Ontario Provincial Police say it’s believed a road rage incident happened on Highway 401 in Toronto before a 25-year-old man was fatally struck by a passing transport truck. Miranda Anthistle reports.
Ontario Provincial Police say it’s believed a road rage incident happened on Highway 401 in Toronto before a 25-year-old man was fatally struck by a passing transport truck. Miranda Anthistle reports.
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Fresh off another rejection in Pennsylvania's courts, Republicans on Thursday again asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the battleground state, while the state's lawyers say fatal flaws in the original case mean justices are highly unlikely to grant it. Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly of northwestern Pennsylvania and the other plaintiffs are asking the high court to prevent the state from certifying any contests from the Nov. 3 election, and undo any certifications already made, such as Biden’s victory, while its lawsuit is considered. They maintain that Pennsylvania’s expansive vote-by-mail law is unconstitutional because it required a constitutional amendment to authorize its provisions. However, in a sign that the case is likely too late to affect the election, Justice Samuel Alito ordered the state's lawyers to respond by Dec. 9, a day after what is known as the safe harbour deadline. That means that Congress cannot challenge any electors named by this date in accordance with state law. Biden beat President Donald Trump by more than 80,000 votes in Pennsylvania, a state Trump had won in 2016. Most mail-in ballots were submitted by Democrats. Pennsylvania's Supreme Court threw out the case Saturday. Kelly's lawyers sought an injunction Tuesday in the U.S. Supreme Court, then withdrew it while they asked the state's high court to halt any certifications until the U.S. Supreme Court acts. The state's justices refused Thursday, and Kelly's lawyers promptly refiled the case in the U.S. Supreme Court. In the state’s courts, justices cited the law’s 180-day time limit on filing legal challenges to its provisions, as well as the staggering demand that an entire election be overturned retroactively. In addition to challenging the state's mail-in voting law, Kelly’s lawyers question whether the state's justices violated their clients' constitutional rights by throwing out the case on the basis of time limits and barring them from refiling it on the same grounds. Lawyers for Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, said in court filings that Kelly's lawyers never before argued that the U.S. Constitution provides a basis for their claims, making it “highly unlikely” the U.S. Supreme Court will grant what they are seeking. In the underlying lawsuit, Kelly and the other Republican plaintiffs had sought to either throw out the 2.5 million mail-in ballots submitted under the law or to wipe out the election results and direct the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature to pick Pennsylvania’s presidential electors. ___ Follow Marc Levy on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/timelywriter Marc Levy, The Associated Press
Editor's note: This story was first published on Nov. 26, 2020 When a single mother was struggling to afford a bed for her and her kids, Mike the Mattress Guy stepped up. Owner Mike Rudkins dropped off bunk beds for the children and a queen-size bed for Mom. That’s the kind of charitable gesture that helped Rudkins and his wife, Krista, earn the provincial Small Businesses, Big Hearts Award. The Barrie entrepreneur also helps the community by offering free delivery for donations to the Barrie Food Bank or the Women’s and Children’s Shelter of Barrie. Last May, Small Business Minister Prabmeet Sarkaria created the award, which was designed to recognize businesses that help their community during COVID-19. Barrie-Innisfil MPP Andrea Khanjin presented the award at the Barrie store. “Mike the Mattress Guy helped our community by donating services, resources and time to help others so that the vulnerable can be in a better position to rebound from the economic challenges brought on by COVID-19,” she said in a media release. If you know a small business that has stepped up to help the community, send their story to firstname.lastname@example.org Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
Editor's note: This story was first published on Oct. 13, 2020 If you happen to have an interaction with a front-line Barrie police officer, you may be on camera. The city’s police service rolled out a pilot project Oct. 13, providing 25 officers with body cameras to test how beneficial they are for officer safety and transparency. An evaluation of the results will take place and a report will be presented to the police services board. The service is starting the pilot project after studying their use in other jurisdictions. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced funding for RCMP body cameras, and Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders is expediting body cameras for his officers. Calgary police are one the few large municipal police services in Canada to use the Axon body cameras. So what does this mean for Barrie officers and citizens? Will the cameras always be on? The short answer is no. Officers will engage the cameras when they arrive on a call or are about to engage in an investigation. The officer controls when the camera is off or on. What happens to the footage? The footage is uploaded to a secure server to be used for an ongoing investigation or for court evidence. Footage not needed for court will be deleted within one year. How will you know when you are being recorded? The camera will have a flashing red circle when it is recording. The flashing red light can be disabled if it compromises officer safety. What if you don’t want to be recorded? Officers do not need consent to record in a public place but must ask permission in a private place, unless they have a search warrant to enter the premises. Can an officer delete or edit the video? No. Officers have no control over the video once it is recorded. At the end of their shift, video is uploaded to a secure virtual server and is retained for one year unless needed for court. Can you view the video? A written request under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act is required before a decision can be made to release video or deny its release. Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
The future of the Wesley Gosse Memorial United Church Heritage Building in Spaniard’s Bay, which doubles as the town’s heritage museum, was a topic of discussion during the most recent meeting of council, as members of the Spaniard’s Bay Heritage Society were in the chamber to present a committee report, as well as discuss some of the concerns facing the museum. Dianne Carr, chairperson of the society, said that the Heritage Committee for the last year has just consisted of herself and vice-chairperson Mary Hutchings, who was also present at the meeting. “This has put a lot of restrictions on us, and a lot of responsibilities on us, when it comes to making decisions regarding heritage. However, having said that, Mary and I have worked really, really well together, and as a result, we’re quite pleased with the progress that we’ve made.,” said Carr. She added that, because regular summer activities had been cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions, the committee was able to do some upkeep on the building. Part of that included having a building assessment done. “And let’s face it, that building is heading up to 130 years old. It definitely has had problems, and will continue to have problems,” Carr said. “Most recently we have had some leaking in the belfry area, and we have continued to have problems with the front entrance door. I’m totally disappointed and frustrated with that, because council did give us a huge grant a few years back, we did get some money from Heritage Canada, but most of it was from the Town to support having the exterior of the building painted and any repairs to the doors made. The doors were not done well at all, and we’ve had a lot of difficulty accessing the doors. There’s been all kinds of problems. And we haven’t had another way to get into the building, because the exit is a fire exit.” Carr said the doors have also deteriorated with use over time. “I have complained to Heritage Canada, because they recommended, they were the ones who recommended the contractor at the time,” said Carr. A professional assessment of the building was done Nov. 6. “The engineer who came out and did the assessment was quite thorough. He went through the building top-to-bottom, inside and outside and underground,” said Carr, noting the engineer found things that need to be addressed immediately, and other things that need to be remedied in the long-term. “If we value it, and want to preserve it, then the commitment has to come to put money behind it. And at this point I have no idea how much that money will be,” Carr said. “There is some work that needs to be done, and as each year goes by, it’s only going to get worse, and worse, and worse. If we let the building go, we’re going to have to look for an alternate space for our heritage museum and all the beautiful things we have inside.” Some of the work the committee will consider doing in the near future includes repairing the front door, doing patchwork to prevent leaks, and work on the fence and wheelchair ramp. Most repairs will be paid out of the committee’s budget. To complicate some matters further, Carr reminded council that all repairs must be kept in line with heritage conservation policy, or else they could run the risk of losing heritage status for the building. Carr did note that, according to the engineer, the crawl space under the building was in surprisingly good condition, although some of the posts had rotted out. She also said it would not be wise to depend entirely on funding from other external sources, as many heritage funding grants are given in addition to a main funding base. “So, for example, with Heritage Newfoundland, they will contribute no more than 25 per cent. So that means the rest of the money has to come from the municipal government, or from fundraising,” she explained. “We have to know that down the road, that even if we do get funding from other sources, a lot of the money will have to come from here.” Carr acknowled the Town has put plenty of funds into the building already. Mayor Paul Brazil said that other groups, like the Port de Grave Peninsula Heritage Society, had received provincial funding, and he suggested reaching out to MHA Pam Parsons to inquire about how to apply for such money. Meanwhile, Deputy Mayor Darlene Stamp commended the work the committee had done over the summer. Carr attributed much of the progress to summer student Cara Callahan. “She’s a great example of a youth who is totally committed to her community and that sense of belonging and (wanting to) see things happen within our town,” said Carr. Deputy Mayor Stamp recommended council establish a committee to investigate the cost of repairs needed for the building, but Mayor Brazil said it would be something more fitting for the finance committee to have a look at. Meanwhile, he said he would talk with MHA Parsons about how to go about getting a grant for the Heritage Society.Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News
VANCOUVER — A Transportation Safety Board team has been assigned to investigate a marine accident that seriously injured two crew members from a freighter moored in English Bay, off Vancouver.A statement from the board says the team will examine why a lifeboat from the bulk carrier Blue Bosporus was accidentally released from the ship on Dec. 1.A coast guard statement issued Tuesday said the two crew members were hurt as they carried out a routine drill in the covered lifeboat.The boat began to sink after it had dropped into the water and a vessel from the Kitsilano coast guard station was one of several that responded, rescuing the injured sailors.The statement from the safety board says its team will gather information and assess the occurrence.Three Ukrainian crew members died and one was hurt in October 2000 when a similar covered lifeboat fell about 15 metres into the water from a bulk carrier moored in English Bay.A report by the safety board in 2003 identified issues with the lifeboat's lowering mechanism and the hooks connecting it to the launching equipment. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.The Canadian Press
ATLANTA — After weathering criticism for certifying President Donald Trump's narrow election loss to Democrat Joe Biden, Republican officials in Georgia are proposing additional requirements for the state's vote-by-mail process, despite no evidence of systemic fraud or irregularities. Two state Senate committees held hearings Thursday to begin a review of Georgia’s voting laws. Republicans are zeroing in on a plan to require a photo ID for ballots cast by mail. Voting rights activists and Democrats argue that the change isn't necessary and would disenfranchise voters. Biden beat Trump by just over 12,500 votes in Georgia, with Biden receiving nearly twice as many of the record number of absentee ballots as the Republican president, according to the secretary of state's office. A recount requested by Trump was wrapping up and wasn't expected to change the overall outcome. Trump, who for months has sowed unsubstantiated doubt about the integrity of mail-in votes, has also made baseless claims of widespread fraud in the presidential race in Georgia. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his staff have vehemently rebuffed those claims, stating unequivocally that there is no evidence of systemic errors or fraud in last month's election. Yet Raffensperger and Gov. Brian Kemp, both Republicans who have been publicly lambasted by Trump, have joined the push to require a photo ID for absentee voting. “Voters casting their ballots in person must show a photo ID, and we should consider applying that same standard to mail-in balloting,” Kemp said in remarks streamed live online. Kemp faced accusations of voter suppression during his successful 2018 run for governor against Democrat Stacey Abrams, an election he oversaw as Georgia's previous secretary of state. He vehemently denied the allegations. Kemp faces reelection — and a possible rematch against Abrams — in 2022. Raffensperger also has suggested allowing state officials to intervene in counties that have systemic problems with administering elections and broadening the ways in which challenges can be posed to votes cast by residents who don’t live where they say. The photo ID idea has support among several members of the state legislature, including Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan. “I don't think there should be different standards for the same process,” Dugan said in an interview. Republican House Speaker David Ralston has been skeptical of voting by mail, telling a local news outlet in April that increased mail voting “will be extremely devastating to Republicans and conservatives in Georgia.” Political analysts have said that typically more Democrats than Republicans use mail-in ballots. Ralston later said he was not talking about his party losing an advantage but the potential for fraud. “We must do everything in our power to ensure votes are not stolen, cast fraudulently or plagued by administrative errors,” he said in a statement this week. Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs said in an interview with The Associated Press that currently anyone who knows someone’s name, address and date of birth can request an absentee ballot on that person’s behalf. She said that while signature matches provide some security for mail-in ballots, the process should be shored up. One way to do that could be to require a person's driver's license number or a photocopy of a separate form of ID, she said. “We need to secure all avenues that we can of absentee ballots so we never have a candidate run around this state again saying the election was stolen because of absentee ballots,” she said. While Republicans seem ready to press forward with the photo ID requirement during the upcoming legislative session, Democrats and civil rights organizations are raising alarms. With no evidence of widespread fraud or other problems in the election, it doesn’t make sense to talk about measures that could ultimately prove to be barriers to voting, said Andrea Young, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia. “What is the problem that you’re trying to solve?" she asked. “The rule should be first, ‘Do no harm’ when it comes to democracy, and whenever there are more restrictions being put on a process, you run the risk of disenfranchising Georgia citizens.” Young says adding a photo ID requirement for absentee voting would be harmful because “we know that these barriers have a different impact on African American voters, on younger voters and, in this instance, on seniors who have certainly earned the right” to vote. State Sen. Jen Jordan, an Atlanta Democrat, echoed Young’s concerns, saying Republicans were offering solutions in search of a problem. “What this says to me is that they just don’t want people voting," Jordan said. “And they specifically don’t want Democrats voting, or people that don’t support their chosen candidates voting, and they’re going to try to make it as hard as possible." Democrats and voting rights groups have for years sought to decrease rejections of absentee ballots in Georgia, arguing that minorities have been disproportionately affected. Absentee ballots are sometimes rejected because signatures on the outer envelope are deemed not to match signatures in the voter registration system, or because the envelope is not signed at all. An agreement signed in March to settle a lawsuit filed by the Democratic Party spells out a standard process that must be used statewide to judge the signatures. That agreement has been the subject of much of Trump's online ire, and he has incorrectly said it “makes it impossible to check & match signatures on ballots and envelopes.” Ben Nadler And Kate Brumback, The Associated Press
Former Atlanta City Council member Kwanza Hall was sworn in to the House of Representatives on Thursday. Hall won a runoff election to briefly fill the seat in Congress of the late civil rights legend John Lewis. (Dec. 3)
The Commissioner of Yukon has announced this year's inductees to the Order of Yukon.In a news release sent Wednesday, Commissioner Angélique Bernard gave the names of the ten inductees from the territory who were chosen from nominations submitted to an advisory council. "2020 inductees were chosen for their demonstrated excellence and achievement and their outstanding contributions to the social, cultural or economic well-being of Yukon and its residents," the release states. This year's recipients include:Bess Cooley, who is known as a master of the Tlingit language, and has done significant work on the genealogy of the inland Tlingit. Keith Byram, known for being a big supporter of multiple community organizations and working with many local businesses in Yukon. Byram founded Pelly Construction and employs a large number of Yukoners.Doug Phillips, who served as an MLA from 1985 to 2000, and then as the territory's commissioner from 2010 to 2018. He lobbied to have the Taylor House in Whitehorse designated as Yukon's Government House. Philips has also been small-business owner, and a volunteer on many Yukon boards and committees. Jack Cable, a Liberal MLA from 1992 to 2000, and commissioner of Yukon from 2000 to 2005. He has also been involved in volunteer organizations including the Learning Disabilities Association of Yukon and the Law Society of Yukon.William Klassen, who has worn many hats in his career, including as an RCMP officer in Teslin, a conservation officer, a wildlife biologist, and deputy minister with the Yukon government. He has also been involved with the Riverdale Baptist Church since the early 1970's, the Whitehorse Gun Club, Yukon Agriculture Association and the Salvation Army. Frances Woolsey, a respected Ta'an Kwäch'än elder and a leader in promoting Indigenous culture. Dr. Sally MacDonald, who has been a family physician in Whitehorse and several Yukon communities since 1980, delivering over 1,000 babies in the territory. She has also taken on the role of assisting people at the end of their lives. Gertie Tom, who has contributed to First Nations language revitalization throughout the territory. She used the details of her speech patterns to provide a basis for a practical writing system for the previously-unwritten Northern Tutchone language. From 1961 to 1965, she worked as a part-time translator and broadcaster for CBC Radio in Whitehorse.Agnes Mills, a Vuntut Gwitchin elder who has worked to advance the rights of Indigenous people as the National Elder of the Thunderbird Partnership Foundation, and was the First Nations elder at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. The Honourable Ron Veale who was the first to have the title of Chief Justice of Yukon, and initiated the earliest civil actions about the abuses suffered by Indigenous children in residential schools. The commissioner's office says it will be posting a video recognizing this year's recipients on its Facebook page on Jan. 1.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A female volunteer who regularly feeds big cats was bitten and seriously injured by a tiger Thursday morning at Carole Baskin’s Big Cat Rescue sanctuary in Florida, which was made famous by the Netflix series “Tiger King,” officials said.Hillsborough County Fire Rescue received a trauma alert call about 8:30 a.m. Thursday from the sanctuary, agency spokesman Eric Seidel told The Associated Press.Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, said in an email to the AP that the volunteer, Candy Couser, was feeding a tiger named Kimba when she noticed the animal was not in his usual location. Baskin said Couser opened a gate that had been clipped shut but she reached in to unclip it.“This is our universal signal NOT to open a gate” without assistance, Baskin said. “It is against our protocols for anyone to stick any part of their body into a cage with a cat in it.”“Kimba grabbed her arm and nearly tore it off at the shoulder,” Baskin added.Couser was taken to a hospital for treatment of serious injuries after staff and other volunteers at Big Cat Rescue sought to stop the bleeding, Baskin said.Kimba will be placed in quarantine for the next 30 days, but Baskin said the tiger was “just acting normal due to the presence of food and the opportunity.” Baskin said Couser did not want Kimba to suffer any consequences for the incident.The sanctuary was founded by Baskin and Don Lewis in the 1990s and is a prominent animal sanctuary. Lewis disappeared in 1997.The incident came the same day the U.S. House is to vote on a bill, the Big Cat Public Safety Act, championed by Baskin that would ban handling of big cat cubs and personal possession of them in places such as backyards.“This sort of tragedy can happen in the blink of an eye and we cannot relax our guard for a second around these dangerous cats,” Baskin said.“Tiger King", which debuted in March, was a documentary series about Joseph Maldonado-Passage, also known as “Joe Exotic,” an eccentric former Oklahoma zookeeper who loves big cats.Maldonado-Passage was sentenced to 22 years in prison earlier this year for his role in a murder-for-hire plot. He was convicted of trying to hire someone to kill Baskin, who had tried to shut him down, accusing the Oklahoma zoo of abusing animals and selling big cat cubs.In retaliation, Maldonado-Passage raised questions about Baskin’s former husband, Lewis. The documentary extensively covered Maldonado-Passage’s repeated accusations that Baskin killed her husband and possibly fed him to her tigers. Baskin has not been charged with any crime and has repeatedly released statements refuting the accusations made in the series.___Frisaro reported from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.Curt Anderson And Freida Frisaro, The Associated Press
TORONTO — One of the first things Alexandher Brandy wanted to do after reading Elliot Page's coming out letter was break into a dance.The urge to celebrate the Oscar-nominated performer's announcement was undeniable. So as the business day ended at his retail job in the city's Gay Village, the Toronto artist gave in to the sensation.“I don't know what energy I had, but I was literally just running around a store that was completely empty — dancing,” he said.Someone as famous as Page saying they are transgender (using the pronouns he/they) and non-binary, meaning their gender identity is neither man nor woman, is almost unheard of. Page's message was heartfelt, written with a mixture of confidence and vulnerability that many in the community feel about sharing their own story with others.For Brandy, who is trans masculine, it was validation. "I'm just excited to have someone that I can be like, 'Hey, that's a famous person and people are going to understand me more because this person is like me,'" Brandy added."It's so weird that still exists in our world."Later this month, Brandy plans to throw an unofficial coming out party for Page over a Twitch live stream, called the House Royale, with trans and non-binary entertainers filling the evening. It's a way for the community to hold this moment as their own, he said.But for many trans and non-binary Canadians, all the joy of Page's coming out is also built upon knowing this is merely an inch towards the goal of being recognized as equals in society.Those sentiments were shared this week as they read and re-read through Page’s social media letter, hanging onto every sentence.His words were at once certain and cautious, recognizing the harsh realities of trans people who don’t share the same privilege of celebrity.Luiza Alves, a musician based in Victoria, B.C., believes there’s reason to feel optimistic for whatever lies ahead. She said the non-binary community is “gaining a voice” and advocate in Page that has rarely, if ever, been present at this level of fame.“It’s another type of exposure. Another type of trans folk in the world," she said.But she knows from her own experience that sharing such a truth isn’t easy. It comes with endless questions from friends and family; people using their birth name rather than their chosen name, either by accident or on purpose; and these days figuring out what to share on social media. Page’s coming out will certainly be no different.“I wish I could hug them many, many times because it's going to be rough,” she said.“It's an ongoing process, but I think overall that's the beauty of accepting yourself for who you are. It’s going through this… and letting people around you start to discover it with you, be comfortable with you. I think it’s a beautiful, painful journey.”Faelix Kayn, a Toronto-based consultant, is more hesitant to start throwing confetti over the arrival of Page in the trans and non-binary community.While having a famous person bring new awareness is "wonderful," Kayn notes there are deep systemic issues and barriers affecting trans people, saying most of them don't receive nearly enough attention.Those include transphobia in homeless shelters, a problem that’s only worsened in the pandemic, Kayn said, as well as binary markers on some health and government documents.Kayn is also concerned with the invasive and sometimes negative curiosity that plays out on social media once someone of Page’s stature is involved.Shortly after the “Gaycation” and “Juno” star’s social media post, people were already speculating about personal topics such as the likelihood of a physical transition and whether he’s planning to start using hormones. All of those conversations can deeply affect individuals still grappling with their identity, Kayn added.“I'm thinking of the younger, not out, non-binary people seeing this and thinking, ‘Am I going to be subjected to this dehumanization? To this level of interrogation? Is it worth it?’” Kayn said.Gemma Hickey, an author based in St. John’s, N.L., has run through similar questions in their head over several decades of activism.Known for being the first Canadian to get a non-binary birth certificate in 2017, Hickey said it often feels isolating when there are few others who want to stand in the public spotlight as they push for change.“You're putting yourself at risk for having to defend your choice, your name or your pronouns, even having to look over your shoulder,” they said.“What Elliot coming out in a public way means for me and so many others is that you're not alone.” This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.David Friend, The Canadian Press
Editor's note: This story was first published on Nov. 4, 2020 Molded Precision Components is putting out the word. The Oro-Medonte company has produced millions of face shields designed to protect front-line workers against COVID-19. “We currently have a supply of two million face shields, and we have the capacity to produce up to five million a month. If you have a PPE shortfall, or anticipate you will soon have one, we should talk as soon as possible,” said David Yeaman, co-owner and president of Molded Precision Components. The Shield-U face shields were created with the help of Sterling Industries, a medical supply company. More than 27 million face shields will have been sold through federal and provincial government contracts by the end of the fall. The company is reaching out to help more customers as the second wave of the pandemic takes hold around the world. “Our face shields are available in high quantities and right now we’re able to deliver them fast. This product can help a lot of people during these times of crisis, and we're looking for partners to help,” said Andrew Bird, director of Strategic Business Development. Shield-U face shields are based on 40 years of medical device success. They are: • Manufactured in an FDA/Health Canada Registered facility. • A one-size-fits-all solution that will comfortably fit anyone from a child to an adult. • Suitable for all-day use. • Allows for additional PPE (safety glasses, goggles, N95 masks, etc). • Fog-resistant. • 100 per cent recyclable. Since 2006, when Yeaman and Thomas Woegerer purchased the assets of MPC, the company has grown from a small plastic injection moulding prototype shop with two employees in an 8,000-square-foot facility to 26,000 square feet of manufacturing space, offering solutions to automotive and medical injection moulded precision plastic with all services in house. When the COVID-19 global pandemic struck in March 2020, orders from the automotive sector essentially stopped for MPC. However, MPC saw an opportunity to collaborate with leading medical equipment contract manufacturer Sterling. Any organization with an urgent, or pending, need for large quantities of PPE and face shields is invited to contact Mark Smith, VP Global Sales, MPC at MSmith@mpccomponents.com.Rick Vanderlinde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
MADISON, Wis. — A divided Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday refused to hear President Donald Trump’s lawsuit attempting to overturn his loss to Democrat Joe Biden in the battleground state, sidestepping a decision on the merits of the claims and instead ruling that the case must first wind its way through lower courts.In another blow to Trump, two dissenting conservative justices questioned whether disqualifying more than 221,000 ballots as Trump wanted would be the proper remedy to the errors he alleged.The defeat on a 4-3 ruling was the latest in a string of losses for Trump’s post-election lawsuits. Judges in multiple battleground states have rejected his claims of fraud or irregularities.Trump asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to disqualify more than 221,000 ballots in the state’s two biggest Democratic counties, alleging irregularities in the way absentee ballots were administered. His lawsuit echoed claims that were earlier rejected by election officials in those counties during a recount that barely affected Biden’s winning margin of about 20,700 votes.Trump’s attorney Jim Troupis said he would immediately file the case in circuit court and expected to be back before the Supreme Court “very soon.”“It was clear from their writings that the court recognizes the seriousness of these issues, and we look forward to taking the next step,” he said in a statement. Trump's team made the filing late Thursday evening.In asking the conservative-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court to take the case directly, Trump had argued that there wasn’t enough time to wage the legal battle by starting with a lower court, given the looming Dec. 14 date when presidential electors cast their votes.Swing Justice Brian Hagedorn joined three liberal justices in denying the petition without weighing in on Trump's allegations. Hagedorn said the law was clear that Trump must start his lawsuit in lower courts where factual disputes can be worked out.“We do well as a judicial body to abide by time-tested judicial norms, even — and maybe especially — in high profile cases,” Hagedorn wrote. “Following this law is not disregarding our duty, as some of my colleagues suggest. It is following the law.”Trump filed a similar lawsuit in federal court on Wednesday.Chief Justice Patience Roggensack, in a dissent where she was joined by Justice Annette Ziegler, said she would have taken the case and referred it to lower courts for factual findings, which could then be reported back to the Supreme Court for a ruling.But she also questioned whether disqualifying ballots was appropriate, saying that "may be out of reach for a number of reasons.”Conservative Justice Rebecca Bradley wrote that the court “forsakes its duty” by not determining whether elections officials complied with the law and the inaction will undermine the public's confidence in elections. Allowing the elections commission to make the law governing elections would be a “death blow to democracy,” she wrote.“While some will either celebrate or decry the court's inaction based upon the impact on their preferred candidate, the importance of this case transcends the results of this particular election,” she wrote in a dissent joined by Roggensack and Ziegler. “The majority's failure to act leaves an indelible stain on our most recent election.”Democratic Gov. Tony Evers praised the decision.“I was frankly amazed that it was not unanimous," Evers said.Trump's lawsuit challenged procedures that have been in place for years and never been found to be illegal.He claimed there were thousands of absentee ballots without a written application on file. He argued that the electronic log created when a voter requests a ballot online — the way the vast majority are requested — doesn’t meet the letter of the law.He also challenged ballots where election clerks filled in missing address information on the certification envelope where the ballot is inserted — a practice that has long been accepted and that the state elections commission told clerks was OK.Trump also challenged absentee ballots where voters declared themselves to be “indefinitely confined,” a status that exempts them from having to show photo identification to cast a ballot, and one that was used much more heavily this year due to the pandemic. The Wisconsin Supreme Court in March ruled that it was up to individual voters to determine their status.Roggensack, the chief justice, appointed Reserve Judge Stephen Simanek of Racine County to hear the case at the circuit court level. Simanek retired in 2010.The court late Thursday also declined to hear a lawsuit brought by a Wisconsin resident, Dean Mueller, that argued that ballots placed in drop boxes are illegal and must not be counted. The court's brief order included a single line noting Roggensack, Ziegler and Bradley all dissented with the denial.One other lawsuit filed by conservatives is still pending with the court seeking to invalidate ballots. In federal court, there is Trump’s lawsuit and another one with similar claims from Sidney Powell, a conservative attorney who was removed from Trump’s legal team.Wisconsin this week certified Biden’s victory, setting the stage for a Democratic slate of electors chosen earlier to cast the state’s 10 electoral votes for him.Scott Bauer, The Associated Press
The Town of Paradise is looking for input from residents who might avail of an accessible transit system. Councillor Sterling Willis noted it is something that residents have been requesting. “We are now developing an accessible transit policy project… as a part of developing this pilot project, the Town will be hosting a focus group to seek input from potential users,” said Willis during Tuesday’s public council meeting. Participants in an upcoming focus group will be limited to Paradise residents who have disabilities or who have family members living in Paradise who have disabilities. The focus group, held over Zoom, will be held on December 10, with a real time ASL translator present. Those interested are asked to contact the Town by December 2. Though Metrobus offers some wheelchair accessible routes, the one Metrobus route which passes through Paradise is not accessible.Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News
Here are the highlights from Arrow Lakes School District 10 Superintendent Terry Taylor’s report to trustees at the November 17 board meeting. • COVID-19 has been hard on all aspects of the education system, but it’s put extra pressure on staff who clean facilities to ensure they’re safe. To meet new, higher cleaning regulations, the school district added additional cleaning hours to the schedules of custodians and bus drivers, and changed schedules to have custodians start during the school day. “Though intended to solve the emergent problem, the change of hours to during the school day has caused some unintended consequences for our custodians: additional workload and stress to get to cleaning floors and other regular maintenance/ cleaning tasks done while students and staff are in buildings,” Taylor reported to the board. After a review of the issue, the district has put in place some steps to help overloaded custodians: some workers’ hours will be changed back to after school, while additional staff will be hired to clean ‘high touch’ areas during the day; misting devices have been purchased to support high-touch area cleaning in schools and busses; PPE (personal protective equipment) is being provided for use voluntarily by cleaning staff; and staff and students will help by stacking chairs after class to help make disinfection faster and easier. The district will continue to monitor how the tweaks to the system are helping staff keep the facilities safe and clean. • It’s the final 1% of the job that takes up the other 99% of the time. A few “last moment hiccups” have stalled the opening of the new Goat Mountain Child Care Centre in New Denver. While almost complete for more than two months now, licencing officials still have small concerns that needed addressing. Taylor says she’s confident, however, the building will finally be open on November 30. A grand opening with all the dignitaries, COVID permitting, is planned soon. • As work wraps up with one daycare, plans on the second one are underway. The Nakusp Child Care Centre, planned for the local elementary school, is set to open in May 2022. Right now design plans are being finalized, as are plans for demolition of two portables at the school to make way for the daycare. Demolition should take place early in the new year, and a safety assessment has found only “small and isolated amount of asbestos” around one sink, and lead in the portables’ exterior paint. • The school district is proud of its work getting students to learn outdoors, and it’s been noticed by its peers. SD 10 was recognized by other West Kootenay districts for having the most students per capita who’ll be learning outside this year. A Nakusp Elementary teacher who signed up for an outside learning conference also has reason to celebrate. Marsha Roberts won a $500 prize from the Take Me Outside for Learning (TMOL) program. The money can be used at the new online Outdoor Learning Store to enhance her class’ outdoor experience. • Ottawa continues to support local school districts adjust to the world of teaching during a pandemic. Superintendent Taylor says federal Safe Return to Class Funding - $150,000 now and further $150,000 in new year – can be spent on learning resources and supports, health and safety, transportation, and before- and after-school childcare. Taylor says the money has been allocated for an additional Distance Learning teacher and clerical time to manage the larger number of students taking distributed learning courses this year. Some of the money will go to additional mental health supports for students, enhanced cleaning supplies and equipment, routing software for more efficient bussing, and for arts and recreation activities for before- and after-school care. John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice
Air Design location, Ballon Design et les Gâteaux MB se réuniront sous le même toit à compter de janvier. Une préouverture ponctuelle est prévue dès jeudi, afin de permettre aux gens de se procurer décorations et cadeaux juste avant le début du temps des Fêtes. Les trois entreprises voulaient, en se réunissant, offrir aux clients la possibilité de ne faire qu’un seul arrêt pour l’organisation de leur événement spécial. Selon Jennifer Fournier, propriétaire de Ballon Design, ce partenariat est unique dans la région et très rare dans la province. « On s’est rendu compte qu’avec des ballons, des jeux gonflables, des gâteaux et des petits cadeaux, ça faisait vraiment un beau ‘mix’. Le concept qu’on a voulu créer, c’est vraiment d’avoir tout pour un événement, sous un même toit », s’est réjouie la propriétaire de Ballon Design. En parlant avec Mélina Dubé-Boily, de Gâteaux MB, les deux femmes ont remarqué qu’elles partageaient beaucoup de clients en commun. L’ouverture est prévue jeudi. Pour débuter, le commerce n’ouvrira que ponctuellement. L’ouverture complète à temps plein avec l’arrivée de la pâtissière n’est à l’horaire qu’au retour des Fêtes. Jennifer souhaite tout de même ouvrir dès le début du mois afin de faire profiter les clients des cadeaux et des ballons pour les préparations du temps des Fêtes. Le commerce d’Air Design location est ouvert, et il est possible pour les intéressés de voir l’inventaire en ligne. Pour ce qui est des Gâteaux MB, même si l’arrivée de la pâtissière à temps plein n’aura lieu qu’en janvier, les clients pourront venir chercher leurs gâteaux précommandés sur place. De tout en boutique Chaque entreprise qui s’installera dans ce nouveau local situé au 1247 boulevard Ste-Geneviève, à Chicoutimi-Nord, dispose d’une impressionnante gamme de produits. Air Design location a dans son inventaire plus de 125 structures gonflables, de toute sorte. Pour Gateaux MB, on comptera évidemment des gâteaux, mais aussi de gros biscuits, des cupcakes, et bien plus. Ballon Design se spécialise dans les bouquets de ballons et les petits cadeaux. Son créneau est le ballon personnalisé. « Je voulais faire quelque chose de différent de ce qu’on retrouvait déjà. Avec les ballons personnalisés, je peux écrire des prénoms, des phrases ou même recréer des dessins sur des ballons, ce qui est vraiment apprécié des clients », souligne Jennifer. Elle est fière d’amener ce concept ici dans la région et encore plus à Chicoutimi-Nord. Impacts de la Covid Bien évidemment, les derniers mois ont été difficiles pour tous ceux qui oeuvrent dans l’événementiel. L’annulation des fêtes, des mariages, des partys de bureau a difficilement touché le commerce de Jennifer. La jeune femme de 30 ans a dû se réinventer. « Nous nous sommes vraiment tournés vers les livraisons. Nous sommes allés livrer des petites touches de bonheur chez les gens. Plus ça allait, plus les gens me demandaient si j’avais des petits items cadeaux, qu’on pouvait joindre aux ballons », explique-t-elle. C’est ce qui fait que depuis environ un mois, on retrouve dans la boutique en ligne des cadeaux de tout genre : jouets pour enfants, produits pour le corps, items pour la maison, et bien plus. Certaines de ces surprises peuvent même être mises dans des ballons ! Ces produits seront bien sûr mis en valeur dans la nouvelle boutique. Pour tout savoir sur les heures d’ouverture et sur les items que l’on retrouve en boutique, les personnes intéressées peuvent visiter le site Internet ou la page Facebook de Ballon Design.Myriam Arsenault, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
Local business owners want customers to know that they can shop online this Christmas, and still support Slocan Valley stores. And there’s an ever-growing choice of local shops whose wares are available online. From clothing and gourmet foods, to jewellery or knitting supplies, more businesses popping up in the Slocan are counting on locals buying online this season. “There’s a lot of social media action for shopping local, there’s a lot of energy that way this year,” says Beth Campbell, who runs the Lemon Creek-based Viva Cacao! “You don’t need to go to Amazon, you can shop here.” Campbell started Viva Cacao! about 18 months ago, though the chocolatier operated at a smaller scale for several years before that. She’s been having success getting her product into local groceries and convenience shops, but says the more she can sell direct, the better it is for her company. “I’m excited to be able to sell retail, for one, because now I can’t sell at markets,” she says. “It’s a good platform to talk about my product and what we do here, and it’s hopefully a place where I can talk about issues in our industry, things I care about and am passionate about.” Campbell says after a slow summer start, orders began coming in steadily in November. For customers who go to her website (https://vivacacao.ca), it’s a simple process to buy her products, and ship them to whomever you want. “I definitely ship anywhere, and I just figured out how to have a local pickup option so people can pick up and not pay shipping. People can contact me, and we can work out pickup. If it’s in Nelson or the valley, I can bring it in when I come in.” Brendan Murray-Nellis just started his Raven Roast business this year in Slocan, after the pandemic shut down his acupuncture practice. His online business – marketing his own herbal coffee substitute – is also just getting off the ground, and he has invested heavily in building his sales online. “It’s always interesting to see where our customers come from,” says Murray-Nellis. “We’ve been getting orders from across the United States and Canada.” Murray-Nellis says with so many people staying home and avoiding crowds, it’s important to support local creators online. “This year it’s absolutely critical to go out of our way to support local businesses. There’s a lot of small businesses that are suffering, and it’s this moment we can decide as a community whether we are going to give our money to all these online companies to do our Christmas shopping, or work with local people,” he says. While distant orders help, Murray-Nellis hopes locals will reach out and support companies like his. Raven Roast (https://ravenroast.com/) is offering free shipping anywhere for anyone ordering online in the Valley Voice readership area. “We’re going out of our way to make it easy to shop local,” he says. “We don’t have to give our money to big companies. We’re trying our best to be an easy interface you can both support local and have all the convenience of online.” Online Christmas market The loss of Christmas markets in most communities due to COVID restrictions has been one of the latest hurts caused by the pandemic, affecting both buyers and sellers. But soon there’ll be a way to enjoy the fun and excitement of a Christmas Market from your laptop. Morgen Badarti is an artist in New Denver who’s started ‘Handmade Heart,’ a virtual online market, planned for December 5-13 on Facebook Events. She’s spent years helping organize real-world craft fairs in the area, and decided to use her connections in the community to try to help craftspeople sell their products. At first she said people she contacted about an online event were reticent. “That’s because we love selling in person, don’t we? That’s why we do it, why we participate in festivals and markets and shows, because we love selling our own work, and meeting people in person. And people like that too. But unfortunately we can’t do that right now.” The Homemade Heart Market will encourage people to come to the Facebook Event, browse that page and visit individual seller’s sites. There’ll be prizes and treasure hunts and other side events to generate visits. “I really hope that people support this, it’s so important to these artisans,” she says. “They have nowhere else to sell their stuff. It’s difficult to sell in stores, it’s not easy to make your craft and sell in a store. And I worry about their survival as artistans. They’re making useful and beautiful, functional things.” And if you buy online from one of the vendors, Badarti has arranged for a delivery day after the event, when a vehicle will drive from the Junction to Nakusp, delivering products to buyers’ doors. “And you get free shipping that way,” she says. Depending on how everything works, Badarti says they’ll keep the market page open after Christmas, and perhaps have an ongoing place for local artisans to connect with buyers. See the ad for the market on page 11 and follow the links we’ve added on the Valley Voice Facebook page to learn more about the market, the participating companies, and more.John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice
WASHINGTON — China poses the greatest threat to America and the rest of the free world since World War II, outgoing National Intelligence Director John Ratcliffe said Thursday as the Trump administration ramps up anti-Chinese rhetoric to pressure President-elect Joe Biden to be tough on Beijing.“The intelligence is clear: Beijing intends to dominate the U.S. and the rest of the planet economically, militarily and technologically,” Ratcliffe wrote in an op-ed published Thursday in The Wall Street Journal. “Many of China’s major public initiatives and prominent companies offer only a layer of camouflage to the activities of the Chinese Communist Party.”“I call its approach of economic espionage ‘rob, replicate and replace,'" Ratcliffe said. “China robs U.S. companies of their intellectual property, replicates the technology and then replaces the U.S. firms in the global marketplace.”Trump administration officials have been stepping up their anti-China rhetoric for months, especially during the presidential campaign as President Donald Trump sought to deflect blame for the spread of the coronavirus . On the campaign trail, Trump warned that Biden would go easy on China, although the president-elect agrees that China is not abiding by international trade rules, is giving unfair subsidies to Chinese companies and stealing American innovation.The Trump administration, which once boasted of warm relations with China's President Xi Jinping, also has been ramping up sanctions against China over Taiwan, Tibet, trade, Hong Kong and the South China Sea. It has moved against the Chinese telecoms giant Huawei and sought restrictions on Chinese social media applications like TikTok and WeChat.China’s embassy in the U.S. did not respond to a request for comment on Ratcliffe’s op-ed, although China has routinely denied many of these allegations in the past.Ratcliffe, a Trump loyalist who has been accused of politicizing the position, has been the nation's top intelligence official since May. In his op-ed, he did not directly address the transition to a Biden administration. Trump has not acknowledged losing the election.Ratcliffe said he has shifted money within the $85 billion annual intelligence budget to address the threat from China. Beijing is preparing for an open-ended confrontation with the U.S., which must be addressed, he said.“This is our once-in-a-generation challenge. Americans have always risen to the moment, from defeating the scourge of fascism to bringing down the Iron Curtain,” Ratcliffe wrote in what appeared to be call for action to future intelligence officials.Biden has announced that he wants the Senate to confirm Avril Haines, a former deputy director of the CIA, to succeed Ratcliffe as the next national intelligence director.“This generation will be judged by its response to China’s effort to reshape the world in its own image and replace America as the dominant superpower," Ratcliffe wrote.He cited several examples of Chinese aggression against the United States:The Justice Department has charged a rising number of U.S. academics for transferring U.S. taxpayer-funded intellectual property to China.He noted the theft of intellectual property from American businesses, citing the case of Sinoval, a China-based wind turbine maker, which was convicted and heavily fined for stealing trade secrets from AMSC, a U.S.-based manufacturer formerly known as American Superconductor Inc. Rather than pay AMSC for more than $800 million in products and services it had agreed to purchase, Sinovel hatched a scheme to steal AMSC’s proprietary wind turbine technology, causing the loss of almost 700 jobs and more than $1 billion in shareholder equity, according to the Justice Department.Ratcliffe and other U.S. officials have said that China has stolen sensitive U.S. defence technology to fuel Xi's aggressive military modernization plan and they allege that Beijing uses its access to Chinese tech firms, such as Huawei, to collect intelligence, disrupt communications and threaten the privacy of users worldwide.Ratcliffe said he has personally briefed members of Congress about how China is using intermediaries to lawmakers in an attempt to influence legislation.Deb Riechmann, The Associated Press
1. “Ready Player Two” by Ernest Cline (Ballantine) 2. “Deadly Cross” by James Patterson (Little, Brown) 3. “The Awakening” by Nora Roberts (St. Martin's Press) 4. “The Return” by Nicholas Sparks (Grand Central Publishing) 5. “Daylight” by David Baldacci (Grand Central Publishing) 6. “A Time for Mercy” by John Grisham (Doubleday) 7. “The Law of Innocence” by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown) 8. “Rhythm of War” by Brandon Sanderson (Tor) 9. “The Sentinel” by Child/Child (Delacorte) 10. “Fortune and Glory” by Janet Evanovich (Atria) 11. “The Vanishing Half” by Brit Bennett (Riverhead) 12. “All That Glitters” by Danaielle Steel (Delacorte) 13. “Tom Clancy Shadow of the Dragon” by Marc Cameron (G.P. Putnam’s Sons) 14. “Anxious People” by Fredrik Backman (Atria) 15. “The Invisible Life of Addie Larue” by V.E. Schwab (Tor) HARDCOVER NONFICTION 1. “A Promised Land” by Barack Obama (Crown) 2. “Greenlights” by Matthew McConaughey (Crown) 3. “Modern Warriors” by Pete Hegseth (Broadside) 4. “The Happy in a Hurry Cookcook” by Doocy/Doocy (William Morrow) 5. “Modern Comfort Food” by Ina Garten (Clarkson Potter) 6. “Dolly Parton, Songteller” by Dolly Parton (Chronicle) 7. “Stuff You Should Know” by Clark/Bryant (Flatiron) 8. “Dungeons & Dragons: Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything” (Wizards of the Coast) 9. “No Time Like the Future” by Michael J. Fox (Flatiron) 10. “Forgiving What You Can’t Forgive” by Lysa TerKeurst (Thomas Nelson) 11. “Guinness World Records 2021” (Guinness World Records) 12. “Humans” by Brandon Stanton (St. Martin's Press) 13. “Saving Freedom” by Joe Scarborough (Harper) 14. “Caste” by Isabel Wilkerson (Random House) 15. “Untamed” by Glennon Doyle (Dial Press) MASS MARKET PAPERBACKS 1. “Sunrise Cabin” by Stacey Donovan (Hallmark) 2. “The River Murders” by Patterson/Born (Grand Central Publishing) 3. “Wyoming True” by Diana Palmer (HQN) 4. “Leopard’s Rage” by Christine Feehan (Berkley) 5. “A Christmas Message” by Debbie Macomber (Mira) 6. “When You See Me” by Lisa Gardner (Dutton) 7. “Spy” by Danielle Steel (Dell) 8. “A MacGregor Christmas” by Nora Roberts (Silhouette) 9. “The Night Fire” by Michael Connelly (Grand Central Publishing) 10. “Spirit of the Season” by Fern Michaels (Zebra) 11. “Archangel's Sun” by Nalini Singh (Berkley) 12. “A MacCallister Christmas” by William W. Johnstone (Pinnacle) 13. “The Museum of Desire” by Jonathan Kellerman (Ballantine) 14. “The Christmas Backup Plan” by Lori Wilde (Avon) 15. “The Gift of Love” by Debbie Macomber (Mira) TRADE PAPERBACKS 1. “Home Body” by Rupi Kaur (Andrew McMeel) 2. “The Step-by-Step Instant Pot Cookbook” by Jeffrey Eisner (Voracious) 3. “Interesting Stories for Curious People” by Bill O’Neill (LAK) 4. “Shuggie Bain” by Douglas Stuart (Grove) 5. “Texas Outlaw” by Patterson/Bourelle (Grand Central Publishing) 6. “Air Fryer Cookbook” by Jenson William (Jenson William) 7. “Burn After Writing” (pink) by Sharon Jones (TarcherPerigee) 8. “The 19th Christmas” by Patterson/Paetro (Grand Central Publishing) 9. “Circe” by Madeline Miller (Back Bay) 10. “The Truths We Hold” by Kamala Harris (Penguin) 11. “The Institute” by Stephen King (Gallery) 12. “Hillbilly Elegy” (movie-tie-in) by J.D. Vance (Harper) 13. “The Diplomat's Wife” by Pam Jenoff (Park Row) 14. “Choose Joy” (Ink & Wiillow) 15. “Murder of Innocence” by James Patterson (Grand Central Publlishing) The Associated Press
Builders working in the Regional District of Central Kootenay will have to meet new energy-efficient construction standards starting in the new year. The RDCK’s board of directors voted last month to adopt the provincial Energy STEP Code as of December 31. Under Step 1, all new residential buildings have to have a certified energy advisor confirm its design meets the energy requirements of the current building code. Future steps will see buildings having to meet more and more requirements. The final step, Step 5, due to be introduced in 2032, will demand all new buildings to be net-zero in energy use. Step 1 is voluntary, but Step 3 will be provincially mandated in 2022. Staff have been recommending adopting the voluntary level of compliance for more than a year. “Not adopting Step 1 in December 2020 will inhibit the ability of builders and Building Officials to suitably prepare for the jump to Step 3 in 2022,” wrote Paul Faulkner, the RDCK’s Energy Specialist, in a report to the November 19 board meeting. “This lack of preparedness may increase the likelihood of failure to achieve compliance to the Step 3 for builders unfamiliar with the requirements, processes, and techniques to achieve Step 3.” If that happens, Faulkner warned home builders (and buyers) could see delays and extra costs to redo work that fails inspections, a shortage of trades workers familiar with the standards, inappropriate or inefficient systems being installed, and missed rebate opportunities to save construction costs. Cost not a concern Concerns have been raised around the perceived additional costs of Step Code and the impact on the affordability of homes within the RDCK. But Faulkner told directors research has showed Step 1 increases costs by less than 1%, and the next two steps only add another percentage point. “This finding suggests that improved energy efficiency and affordability can go hand-in-hand,” he wrote. The report also notes that more energy-efficient homes reduce homeowner costs, saving more money to be spent locally. Some areas of the RDCK have already adopted higher standards. The City of Nelson requires builders to construct housing to Step 3 standards, and Castlegar and Creston adopted Step 1 this fall. Mixed feelings But the board, which has debated the move for more than a year, was divided in its final vote. Nearly a third of the directors, many from the Slocan and Arrow Lakes, voted against the motion. “It’s my feeling out there the majority of people are tired of being told what to do, tired of government taking a heavy-hand approach and telling them what to do,” said New Denver board rep Colin Moss. “To me the Step Code is coming and we know it… it feels to me we’re being asked to do something the provincial government should be doing. Why should the provincial government not make Step 1 mandatory?” “I understand the desire for improved efficiency. But I will not give support for this because it’s the only option,” added Nakusp representative Joseph Hughes. “I think that improvements in building should be done through the Code book. “Ninety percent of our homes are pre-existing. If we want to improve efficiency, we should be looking at retrofitting old houses,” he continued. “I think it is restrictive, it’s another layer of oversight, and that always leads to more and more oversight of that layer, and I can’t get behind it for what it represents to the industry.” Even board Chair Aimee Watson, who ultimately voted in favour of the program, questioned if the industry had the capacity to serve the whole RDCK, especially in her more rural areas. “I signed up to the REEP program for an energy advisor… and it took me two years to get one,” she said. “… I don’t think our rural areas are ready. I have no issue with Step Code, I have an issue with early adoption before we are ready.” Watson said only some builders she’s spoken with in her Area D are familiar with the new requirements, and energy advisers are overwhelmed in the region just to meet current needs. “So what I hear is they’re not ready. And access to them – especially in the very north end of the lake – is very, very challenging. While I think capacity is sufficient for more centralized locations, what I’m hearing from builders at that end [of Kootenay Lake] is that the capacity is not yet there.” But the majority of directors felt it was important the RDCK get moving on preparing for higher steps. “We’ve have had this in place in the City of Nelson for some time,” said Nelson rep Janice Morrison, who moved adoption. “We’ve had only positive feedback from builders in our area.” “It’s not new, it’s not out of the blue, much of it is common sense,” said Area A Director Garry Jackman, who seconded the motion. “I don’t look at this as much as early adoption as putting in place incrementally the education, instead of just hitting the wall and all of a sudden you’re at Step 3. I don’t see this as harmful.” In the end, the motion passed. But Hughes, Moss, Area K Director Paul Peterson and Area H Director Walter Popoff – all from the Arrow Lakes/ Slocan Valley – and two other directors were in opposition. John Boivin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Valley Voice
The Yukon government, City of Whitehorse and advocacy group WildWise Yukon are working on a new pilot project to test bear-resistant garbage bins.The carts could be going out to homes in the city and other communities as early as next month, said Heather Ashthorn, the executive director of WildWise.The advocacy group has long lobbied for bins that could help prevent human-bear conflicts.Two years ago, WildWise and the city were testing different types of bear-resistant residential garbage carts to see if any of them would fit in with Whitehorse's garbage and compost pickup system. One of those models, made by Rehrig Pacific, seems to fit the bill, Ashthorn said this week.She said the only difference from the city's current carts is that Rehrig Pacific's have a locking device which is easy to unlock manually, and automatically unlocks when it's hoisted up by a garbage truck."They have to be up in the air and upside down and then the weight of the garbage inside, and the gravity — the locks have a little kind of pendulum, a little gravity mechanism in them," she said."So when they're inverted, the latch opens."She said 100 of the carts will be purchased, with 80 to be used in Whitehorse and 20 going to rural areas.Decisions still have to be made about which homes should get the bins and whether they'll be for garbage or compost use, said Ashthorn.The territorial government has information about areas where bears have most frequently been attracted by garbage, Ashthorn said.Bears will go where they can get food, she said, but it will take time before there's enough evidence to determine if bear-resistant bins make a difference.Reports of conflict between humans and bears in Yukon hit a five-year high in 2017, according to the territorial government, with at least 63 of the animals being killed that year.That number had dropped to 33 bears destroyed in 2019 which the government said then was more typical.Ashthorn is hoping the bins can be ordered this month and then arrive in January.The California-based company is offering a discount on the bins to see how the locking device on them works in winter weather, she said."Any system will have some maintenance issues. So we do need a cold testing season for that. We're hoping we don't have to wait until next year," said Ashthorn."So our goal right now is to order sometime in December, probably have them here in January," she said.