municipal elections,” said Judy Smith, Director of Municipal Governance for Chatham-Kent. “We want to present options and see if the public is interested and comfortable with doing things differently or if they’re happy with the current methods.” Those taking the survey do not have to register to do so, and no personal identifying information needs to be provided. Comments will be accepted until March 23. Results of the survey will be presented to council for consideration. A total of 34,722 residents (45 percent of those eligible) voted in the 2018 election. According to Mayor Darrin Canniff, he is hoping to create a simple voting process. “We’re asking for the phone voting and various things like that to give easy access for people,” said Canniff. “We would love to see more people voting. It is one of our democratic rights that a lot of places in the world don’t have. It’s very important we get people voting because it has a lot of influence over a four-year period for someone’s life.” A link to the survey can be found at https://www.letstalkchatham-kent.ca/election-2022?tool=survey_tool#tool_tab. The 2022 election will be held Monday, October 24 of that year. Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News