Democratic strategist Lynda Tran talks about campaign strategies and what to expect in the days before and after the U.S. election.
Democratic strategist Lynda Tran talks about campaign strategies and what to expect in the days before and after the U.S. election.
South Korean authorities urged vigilance on Saturday as small coronavirus clusters emerged in a third wave, centred in the Seoul area, with infections near nine-month highs. The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) reported 583 new coronavirus infections, down from the 629 reported on Friday, which was the highest since the first wave peaked in February and early March. This wave of infections is different from the first two, which were driven by large-scale transmission, said KDCA official Lim Sook-young.
A 35-year-old Dawson Creek man was killed Saturday, November 28 when he was caught in an avalanche while out snowmobiling north of Mackenzie. Police and rescue personnel were called to the scene in the Powder King-Bijoux Falls area beginning shortly before 2 p.m. They said two snowmobilers were in the area at the time and one was buried in the snow. The victim's name was not provided. "The BC Coroners Service has conduct of this incident and is currently investigating to determine the facts surrounding this death. No further details are available at this time," RCMP said in a statement. On the previous Friday, Avalanche Canada had issued its first forecast of the season and had put the danger rating for the North Rockies at high for treeline and above and considerable for below treeline. "There was a pretty big storm that pass through the area, almost a week long storm," Avalanche Canada warning service manager Karl Klassen said Monday. "And that storm just started breaking up on Saturday, there was a fair amount of wind and quite a bit of new snow. Temperatures were quite warm and then they cooled off and those are kind of classic conditions for pretty significant avalanche danger. "We rated the danger as high, we told people to expect large avalanches on all aspects and all elevations given the amount of wind and snow and the temperatures that were occurring at the time." The high rating is one level below extreme and is used when conditions are deemed to be very dangerous. Travel in avalanche terrain is not recommended when the rating is in place although Klassen said it can be done with proper training and experience. "Even when the avalanche danger is high or even extreme, there are places in the mountains where avalanches just don't occur so as long as you can recognize that terrain and stay on that terrain, you'd be fine," Klassen said. "But again, just to stress, it's not something you (should do) without getting some training, getting some experience and gaining some knowledge and making a good trip plan before they leave." Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, he said avalanche courses remain available. Theory is being learned online or in smaller class sizes and with greater physical distancing and masks once outside for the practical part. To find a class, go to avalanche.ca and click on the learn tab. Thanks to an influx of federal funding, a three-person field team has been working in the region during the winter months since December 2019. Klassen said forecasts for the region will be issued four times a week this season, up from three times a week last winter.Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince George Citizen
Alberta’s top doctor is reminding Albertans that the COVID-19 virus is spreading across the whole province, not just in large urban centres. On Thursday afternoon, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said COVID-19 cases are rising and spreading in rural communities. The warning came on the same day the province broke another daily case record with 1,854 new cases found in the past 24 hours. “COVID-19 is not a Calgary problem or an Edmonton problem. This is a provincial problem within a global problem,” Hinshaw said. Hinshaw said in the spring rural communities were less impacted than urban areas by the virus' spread, but right now, cases are growing in the north, central and south zones, with one third of all active cases outside of the province's two major cities. COVID-19 doesn’t care where you live or what your postal code is, Hinshaw said, and she reminded residents it just takes one case in a community to cause an outbreak. On top of spread, Hinshaw said it may be more difficult to access services for serious outcomes in rural areas, including being further away from health care and intensive care beds. On Thursday, the province saw 1,854 new cases of COVID-19, the highest single-day case climb yet. “Anyone who contracts the virus needs our support,” Hinshaw said, reminding residents to not stigmatize those who have come down with COVID-19. In the last 24 hours, the province has conducted 19,600 tests, with 9.5 per cent coming back positive. There are currently 17,743 active cases of the virus in Alberta, with 511 people in the hospital and 97 in intensive care. “These numbers are very concerning and I know that AHS is watching them closely,” Hinshaw said. In the past 24 hours, 14 deaths due to COVID-19 were reported. “Sharing the number of lives lost is a little more difficult each day because I know the pain and sadness their deaths cause for their families and friends left behind,” Hinshaw said. On Nov. 24, the province announced new restrictions to help curb the rapid spread of COVID-19 in the province, with most of the restrictions kicking in on Friday and Monday. Jennifer Henderson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, St. Albert Gazette
The City of Vancouver now owns the Regent and Balmoral hotels, Downtown Eastside buildings the city had been trying to expropriate after years of neglect and decay, The Tyee has learned. Land title records list the city as the current owner of 159 E. Hastings — the Balmoral — and 160 E. Hastings — the Regent. The city confirmed to The Tyee that a settlement with the owners, the Sahota family, had been reached. But the city says the terms of the agreement prevent it from revealing how much was paid to purchase the properties, which have been assessed at a value of $1 each because of their extreme disrepair. Sam Dharmapala worked in the buildings as an employee of the former owners, the Sahota family. For a decade, Dharmapala said, he worked alongside tenants and advocates to raise the alarm about the dangerous living conditions at the hotels. “This is a very good fight in the history of the Downtown Eastside,” Dharmapala said. “We want to see [the hotels] go back to the residents of the Downtown Eastside, who have lived in those buildings.” Dharmapala said the city needs to ensure all the units in the two hotels are rented at the welfare shelter rate — $375 for a single person — to provide homes for Vancouver’s poorest residents. The hotels had provided more than 300 units. The records show the transfer happened Nov. 13, one year after Vancouver city council voted unanimously to expropriate the hotels in a groundbreaking decision. Council voted to expropriate after decades of repeated building code and bylaw violations and after taking the owners, the Sahota family, to court numerous times. It was the first time the city had ever attempted to expropriate residential buildings because of extreme neglect. The city started the court action with the intention of renovating or redeveloping the properties for low-income housing. Before the expropriation vote, council heard from dozens of tenants and former tenants who described living with no heat or hot water, constant bedbug, rat and cockroach infestations and the fear of what would happen if there were a fire. Tenants had lived in squalor in the two buildings for decades. City building inspectors ordered the Balmoral to be emptied in the summer of 2017 because it was in such poor condition. One year later, the Regent was also condemned. Tenants of both buildings were moved into other buildings by the City of Vancouver and BC Housing. Karen Ward, a Downtown Eastside resident who now works for the city as a drug policy advisor, said city building inspectors initially closed just the bathrooms of the Balmoral in June 2017 because they feared bathtubs could plunge through the rotten floors. Ward worked at the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users at the time. “People were coming to me daily to say they were terrified to go into their own home,” Ward said. Ward called for the buildings to be torn down and for modular housing to be quickly built in their place. “We can build a six- to eight-story building and house 100 people by April,” Ward said. “It’s a desperate situation out here and we don’t need to do things the old way — we can use modular housing to build housing that decreases the chance of death for drug users. We can do this.” Overdose deaths have soared throughout 2020 and homelessness has increased as COVID-19 restrictions have made the drug supply more toxic and reduced the number of places people can go to find shelter. Vancouver’s mayor, Kennedy Stewart, said the city plans to work with BC Housing to turn the buildings into low-income housing. “Bringing the Regent and Balmoral into public ownership marks a hopeful new beginning for residents of the Downtown Eastside and something all residents should be proud of,” Stewart was quoted as saying in a press release. “Downtown Eastside residents will be at the centre of creating a new vision for these two sites, and indeed the entire community.” B.C.’s attorney general and minister responsible for housing, David Eby, also weighed in, saying: “For too long, people had to live in sub-standard living conditions in these buildings. The acquisition of these properties is welcome news.” The next steps will be to start community consultation sessions with the Downtown Eastside community, and city staff will report back to council on next steps and a timeline for renovating or redeveloping the properties in early 2021, according to the City of Vancouver. On Nov. 3, city communications staff told The Tyee court expropriation proceedings were paused while the city worked with “representatives of the owners of the Regent and the Balmoral to resolve the expropriation of the hotels.” The Tyee has reached out to the city for comment. In a statement emailed to The Tyee by lawyer Evan Cooke, the Sahota family confirmed they had come to an agreement with the city. “We have determined that the public sector is better equipped to respond to the acute needs of the area’s residents at this time; including their urgent need for housing, mental health and substance abuse support, and other critical programs.” The statement said the details of the transfer are confidential.Jen St. Denis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Tyee
If he didn't know it before, Cariboo-Prince George MP Todd Doherty knows it now - they can come at the most unexpected times. Shortly before he was about to ask a question during Question Period in the House of Commons last Monday, Doherty received a text from his wife Kelly, notifying him that their pregnant daughter's water just broke. "I'm going to be a grandfather for the first time," Doherty told fellow MPs who responded with a round of applause. Still a little flustered, Doherty then said he had completely forgotten what he was going to say, which drew a round of good-natured laughter. Doherty was then able to gather his thoughts and ask health minister Patty Hadju about the extent of her commitment to bringing a 988 national suicide hotline to Canada. Earlier in November, Doherty had tabled a motion to establish the service, saying the easy-to-remember three-digit number could make the difference between a life saved and a life lost. "Does the minister support a national 988 suicide hotline in Canada, and if you don't, if the minister doesn't, just have the courtesy to say so," he said. Hadju, in turn, acknowledged the big news first. "I can't help but say congratulations to the member opposite, because that's pretty exciting news to break to the House of Commons," she said. Hadju went on to say she wants to continue to work with Doherty to bring the hotline to Canada and to find ways to make realize his proposal more quickly. On Wednesday, back home in his riding and taking part in House business remotely, Doherty proudly showed his Parliamentary colleagues a picture of his granddaughter, Ren Kathleen. Videos of both moments can be seen on Doherty’s Facebook page. Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince George Citizen
A 21-year-old man is facing charges after a teacher was assaulted at a high school in King City, Ont., York Regional Police say.On Nov 10., right before 11:30 a.m., a man entered King City Secondary School and walked around the first floor of the building before entering a classroom on the second floor, police said in a statement. He punched a 37-year-old teacher in the classroom and then fled the school, heading west on King Road. The teacher sustained minor injuries, said Sgt. Any Pattenden in a news release.Investigators released a surveillance camera image of a suspect on Thursday and asked for the public's help in identifying him.The accused, who is from Richmond Hill, turned himself in on Friday in Newmarket, Ont., said Pattenden. He is charged with assault, mischief, trespass to property and failure to comply with a continued section 7.02 order. That order is an amendment under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act that was to protect public health amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Police are asking anyone with information to contact them at 1-866-876-5423, ext. 7141, or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS, or leave an anonymous tip online at www.1800222tips.com.
The Free Store in Summerside is booked solid with shopping appointments and asking clients to cancel their slots if they can't make it. Due to COVID-19 spacing restrictions, anyone wishing to shop at the store must make a 15-minute appointment in advance. The problem comes, said owner-operator Belinda Woods, when someone doesn't show up for their appointment. Then the time is wasted instead of another client being able to use it. "If you're coming, great," said Woods. "If not, please let other people come."My worry is that people aren't going to get the things that they need."> It's a little trickier now because we can't let as many people into the store. — Belinda Woods, The Free Store The Free Store allows people to shop free of charge for new and used goods such as winter clothes, bedding, furniture and household items. The store is always popular this time of year, said Woods, but before the pandemic, Islanders in need could line up outside and she let about 25 people into the store at once. Now, only one to five people are allowed inside at one time. "It's a little trickier now because we can't let as many people into the store," said Woods. "Please, please, either keep your appointment, or cancel it or let me know and I'll be able to fill it with somebody else." The store is open for shopping every Saturday from 12 to 5 p.m. Appointments are all filled, but you can still get on a waiting list in case people cancel.Special children's shopping event Woods also just began taking appointments for her special annual children's shopping event on Saturday, Dec. 12. "That's where the children can come and shop for their parents," she said. She anticipates those spots will fill up fast as well, and she might extend the event to two Saturdays. More from CBC P.E.I.
TORONTO — Midfielder Jonathan Osorio has been handed a one-game suspension and undisclosed fine for violent conduct in Toronto FC's 1-0 playoff loss to Nashville SC.Hacked to the ground in the 32nd minute by Nashville midfielder Alex Muyl, Osorio kicked up with his left leg while on the ground, catching Muyl in the groin area during the Nov. 24 match at East Hartford.While Osorio escaped punishment from referee Robert Sibiga, the play was subsequently reviewed by the MLS Disciplinary Committee.The committee is allowed to step in in cases where the Professional Referees Organization (PRO) acknowledges an on-field referee or video review error — and the committee is unanimous that the play warrants at least a one-match suspension as a "clear and unequivocal red card, is egregious and/or repeat behaviour in nature, and/or the committee must act to protect player safety or the integrity of the game."Osorio will serve his suspension in Toronto’s first match of the 2021 regular season. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020The Canadian Press
A trilingual 16-year-old budding baker has launched her own business in St. Albert. Valeria Fonseca is turning her passion for baking into a home business by offering her cakes for sale online. “I feel really happy. I am very happy because I have a new business and because the kitchen is my passion,” Fonseca said. Fonseca’s passion for baking and cooking ignited just one year ago after her parents separated. Fonseca lives with her mom, Catherine Varvas, who after the separation started to take over the family cooking and asked her daughter for help. Fonseca quickly took to cooking and discovered her passion for creating food with her own hands. Varvas said she loves baking and cooking with her daughter because it makes her happy and calm. "She dances, she sings – she's so happy," the mom said. Fonseca started watching baking and cooking shows, like Master Chef, and wants to be a chef when she grows up. The business really took off this year during COVID-19, when the teen had more time at home. Fonseca is doing online learning this year and makes time to bake on Tuesdays and Sundays. Making the cakes has been good for the teen's self-esteem. “People say, ‘A beautiful girl with delicious cakes,’ and I am so proud,” Fonseca said. Fonseca began her cake-making venture by baking one for a friend, who remarked that the cakes were delicious. The friend suggested the family make a video of Fonseca making the cakes to promote her baking skills, and after the video was posted to Facebook, the family got very positive feedback. "People had a very good reaction and liked the cakes," Varvas said. Fonseca said her favourite cake to make is a red fruit cake, with strawberries, blackberries and blueberries. The teen is also passionate about cooking, loves to make Mexican food and hopes to specialize in cooking that cuisine when she is older. Fonseca, who speaks English as a third language, moved to St. Albert two years ago. The family is originally from Columbia but emigrated to Montreal five years ago. Varvas said the family left Montreal to find more inclusive education for her daughter, who has Down Syndrome. Back home in Colombia, Fonseca was learning alongside all of the other children in a classroom and getting an inclusive education, but in Montreal they didn’t have that same experience. So Varvas moved the family to Alberta so Fonseca could have the very best education possible. "We came to Alberta and we've found the door open, and we are so happy here," Varvas said. To order Fonseca's cakes, you can visit Valecakes on Facebook.Jennifer Henderson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, St. Albert Gazette
The Trump administration on Friday suspended all federal student loan payments through the end of January and kept interest rates at 0%, extending a moratorium that started early in the pandemic but was set to expire at the end of this month.By extending payments by one month, the administration is effectively leaving it to the Biden administration or Congress to decide whether to provide longer-term relief to millions of student borrowers. The measure was included in a March relief package and the White House extended it in August, but its fate was in doubt amid stalemate over a new relief bill.In announcing the extension, DeVos rebuked Congress for failing to act. “The added time also allows Congress to do its job and determine what measures it believes are necessary and appropriate," DeVos said in a statement. "The Congress, not the Executive Branch, is in charge of student loan policy.”Under the measure, students will not be required to make payments, their loans will not accrue interest and all collection activity will halt until the end of January.DeVos won praise for using her authority to pause federal student loan payments in March. Congress later cemented the measure in legislation and Trump extended it through December, but the looming deadline stoked fears that millions of borrowers would be forced to resume payments even as unemployment rates soared.Last month, the American Council on Education and dozens of other higher education associations urged DeVos to extend the relief, saying the recent surge in COVID-19 cases would likely lead to even more economic turmoil.“Bringing millions of Americans back into repayment in the thick of this crisis will cause additional financial hardship and force borrowers to make difficult decisions about their limited resources,” the groups wrote in a letter to DeVos.Even DeVos' own agency warned of looming trouble if the moratorium lapsed. In its annual report last month, Federal Student Aid, the office that oversees student loans, said that without an extension it would face a “heavy burden" in moving millions of borrowers to active repayment at the same time.President-elect Joe Biden has not directly addressed the moratorium but on Tuesday called for immediate relief including "relief from rent and student loans.” He has also supported proposals to erase up to $10,000 in student debt for all borrowers as part of a future virus relief package.In Friday's announcement, DeVos said her agency is working to notify the loan servicing companies that the Education Department contracts with to manage collections. A federal lawsuit filed against DeVos in April alleged that thousands of overdue borrowers were still getting pay withheld despite the mortarium. The department blamed the error on its servicers.DeVos' Friday release says that any defaulted borrowers who continue to have wages withheld will receive refunds.Collin Binkley, The Associated Press
THUNDER BAY — A 62-year-old man who falsely claimed to be COVID-19 positive while under arrest for violating court orders was sentenced on Friday for one count of conveying false information, failing to provide a breath sample and failure to comply with conditions of an undertaking. Arnett Langfried appeared in a Thunder Bay Zoom courtroom on Friday, Dec. 4 where he was sentenced by Judge Peter Bishop to 50 days of pre-sentence custody, which was enhanced to 75 days for all three charges. During his sentencing hearing, Langfried told the court he had not been tested for the virus despite telling police during his arrest on Oct. 15 he had received a positive test result for COVID-19 days before. Langfried came to police attention after the vehicle he was driving was reported to police for erratic and aggressive driving, Crown Attorney Stella Vallelunga said Friday, Dec. 4. Police conducted a traffic stop on Highway 11/17 near Shabaqua where they informed the driver of the reason for the stop and requested his driver's licence. The driver provided an expired out-of-province licence which alerted police the motorist was under court orders to not be driving. Police also observed the vehicle had two different licence plates on it. Officers advised Langfried he was under arrest for breaching his recognizance and placed him in the back of a police cruiser. Officers then spoke with a woman who was seated in the front passenger side of the vehicle who was reluctant to give police her name. Court heard police were making efforts to arrange for an alternate ride for the woman but she insisted on staying with Langfried. Once she provided her name and date of birth, police were notified her name came back as a missing person from the Peel Region area. Officers notified police in Peel. The woman became extremely uncooperative with the police and began screaming at officers she wanted to stay with her husband, court heard. While Langfried was in the back of the vehicle, he told police he had tested positive for COVID-19 in Newmarket days prior. At one point, Langfried and the woman began to verbally abuse the police by using profanities, court heard. Langfriend also pulled his mask down while speaking with police and officers observed an odour of alcohol from his breath. While police were searching his vehicle they found a full can of beer. Police asked Langfried for a breath sample to which he refused. He was also on court-orders to have zero milligrams of alcohol inside his body outside of his residence. Langfried’s lawyer, Sharon Scharfe, informed the court her client's poor behaviour that day was partly be attributed to his concern for his girlfriend. The couple also had a cat inside the vehicle who had gotten out on the highway and both individuals were distracted and upset about what had happened, the lawyer said. Court also heard a background of Langfried's criminal history including a conviction of an attempt to commit murder using a firearm in 2011 for which he received four years and eight months at a Saskatchewan penitentiary. He was also ordered to pay a $2,000 fine and received a one-year driving prohibition for failing to provide a breath sample. Langfried apologized for his actions in court.Karen Edwards, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source
WINNIPEG — Manitoba's premier is facing backlash from Indigenous leaders for comments criticizing Ottawa's planning for COVID-19 vaccine distribution among First Nations.“Instead of uniting Manitobans during a health crisis, Brian Pallister is purposefully sowing seeds of division and hate,” Southern Chiefs’ Organization Grand Chief Jerry Daniels said Friday.Pallister criticized the federal government's national vaccine rollout strategy during a news conference Thursday.The Progressive Conservative premier said Ottawa has plans to distribute the vaccine on a per-capita basis."They are also telling us that they are going to hold back the portion of our vaccine for Manitoba that they would then allocate to Indigenous and First Nations communities," Pallister said."What that would mean than is Manitobans who do not live in northern Indigenous communities would be the least likely to get a vaccine in the country." Manitoba has the highest percentage of Indigenous people in its population of all the provinces. The premier said the results would be unfair. "This puts Manitobans at the back of the line. This hurts Manitobans, to put it mildly," he said. The premier has since reached out to Indigenous leaders to arrange a meeting to discuss the rollout, Daniels said.The grand chief added that he has "no interest in meeting with a premier who race baits and plays loosely with the inter-governmental relationships."Opposition NDP Leader Wab Kinew called Pallister's comments unfortunate. "The premier is trying to divide team Manitoba and have it turn in on itself at a time when we are actually asking everyone to do the exact opposite," Kinew said. When asked about vaccine distribution plans Friday, federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu said there have been conversations with provincial and territorial leaders "to assess what their perspective is.""There is a federal role to play in protecting a certain amount of product — whether we're talking about vaccines or personal protective equipment — for federal populations that we're responsible for, as well as for urgent situations," she said.Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Arlen Dumas also criticized Pallister for giving people the false idea that all vaccine doses would be going to people in the north.A significant surge of COVID-19 infections has disproportionately affected First Nations people in Manitoba during the second wave of the pandemic.There were 625 new cases in on- and off- reserve populations in the last seven days, according to data from the First Nations COVID-19 Pandemic Response Coordination Team in Manitoba. First Nations people make up 30 per cent of all people in hospital and 42 per cent of those in intensive care. The five-day test positivity rate among First Nations people in Manitoba is 20 per cent.Chief Eric Redhead of the Shamattawa First Nation posted online Friday that there were 117 active infections in the northern Manitoba community of about 1,100. Its five-day test positivity rate was more than 50 per cent. "We are literally at a breaking point," Redhead said.Redhead said health professionals with the rapid response team in Shamattawa have also tested positive or are isolating due to exposure. He has called on the federal government to provide military help. Manitoba released new modelling Friday that shows that three people end up in hospital and one person dies for every 48 cases of COVID-19. "We need to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our communities or we will continue to see these harsh effects," said Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba's chief public health officer.The province recorded nine more deaths from COVID-19 and 320 new infections Friday. There were also 361 people in hospital with 55 in intensive care. The province brought in tighter public health measures last month, with restrictions on public gatherings and business openings.Roussin said that if no measures had been put in place, there would have been up to 1,055 new daily infections by Sunday. Daily cases have recently been tracking between 300 and 500.But Roussin said the test positivity rate remains too high. The five-day test positivity rate was 13.4 per cent provincially and 14.6 per cent in Winnipeg."It’s too early to say we are changing trajectory."The restrictions expire next Friday, and Roussin said he expects the majority will stay in place.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020. Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press
VICTORIA — British Columbia's top doctor and the health minister are urging the public to slow the spread of COVID-19 this weekend by limiting any festive gatherings to immediate households. Dr. Bonnie Henry and Adrian Dix say 711 new infections have been recorded in the province and 11 more people have died, for a total of 492 fatalities. They say in a joint statement that B.C. is continuing to see a significant surge in community transmission so all public health orders must be followed as more than 36,000 people have tested positive for the virus. Henry has said it's important to remain vigilant in containing the virus for the next few months and that everyone in the province who wants to be vaccinated could be immunized by September. Nearly 11,000 people who have been identified as being exposed to the virus are being monitored and 25,658 people who tested positive have recovered. The latest public health orders have meant the cancellation of adult indoor and outdoor team sports, though children can continue participating in local games without spectators. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020. The Canadian Press
The Strathmore and District Agricultural Society has started a new tree sponsorship program that will see dozens of commemorative elm trees added to its grounds. Residents and groups can recognize or commemorate individuals in the community by sponsoring the planting of rows of Brandon elm trees at the ag grounds, to be called the Row of Honour. The trees will help beautify the area, said Ryan Schmidt, general manager and CEO of Strathmore and District Agricultural Society. “Brandon elms are long-lived trees that grow very tall with a lovely canopy; they will really transform the look of our grounds.” Brandon elm are cultivars of American elm (Ulmus americana) but are more upright. They grow to about 49 feet (15 metres) at maturity, live for about 80 years or more, and have wide environmental tolerances, including growing in dry conditions and urban areas. The idea was proposed by Dale Johnson, a local arborist, because he had some people he wanted to honour, said Schmidt. “We talked about it and decided it would be a great idea to put forward, as we know there’s lots of heroes around here that deserve recognition.” Each sponsor will select a person they wish to honour, and a tree will be planted with an accompanying post and plaque to commemorate them. “So, it could be someone that has passed away and has a tree planted in their memory, or someone who is still with us they just want to appreciate,” he said. Some of the people who will be recognized will be those who have played a role in developing the agricultural society and the Strathmore Stampede, he said. But the program is open to anyone. The cost of sponsoring each tree is $1,000, which covers the cost of the tree, and its planting and lifetime maintenance. Eagle Lake Nurseries is providing the trees at cost, which typically retail for about $600, and the planting and maintenance is also being provided at cost by local arborists. “That makes it all possible for that price,” said Schmidt. The planting is being planned in two phases, with trees being planted in the inner grounds in the first phase and at the grounds’ entrance in the second. A few trees have already been planted, thanks to Johnson. The next plantings will happen in the spring, but the project will be open for multiple years. The trees in the inner grounds will line either side of the walkway between the admission building and the grandstands. “You’ll be walking down a path between these rows of trees with the canopy above you – it will be beautiful.”Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
People who use the OC Transpo My Alerts system may have had their emails and passwords compromised, says the City of Ottawa.The My Alerts system is used to notify customers about changes to transit service by email or text, a news release from the city said Friday.People's financial and credit card information are not affected, and there's no impact to the city's payment system nor Presto, according to the city.Subscribers to the My Alerts system who use the same password for other accounts are advised to change their passwords. "Other private accounts that use the same password could be at risk. The Canadian Centre for Cyber Security advises against using the same password for multiple accounts," reads the release.The affected system is currently shut down, but people who are already subscribed will continue to get notifications.Cyber security expert hired"The safety and security of all customers is our top priority. The City is investigating to determine how and when this information was accessed," reads the news release.The city says it has asked a third-party expert in cyber security to look at the system and make sure "the vulnerability that caused this issue is resolved."The city says it apologizes to My Alerts subscribers for the incident.If any subscribers have questions, they're asked to contact OC Transpo's customer service centre at 613-741-4390
A West Coast MP wants the federal transport minister to ditch fines in the thousands of dollars and allow BC Ferries passengers to remain in their vehicles on enclosed car decks to protect themselves from COVID-19 despite regulations against the practice. Rachel Blaney, North Island-Powell River’s NDP MP, has written to Transport Minister Marc Garneau questioning the logic of potentially fining people up to $12,000 when they are heeding public health orders to keep their contact with other people to a minimum. “We’re in the middle of a pandemic and case numbers are growing in B.C.,” Blaney said. “And obviously it’s a concern to the point that people are willing to be written up and risk fines on the ferries to prevent exposure to COVID-19.” In the initial wave of the pandemic, Transport Canada temporarily waived regulations requiring people in cars on closed decks to head up to passenger lounges. But the federal agency rescinded the exception granted to ferry operators at the end of September. Blaney said she has made her second appeal to Garneau after learning 1,000 people have defied the order and have been reported to Transport Canada. The risks of exposure to the virus are higher now than during the initial exemption, Blaney said, adding B.C. Premier John Horgan has also called on Ottawa to extend the exemption. “The minister previously paused that rule so that people could stay safe,” she said. “Now, when case numbers are growing, why won't he do it again?” Ferry workers have not been policing passengers who choose to remain in their cars, said BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall. “We’re not an enforcement agency,” said Marshall. “We’re politely reminding customers of the Transport Canada regulations.” Staff has been handing out Transport Canada leaflets to passengers who don’t leave the decks that outline the regulations and potential penalties, she said. Those who elect to stay in their cars have their information forwarded to the transport ministry, she added. Marshall confirmed more than 1,000 incidents have been reported to Transport Canada, most often on the sailings between Horseshoe Bay on the mainland and Departure Bay on Vancouver Island. But the vast majority of passengers have been complying with the regulation, Marshall said. The rule is in effect again because Transport Canada believes that new distancing and cleaning protocols on the provincial ferry service mitigate the risk individuals face from COVID-19 exposure, she added. “We certainly understand people are concerned about COVID-19,” Marshall said, adding there a number of risks associated with staying on a car deck. Though it’s unlikely, a car fire could pose serious danger in an enclosed deck, she said. “A customer in their vehicle could be overcome by smoke inhalation or might not be able to find their way out of their vehicle or get through to a stairwell to get upstairs,” she said. Blaney feels the current risks from the virus are greater than those from remaining on closed decks. And she has asked for the risk assessment the transport ministry relied on to make its decision. Constituents in her riding, particularly those who are vulnerable to the virus but must travel to seek medical attention, are expressing grave concerns, Blaney said. “People are very scared,” she said. “They're already travelling to access the care that they need from bigger centres, asking them in their health conditions to risk exposure just adds to the tension.” Rochelle Baker / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada's National ObserverRochelle Baker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
A Strathmore resident has been recognized for her extensive efforts volunteering for the community. Marlys Lein was nominated for the 2020 Stars of Alberta Volunteer Awards, a yearly award given to volunteers who have made a large impact on their community. While Lein was not ultimately selected as an award finalist, her impressive contributions were recognized by a certificate and letter from Leela Sharon Aheer, Alberta’s Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women. A resident of Strathmore for over 40 years, Lein has contributed to numerous organizations in town. One of her current efforts is volunteering with the Strathmore Pickleball Club, which was founded in 2015 after the hosting of the Alberta 55+ Summer Games. Lein’s work with the club, including organizing playing venues, purchasing equipment, booking instructors and helping players has helped it to grow, said Louise Bleier, a volunteer with the organization. “We started literally from nothing and we’re over 100 members now.” Lein was also instrumental in helping to plan for the possible construction of permanent, dedicated pickleball courts and to repair the town’s existing courts, added Bleier, who wrote the nomination. “She’s volunteered hundreds and hundreds of hours over the past 40 years, and it’s improved the quality of life in our community,” said Bleier. “Her initiative and leadership are incredible.” By working with the club, Lein said she was “just promoting a game I really love … trying to get all different people exposed to it,” she said, adding she hopes the club’s membership continues to grow, especially from among the town’s seniors. While matches are sidelined by the COVID-19 pandemic for now, membership is $35 and available through the organization’s website, strathmorepickleball.ca. Lein also serves as president of Strathmore Regional Victim Services Society, which provides 24-hour crisis response to victims of crime and tragedy, and is in her sixth year volunteering with the organization. Lein helps the organization continually move forward, said Linda Stead, treasurer. “She always steps forward and does what she can for us,” said Stead. “She’s a hard worker and when she takes something on, she gets it done.”Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
A massive rockslide in the Grand Canyon was captured on video by a hiker Friday. Jordan Thomas of Indianapolis was on the rim of the canyon overlooking the Colorado River when the rockslide occurred. (Dec. 5)
Employees at the LNG Canada work site in Kitimat, B.C., complained multiple times about unsafe working conditions just months before the facility experienced a COVID-19 outbreak, according to WorkSafe BC inspection reports obtained by The Narwhal. The outbreak at LNG Canada started on Nov. 19 and there are now 54 cases. In the months leading up to the outbreak, workers raised concerns about COVID-19 cleaning procedures in common areas, rooms and work spaces, prompting inspections by WorkSafe BC on Aug. 28 and Oct. 19. The documents also reveal that a WorkSafe BC inspection of the Site C work camp’s sewage treatment facility in northeast B.C. on March 19 found the facility did not have a plan to sufficiently protect workers from pathogens, body fluids, human waste, mould and COVID-19. WorkSafe BC didn’t say if or how the issues flagged during the inspection were resolved. The first case of COVID-19 at Site C was in July and there have been 17 cases to date. On Dec. 4, BC Hydro reported five active cases and 18 people in self-isolation. The revelations come as calls grow for B.C. to shut down work camps or risk further community spread with northern hospitals already stretched thin. More than 180 frontline health workers have signed an open letter to Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry that started circulating on Thursday, calling on her to immediately shut down industrial work camps on Indigenous territories. “To put the interests of economy and industry ahead of Indigenous lives is not public health,” the letter says. “To put Indigenous Elders and youth at further risk in the midst of a pandemic is to say quite clearly that Indigenous lives still do not matter in B.C.” On Thursday, the Unist’ot’en Camp said Coastal GasLink confirmed five new cases at its camp 9A on Unist’ot’en territory. Sley’do Molly Wickham, Gidimt’en Camp spokesperson, said at least one Wet’suwet’en worker in a Coastal GasLink work camp recently contracted the virus and is now hospitalized in an induced coma. David Bowering, former chief medical officer for Northern Health, said the time has come for the province to shift gears and take a harder look at what it deems essential. “Is it industry first, or the health and safety of the population in the north first? They need to rethink the essential designation and say it’s not that essential, certainly not at this price.” Coastal GasLink, BC Hydro and the Ministry of Health did not respond to interview requests prior to publication. LNG Canada declined an interview request. Bowering told The Narwhal he’s surprised it took this long for an outbreak in the work camps to occur. In the early days of the pandemic, he wrote an open letter to Henry urging her to shut down the work camps, calling them “land locked cruise ships” and warning that cases related to these industrial sites were inevitable. He knows what he’s talking about — his first job as a doctor was at a mining camp. He called the safety plans prepared by LNG Canada and Coastal GasLink “deluxe” documents but says the best plans in the world don’t mean anything if people aren’t following the rules. “They have luxury-class health and safety plans and luxury-class consultants compared to what the public sector can afford,” he said. “The virus doesn’t respect paper protocols. There’s just too much human nature involved.” Wickham said she has frequently seen workers flouting the rules. “We know that they’re not following even the basic protocols like wearing masks when they’re in vehicles together or when they’re close working closely with one another,” she said. “And they’re certainly not wearing masks when they’re interacting with our people on the territory.” Bowering is concerned that capacity at Northern Health hospitals is already stretched thin. In a statement released yesterday, the health authority said it is “experiencing an increase in COVID-19 activity and hospitalizations for COVID-19 patients requiring critical care.” There 235 active cases in the region including 33 people in hospital. Patients have already been transferred to hospitals outside the region to deal with the increase. “I think we’re in for a rough ride,” Bowering said. “The worry about our local hospitals and our local staff being overwhelmed, burned out and having difficulty coping, that’s becoming a pretty clear reality. Our communities need help.” Bowering isn’t alone in his calls to shut down work camps. The open letter from frontline health workers calls for Henry to take “immediate action” and shut down work camps. “As health professionals, we have a responsibility to uphold the current and future health of these communities, which are now under threat from the continuing of Coastal GasLink (LNG) work and man camps,” the letter says. The frontline health workers’ letter is in support of concerns raised by more than 20 Wet’suwet’en matriarchs, or Ts’ako ze’, in an open letter to Henry dated Nov. 30. In that letter, the matriarchs asked the public health officer to reconsider the essential designation given to the oil and gas industry and close work camps, which have also been shown to increase violence against Indigenous women and children and bring a host of social ills. “Not only have we witnessed an increase in drugs, alcohol and gang-related violence in our communities, we are now faced with a disease that could kill any one of us,” the matriarchs wrote. “In addition to the risk man camps have on our Indigenous women and girls, we are now facing the loss of some of our most sacred elders and chiefs.” At the time of publication, the Ts’ako ze’ said they had not received a response from the public health officer. The calls to shut down work camps come in the wake of a damning independent review that found widespread racism and discrimination against Ingienous people in B.C. health care. The 224-page report released on Nov. 30 found that racism and discrimination negatively affect the treatment and health outcomes of Indigenous people, who are already at higher risk of health issues due to a number of factors realted to systemic racism, such a poverty and intergenerational trauma. “Many Indigenous people have underlying health conditions because of all of the impacts of colonization,” Wickham said. “We have higher rates of diabetes and higher rates of heart disease. Our people are at greater risk of dying.” Wickham said a particularly alarming aspect to the increase in cases in work camps is the potential impact on Indigenous communities. Most industrial operations have a mandate to hire local and Indigenous workers and those people mix with transient workers and, on their days off, with members of their own communities. Bowering said the continued presence of industrial activity is contradictory to the goals of the public health office. “I drive by First Nations [communities] and see the barriers and the closed signs — these people are trying remarkably hard to stay safe,” he said. “But at the same time, there are buses coming and going to many of them, up to the mines and back.” The BC Centre for Disease Control noted in its guidance document for industrial sites that Indigenous people are at higher risk of COVID-19 and recommended that employers limit its workers’ interactions in surrounding towns. But Bowering and Wickham said the presence of out of town workers in the region is both common and on the rise. “We have been concerned about not just the man camps, but the fact that a lot of the workers are living in our communities and hotels,” Wickham said. “They’re going back and forth every day.” Bowering said the B.C. public health office can easily put the brakes on what could quickly become a serious and escalating crisis in high-risk communities. “They have to decide whether having everybody else not travelling, but allowing these workers to travel is a reasonable public health decision? Is it even ethically reasonable?” Meanwhile, activity on Wet’suwet’en territory is increasing. “The whole territory is just crawling with workers,” Wickham said. She lives with her partner and three children in a cabin near the Coastal GasLink work zone. “They have helicopters flying overhead at least two or three times a day, both surveillance helicopters and industry helicopters slinging materials in and out of the territory. It’s a warzone out there.”Matt Simmons, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Narwhal
A Vancouver home builder isn’t waiting for government regulations to change to demonstrate his idea for quickly offering emergency housing to homeless people. Bryn Davidson is putting the finishing touches on a prototype of what he calls a “tiny townhome,” a basic shed-like structure that Davidson has suggested could be an alternative for people who are homeless and live in a tent or without any shelter at all. “We’ve listened to people just talk, talk, talk for ages, and it seems like very little ever happens,” said Davidson, the owner of Lanefab Design/Build. “The ability to just jump in and do something is appealing.” Once the 100-square-foot prototype is finished Davidson hopes to put it up at a yet-to-be-determined location to give people a sense of how the idea could work. The prototype will meet the City of Vancouver’s current zoning rules for a shed, but Davidson said a bathroom and kitchen module could be added to the tiny dwelling. The basic unit Davidson is building costs around $15,000. Davidson posted a video tour of the under-construction tiny townhome on Twitter. Davidson first suggested his idea earlier this fall as the city was grappling with what to do about rising homelessness and a growing tent city at Strathcona Park. Out of several options — including trying out a tiny home village — city councillors opted to prioritize buying or leasing more hotels rooms and apartment buildings to provide housing for people who are homeless. That option provides the highest quality housing but takes time to put into place. Meanwhile, COVID-19 capacity restrictions mean Vancouver has 379 fewer shelter spots open this winter. Another city council motion from Coun. Pete Fry asked city staff to look at what zoning and building code regulations would have to change to allow tiny homes. But Davidson doesn’t expect to see any actual changes to the building code or zoning until summer 2021 at the earliest. “I feel like something needs to be done,” he said. “The city was analyzing all these options from the city’s point of view. The advantage of [the tiny homes] strategy is it’s something the private sector and private individuals can just jump in and contribute to.” Tiny home villages have sprung up in many North American cities, and range from prefabricated structures with power to very basic dwellings with no heat or electricity. City staff have expressed concerns about designs for tiny homes that don’t include heat and electricity or a private bathroom. Current zoning would also require dwellings to include a fire suppression system. But Davidson and other tiny home proponents say the idea is to provide a temporary solution that provides better shelter and security than a tent. People who store their belongings in tents often have their stuff stolen, and when tents leak in cold, wet weather it’s difficult or impossible to dry out bedding and clothing. The prototype is insulated but would need to be hooked up to electricity to allow heat and ventilation. Davidson said he’s currently talking with the city, church groups and non-profits about a location for the prototype. Davidson envisions small “villages” of 10 to 20 tiny townhomes across Vancouver, placed in vacant lots that are awaiting development, for instance. When the prototype is finished, Davidson plans to try sleeping inside with his family to see what it’s like. “I think that there should be one of these little villages in every neighbourhood in the city,” Davidson said. “It’s not just something where somebody in Dunbar thinks, ‘Oh, that’s just a Downtown Eastside problem.’ I’d like to see every neighbourhood contributing.” Jen St. Denis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Tyee