Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe announced that effective Thursday, no more than five people will be allowed to gather inside a home and masks will be mandatory province-wide.
Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe announced that effective Thursday, no more than five people will be allowed to gather inside a home and masks will be mandatory province-wide.
Vendredi dernier, le quotidien Le Journal de Québec a publié l’annonce du retour de l’éolien dans la ligne de mire d’Hydro-Québec pour 2021. Le député de Matane-Matapédia Pascal Bérubé a réagi à cette nouvelle, qu’il définit de majeure pour la région dans un contexte de relance économique du Québec. Le chef parlementaire du Parti québécois a d’ailleurs validé l’article journalistique auprès du gouvernement, dont le ministre des Ressources naturelles, Jonatan Julien, qui lui a confirmé l’intérêt renouvelé de New York pour l’électricité verte du Québec. « Cette nouvelle est importante pour nous, alors qu’elle tend à démontrer un virage du gouvernement de la CAQ sur le développement de l’éolien », a répété Pascal Bérubé. Il réitère que cette relance ouvrira des portes pour le Bas-Saint-Laurent et la Gaspésie. « Il y a également la possibilité d’exploiter d’autres filières pour s’assurer de notre sécurité énergétique », a-t-il rappelé. Des négociations sont en cours pour remettre le projet d’Apuiat sur les rails, ce même projet sur lesquels les élus régionaux misaient pour la survie de Marmen dans l’Est. Pascal Bérubé a doublement confirmé que le premier projet serait Apuiat. « Nous n’avons pas d’échéancier évidemment, mais le gouvernement du Québec me confirme qu’il y a une volonté d’aller de l’avant avec l’éolien, ce qui est majeur dans les circonstances. » Et pour le Parti québécois, cela se traduirait en un éventuel appel d’offres pour un projet de l’Alliance de l’Est. Selon le Parti québécois, l’Alliance de L’Est rapporterait pour l’ensemble des communautés de la région et permettrait la consolidation d’emplois chez Marmen, entre autres. « On ne sait pas si ce sera suffisant à court terme pour relancer Marmen », a toutefois précisé M. Bérubé. « D’autant plus que le coût a considérablement diminué ces dernières années, mais ça on le savait déjà. C’est le gouvernement de la CAQ qui a tardé à le réaliser. » Selon lui, les communautés locales pourraient bénéficier de retombées sur plusieurs décennies. « C’est l’ensemble des communautés de notre territoire qui vont chercher des revenus supplémentaires. De plus, le couplage de l’éolien et de l’hydroélectricité est une bonne combinaison d’énergies vertes », a-t-il lancé. Le Parti québécois suivra le dossier de près. Les députés péquistes continuent d’espérer un appui formel de la part du gouvernement québécois. Ils ont publiquement demandé à la ministre responsable du Bas-Saint-Laurent et de la Gaspésie, Marie-Eve Proulx, de porter ce projet au conseil des ministres, qui pourrait apporter une fortune à ces régions et étant « très faisable », a noté Pascal Bérubé. « Ce serait une des plus belles annonces qu’on pourrait faire dans les prochaines années », a-t-il affirmé.Claudie Arseneault, Initiative de journalisme local, Mon Matane
Pour arriver à la Côte-Nord, il faut rouler des heures et des heures vers l’est. Ensuite, un contrôle routier nous attend. Avant d’embarquer sur le traversier direction Tadoussac, deux policiers s’arrêtent à chaque véhicule. « Qu’est-ce que vous allez faire sur la Côte-Nord ? » demandent-ils à chaque automobiliste, décourageant ceux qui s’y rendraient par plaisir. La mesure n’est que préventive, mais elle fait partie du plan que chapeaute le médecin-conseil de la Direction de la santé publique de la Côte-Nord, le Dr Richard Fachehoun. Visage des conférences de presse pandémiques nord-côtières, Richard Fachehoun peut aujourd’hui se réjouir du bilan provisoire de sa région. À ce jour, pour 90 000 Nord-Côtiers, les autorités ne recensent que 200 cas de COVID-19 et 2 décès. La région est une des seules régions du Québec, avec l’Abitibi, les Îles-de-la-Madeleine, le Nunavik et une partie de la Baie-James, à demeurer une « zone jaune ». Le chapelet de villages étendu sur plus de 1300 kilomètres de côte offre un avantage certain, admet le Dr Fachehoun. « La densité de la population est faible. Mais, le principal, c’est vraiment le rôle que joue la population. Si on veut contrôler la situation, c’est la population qui va la contrôler. » Originaire du Bénin, l’homme à l’œil vif a dû longtemps cheminer avant d’en arriver à ce poste stratégique. D’abord médecin généraliste en Afrique de l’Ouest, à « [prendre] en charge des patients atteints de VIH », il arrive dans la belle province en 2008. Entre Montréal et Québec en passant par Gatineau, il obtient ses équivalences québécoises avant de s’établir sur la Côte-Nord, il y a trois ans. La neige « qui fait disparaître les maisons » n’a pas manqué de le surprendre, ni les innombrables sentiers pour combler son besoin de course à pied. « Courir, c’est passionnant. Quoique ces derniers mois, non, parce que les gens parlent beaucoup des ours qui se retrouvent sur la piste cyclable… mais c’est passionnant ! » « Passionnant » aussi que de travailler avec les Autochtones, dit-il. Une passion qui s’est transformée en défi lorsque la COVID-19 a forcé la mise en place d’une « cellule innue ». En début de crise, la haute direction du CISSS s’est réunie avec les élus locaux pour protéger ces milieux tissés serrés. « [Les élus innus] avaient des réponses à tout. Ils étaient proactifs », salue le Dr Fachehoun. Rapidement, des points de contrôle bloquent l’entrée de villages à tous les non-résidents. Puis, des enquêtes épidémiologiques « faites en collaboration avec les services de santé des communautés autochtones » tiennent la pandémie en échec chez les quelque 15 000 Innus de la région. Autre défi pour l’équipe du Dr Richard Fachehoun : le fly in fly out ou, autrement dit, le navettage des travailleurs dans les mines dispersées sur le territoire. Pour assurer le contrôle sanitaire de ces industries jugées essentielles par Québec, les minières ont établi des plans : des cycles de travail plus longs, un nettoyage des navettes aériennes et des mesures d’isolement. « Toutes les minières ont été visitées », assure le Dr Fachehoun. Pour les autres recoins d’autant plus isolés, comme Schefferville, Anticosti ou la Basse-Côte-Nord, l’absence de lien terrestre avec le Québec complique l’offre de soins. Pour prévenir toute éclosion, un isolement est imposé aux voyageurs, doublé d’un test de dépistage au premier et au septième jour après leur arrivée sur place. La logistique du dépistage sur ce territoire de 236 000 kilomètres carrés n’a pas non plus été de tout repos. « Au départ, toutes les analyses étaient faites à Rimouski », explique Richard Fachehoun. Avant que l’échantillon ne traverse le fleuve et que le patient connaisse le résultat, cinq jours pouvaient alors s’écouler. Après avoir mis au point un protocole d’analyse sur place, les résultats sont maintenant connus dans un délai de 24 heures, se félicite le médecin. N’empêche, il encense surtout son équipe pour avoir convaincu les Nord-Côtiers de l’importance des gestes barrières, comme la distanciation physique. « C’est la population qui a le rôle déterminant. Si la population respecte les mesures, on n’aura pas de cas », rappelle-t-il, bien au fait que « les gens sont habitués à faire des “collures” ». Cette « chaleur humaine », qu’il tente à regret de dissoudre chez ses concitoyens, l’avait pourtant bien charmé lors de sa première visite sur la Côte-Nord. À l’époque, il se souvient s’être fait interroger en pleine rue par une citoyenne, curieuse de voir un nouveau visage. « Automatiquement, j’ai fait le parallèle », raconte-t-il. « À Montréal, tout le monde se dépasse. À Québec, sur la piste cyclable ou bien quand on fait de la course, on se salue. Mais ce qui frappe sur la Côte-Nord, les gens t’arrêtent pour te parler. C’est plus inclusif. C’est un petit milieu. »Jean-Louis Bordeleau, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Devoir
Canada's main share index is set to extend its rally over the coming year as the likely rollout of a COVID-19 vaccine bolsters prospects for the economically sensitive financial and resource stocks that dominate the index, a Reuters poll found. "The run-up in stocks will likely not end in 2021 as (U.S.) stimulus likely comes early in the new year, vaccines start to get distributed in the second half of the year and most companies go back to normal in the latter part of 2021," said Sadiq Adatia, chief investment officer at Sun Life Global Investments. A vaccine rollout would "benefit Canada more than most countries because of the large proportion of value and cyclical stocks on the TSX," said Matt Skipp, president of SW8 Asset Management.
Despite a global pandemic, Victoria, B.C., is still one of the best "small cities" in the world, according to UK-based magazine Monocle.The magazine, which explores urban culture around the world, looked at cities with fewer than 250,000 people for their second annual Small Cities Index. The cities chosen were described as "well-connected cities that offer great business opportunities, a welcoming culture and access to nature."According to the index, Victoria placed No. 5, making a significant jump from 16 just a year ago. Porto, Portugal, took top honours followed by Leuven, Belgium; Itoshima, Japan; and Lucerne, Switzerland. Tomos Lewis, the Toronto bureau chief for Monocle, says the charm of a small city is not feeling lost in an anonymous metropolis."From having spoken to people from a variety of sectors who have lived in Victoria either for a long time or just moved there, that kind of intimacy comes part and parcel with moving to a city like Victoria," said Lewis to host Kathryn Marlow on CBC's All Points West.Cities were graded according to accessibility to international travellers, having "a good, progressive mayor," access to nature and for being warm and welcoming. Ratings also incorporated sustainability, environmentally conscious planning and opportunities for business. The magazine had compliments for Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps who it said "introduced initiatives to encourage young Canadians and foreigners to relocate here" such as free bus passes for children and bike lanes across the city. It also praised the city's diversifying economy, specifically noting its financial-services and ocean-research sectors, and its literary and food scene.Victoria has seen its fair share of challenges during the global pandemic including increased homelessness, a devastating shut-down of its tourism sector and rising housing costs."We do feel that all cities have their challenges that are particular to that place in question. But we don't think that those should always totally overshadow the other things a city has going for it," said Lewis.He said Victoria's civic attempts to address these issues is what earned it a top spot."This idea of the community first stepping in to try and solve, address and shine a spotlight on what those issues are and try to solve them I think is what gives a place its magic and that's certainly what we found having reported on Victoria for so many years from our vantage point."
Le 29 octobre dernier, un étudiant de Techniques d’animation 3D et de synthèse d’images du Cégep de Matane, Anthony Técher, a eu l’honneur de recevoir une mention spéciale pour sa bande dessinée « Monsieur H » à l’occasion de l’édition 2020 du concours CégepBD, réunissant près d’une centaine d’inscriptions cette année. En 3e année au Cégep de Matane et originaire de l’île de la Réunion, Anthony Técher a été félicité pour son oeuvre intitulée « Monsieur H », une bande dessinée de quatre planches traitant de la mélancolie moderne et de la sensation de perdre pied, une œuvre ayant vu le jour à l’occasion du confinement du printemps dernier. Malgré le contexte de l’édition 2020, 94 inscriptions ont été enregistrées au concours, qui est organisé par le Collège de Valleyfield depuis 1996. Les planches soumises ont été évaluées selon différents critères comme la qualité technique, les illustrations, la composition des éléments narratifs et l’originalité du scénario. Si Anthony Técher n’a pas figuré sur le podium, il est parvenu à recevoir l’une des six mentions spéciales accordées par le jury. En effet, le jury a souligné le « récit simple » du bédéiste ainsi qu’un « ton mélancolique soutenu par un dessin efficace et un design des personnages réussi ». L’illustrateur Mathieu Benoit, responsable de l’activité, a félicité M. Técher pour son « utilisation imaginative de la typographie et les couleurs choisies qui appuient l’ambiance claustrophobe » dans le récit. M. Técher a eu l’occasion de développer ses compétences artistiques lors de ses études au Cégep de Matane. « Cela fait longtemps que je dessine, mais jusqu’ici c’était surtout sur du papier. Pour ce projet-là, j’ai pu me mettre à fond dans le dessin numérique et développer de nouvelles compétences acquises au cégep. Sans ma formation au cégep, je n’aurais jamais pu me sentir assez à l’aise en digital painting pour participer au concours », a expliqué l’étudiant. Sa copine, Zoé Marchal, qui étudie en Techniques d’intégration multimédia, l’a notamment beaucoup aidé au niveau de l’histoire de la bande dessinée. « Le confinement du printemps m’a permis d’avoir plus de temps pour me pencher sur ce projet. Avant le confinement du printemps, la réalisation de la première planche, entre les heures de cours et les travaux à rendre, m’avait pris environ deux semaines. Après ça, j’étais capable d’en terminer une en trois jours », a commenté le bédéiste, qui avait accès à des tablettes graphiques pour l’aider.Claudie Arseneault, Initiative de journalisme local, Mon Matane
Sun Peaks stakeholders are adapting to the start of a winter season unlike any other, facing new COVID-19 protocols and restrictions that will greatly impact the resort and community. On Thursday, Nov. 19, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced a number of measures meant to tamp down community spread of COVID-19, after the province faced successive days of record-breaking new cases. The measures included a provincial order for British Columbians to minimize socializing—which in most cases means seeing only their own household—wear a mask in indoor public and retail spaces and suspend all events and community-based gatherings, including religious services. Indoor group physical activities, such as spin classes, hot yoga, and high intensity interval training (HIIT), are also suspended. The order is in effect from Nov. 19, 2020 at midnight to Dec. 7, 2020 at midnight. Henry also sent out a strong recommendation to the public against non-essential travel throughout the province, and specifically called on Vancouverites to “go to local mountains,” in addition to an already standing order against travel to or from the Fraser Valley Health (FVH) or Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) regions. On Wednesday B.C. Premier John Horgan called for all non essential travel to and from the province to cease, cutting off other important markets for the resort. The situation creates a host of issues for Sun Peaks and other Thompson Okanagan resorts, which are reliant on destination guests, especially in light of international travel restrictions still in effect. Though the changes are significant, the mountain is prepared and they won’t change much in terms of their day-to-day operations, said Aidan Kelly, chief marketing officer for Sun Peaks Resort LLP (SPR). “There was nothing in the orders yesterday, that really changes much of how we were planning to operate,” said Kelly. “It just just means that our visitation is going to drastically change.” Kelly said the resort operator is encouraging the public to follow the provincial guidelines and offering a full-refund for both ticket sales and accommodation until Dec. 7,the end date of the period covered by the provincial order. “We’re urging people to respect the recommendations and, and alter your plans accordingly,” said Kelly. Kelly said SPR has already seen cancellations for the period in question. “The phones have definitely been ringing in terms of people cancelling and changing [plans],” said Kelly. “But the good thing is that….your first few weeks of opening, are very heavily skewed towards the local market anyway, so not a massive amount of people that were planning ski vacations at this time of year.” Kelly said the resort has sent a memo to staff, highlighting its refund policy and asking them to encourage the public to follow the provincial health officer’s recommendations. Sun Peaks Mountain Resort Municipality Mayor (SPMRM) Al Raine said the situation is “tricky” from an enforcement perspective for small municipalities. Bylaw workers, he added, can face threats by people who don’t want to follow the rules. “You can see across the country and in other countries, that sometimes when people are confronting people about not wearing a mask they, they can get rude or violent,” said Raine. “But certainly, our instruction to our bylaw people is that if there is ever a physical confrontation, they should back off immediately and call the police.” Raine said he does encourage the public to contact bylaw if they see a situation, such as a party. “If they see behavior that threatens community health they should inform the bylaw immediately,” said Raine. Raine added the municipality will also look into its policy regarding staffing, as some staff have returned to work in the last couple months, after previously working from home. “I suggest we may have to take another look at that,” he said. The surge in recent cases have cast a great deal of uncertainty over the season, as SPR local businesses and accommodation providers are staring down the potential of a loss of the important Lower Mainland and Alberta markets over the busy Christmas season. Kelly said he’s hopeful the next couple weeks will stem the tide of the virus and that the recommendation won’t be extended. “We’re hopeful that this is a bit of a circuit breaker, and it doesn’t have to extend out through the end of December or anything like that, because then it’s a different kettle of fish that you have to evaluate then.” Matthias Schmid, owner of McSporties rental and retail, said the prospect of the Lower Mainland and other regions being cut off for the long-term would have a significant impact on local businesses, many of which reported a strong summer season fuelled by domestic travellers after having had to shutter their businesses in March. “During the summer months Sun Peaks saw a ton of traffic front the Lower Mainland. They were coming to do the VRBOs, they were renting bikes and hiking,” said Schmid. “The Lower Mainland really fed Sun Peaks this summer, so I would say that’s a major artery for us that’s cut off.” Schmid said the rapidly changing situation has caused significant challenges from a planning perspective, as clients from around B.C. and other provinces face uncertainty about whether or not they will be able to come to the resort. “It’s really hard,” he said. “That’s probably the most challenging thing I’d say, it’s the lack of sort of being able to plan.”Joel Barde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sun Peaks Independent News Inc.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic is hurting the US economy, the country’s housing market is booming. People are telecommuting. Kids are studying at home. These are some of the many reasons pushing Americans across the country to seek bigger homes. (Nov. 25)
More community drop-in spaces, places to make and see art or learn something new, could be coming to Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside if council approves a proposal to loosen zoning restrictions on storefronts in the neighbourhoods. Current city rules require storefront spaces be used for retail, health care or law office use. But many storefronts on East Hastings and other streets are sitting empty, even as homelessness has grown and many non-profits have had to limit the number of people allowed inside because of COVID-19 precautions. In May, the Army and Navy department store announced it would be closing after decades of operating in the neighbourhood. Owner Jacqui Cohen said the decision to close came after “insurmountable” losses caused by COVID-19. Tom Wanklin, a city planner who focuses on the Downtown Eastside, said there’s an opportunity to make better use of the closed storefronts. “What we are going to be doing is asking council to see if they would be willing to put it out to a public hearing to allow community-serving uses, including social uses, educational uses, local employment creation,” he said. Arts and cultural space is another potential use. “We’re working... to be able to know how many affordable spaces might be available, what is lying vacant, and talking to interested landlords as to freeing up some of those spaces,” Wanklin said. The request from the city planners is on the agenda for today’s council meeting. If council approves the idea, it will go to public hearing sometime in January, a process that lets people sign up to speak to city council about whether they support or oppose the proposal. The zoning changes are proposed for East Hastings between Carrall Street and Heatley Street; for Main Street between East Hastings and Alexander Street; and Powell Street between Main Street and Jackson Avenue. Organizations like the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre have been calling on the city to fast-track safe outdoor spaces, like patios, to help residents continue to access services in a physically distant way. Wanklin said city staff are now close to approving a patio space for the women’s centre, but many other organizations in the neighbourhood have the same need for more space. “With trying to create distancing, non-profits need more space in order to do that and bring people in,” said Mary Clare Zak, a social planner who has been working with Wanklin on the idea. They probably need twice as much space to do the same programming, she said. While some neighbourhood advocates have questioned whether the Army and Navy storefront could be put to some other use, Zak said city staff have not had any recent talks with Cohen. Zoning for most of Vancouver’s main shopping areas is designed to encourage streets full of retail shops open to the public. But COVID-19 has shown there needs to be more flexibility in how storefronts are used, city planners say. Zak said changes to storefront zoning in the Downtown Eastside could be a model for other areas of the city. “Non-profits, it doesn’t matter where you are, they’re all struggling with space capacity right now,” Zak said. Jen St. Denis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Tyee
The Township of Carlow Mayo had a public meeting on Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. so residents could comment on the passing of the township’s draft cannabis bylaw, and the council could answer their questions about the bylaw. Many municipalities have faced illegal cannabis operations doing business within their borders, including Carlow Mayo, one of them being the illegal cannabis operation that was taken down by the OPP on Hartsmere Road in McArthurs Mills on Sept. 15. Mayor Bonnie Adams stressed that with this amended bylaw, it will impose restrictions on where cannabis operations can be permitted within their township, and hopefully curb these illegal cannabis production facilities from starting up in the first place. After taking and answering residents’ questions on the issue, council voted unanimously to adopt this amended bylaw. Adams thanked everyone for coming and explained that the purpose of the meeting was to provide an opportunity for individuals to comment on the draft bylaw and pose any questions they may have before it was passed by council. The bylaw in question is bylaw 26-2020, which is a bylaw to amend the comprehensive zoning bylaw 33-2004, in accordance with Section 34 of the Planning Act, R.S.O. 1990. “Without the amendments we are proposing, we would have no authority on where and how cannabis operations could be established that are licenced or registered by Health Canada. Please be assured that council does not take this lightly. It’s a major problem for us and we’re doing everything we can to make sure that our municipality is protected from any illegal operations that could occur within our municipality,” she says. Adams mentioned that back on Aug. 14, she had attended a Hastings County Zoom meeting with Councillor Dan Hughey and deputy clerk and treasurer Jenny Snider to discuss this problem. She said their concerns were addressed to MP Derek Sloan, MPP Daryl Kramp, inspector detachment cmdr. Scott Semple from the OPP, insp. Jim Walker from the OPP Organized Crime and Enforcement Bureau, Warden Rick Phillips with Hastings County and Warden Marg Isbester from Lennox Addington. As a result of the meeting, letters were sent to Ontario Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark and Federal Minister of Health Patty Hajdu to ensure that all three levels of government are working in cooperation toward the issue of addressing illegal cannabis operations. Adams explains that in the letters the municipalities suggested some recommendations including; that Health Canada should share information about cannabis certifications with municipalities so they can ensure that certificate holders are compliant with the township’s zoning bylaw, that police forces have the necessary resources to monitor and take action against cannabis operations that conduct their business illegally, that the province provide means to amend legislation to establish a new provincial offence that creates an offence when unlicensed cannabis operations breaking planning and environmental regulations and when they ignore building codes, and that a suggested $100,000 fine be in place to act as a deterrent. If all else fails, the township would like to be able to collect any outstanding fines through municipal property taxes. While there has been no word from Minister Hajdu yet, Adams had heard that Minister Clark had shared these recommendations with Attorney General Doug Downey, solicitor General Sylvia Jones, the Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus and the Association of Municipalities of Eastern Ontario Monica Turner. “As you can see, we are not sitting doing nothing with regards to this awful thing that has come into our community,” she says. This amended bylaw only applies to illegal cannabis operations, not those more limited operations for personal and medical use. Industrial hemp production, which is a larger scale growing endeavor, is also not the target of this bylaw. Industrial hemp is a food and fibre non-drug variety of cannabis with a low THC content of less than 0.3 per cent. In 2014, over 100,000 acres of industrial hemp were grown in Canada. If anyone has any concerns that a larger scale operation is not growing industrial hemp, and is instead growing illegal drug cannabis, they should contact the OPP to investigate. Questions from residents had been submitted in advance of the meeting, so that the council could look into them and provide the most detailed answers possible during the meeting. Residents posed questions to council wondering whether the township knows whether Health Canada issues a licence to a particular property for a cannabis operation, and also whether the township can put a limit on the number of cannabis operations within the township. On behalf of council, Adams answered that Health Canada does not forward this information to the township, and that the township is uninformed about licence approval so they have no idea how many cannabis operations there are so cannot put a limit on them so far. Residents also asked council what regulations are being put in place to prevent cannabis operations from being too close to residential properties, and how the safety of the community is being ensured. Adams replied that with the new bylaw, cannabis operations must be in a permitted zone and must meet the required setbacks from sensitive land use, and adhere to other requirements set out in the bylaw. With regard to safety, Adams urged residents that if they have concerns about illegal and criminal activity, to contact the OPP and they will investigate. Questions also arose about how the township would regulate the smell from cannabis operations and the environmental impacts of cannabis operations with respect to water and waste. Adams replied that operations licenced and registered with Health Canada are permitted indoors only and that they must have an air treatment control system for the building or structure. With regard to water supply, cannabis operation owners are required to provide confirmation that there is adequate water supply for daily usage and for fire suppression. Private septic systems or other onsite disposal systems will be necessary to confirm that discharge from the facility can be handled appropriately. If an offsite handling is needed, the owner will provide documentation of agreements with approved waste handlers to the township’s satisfaction. Residents also asked if pre-existing cannabis operations would be taken care of by this new bylaw, and what these cannabis operations might do to local property values. Adams said that the new bylaw would not apply to pre-existing cannabis operations but that the township was working on a new bylaw that would pertain to the nuisance that may come with a cannabis operation, like the odour for example. With regard to property values, Adams said that they can’t forecast real estate values or MPAC assessments and that there are many factors that determine these values. Also asked by residents was how the township would enforce the amendments if licencing information is not given to the township. Adams answered that the amendment to the bylaw would allow the township’s chief building official and bylaw enforcement officer to have more ability to help them enforce the Ontario building code and the township’s zoning bylaw, and that all illegal operations will need to be reported and handled by the OPP. Having no more submitted questions and none from the gallery, Adams thanked everyone present for coming out, for posing their questions and for their comments. “We’re trying to bring this situation to light and to let you know what we’re trying to do to prohibit it and address the concerns,” she says. Adams then brought forth a motion by Hughey and seconded by Councillor Mike Cannon to adopt bylaw 26-2020. Council passed it unanimously and the public meeting was adjourned.Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times
VANCOUVER — The British Columbia Appeal Court should consider the finding of a judge who determined in 1983 that a 17-year-old youth accused of murder had the cognitive abilities of a 10- to 12-year-old child, a defence lawyer says.Thomas Arbogast said the trial judge made that determination after observing Phillip Tallio in court soon after his 22-month-old cousin was killed and hearing audio recordings of a police interrogation."The finding was made that he was intellectually impaired and that is something that this court must give deference to," Arbogast said Tuesday.Court heard that the recordings have gone missing, along with other evidence from the case, and therefore cannot be heard by the panel of three Appeal Court judges now deciding Tallio's fate.Justice S. David Frankel said the trial judge's finding seemed to be based solely on the conclusion of a registered psychologist who met with Tallio and determined the teen didn't understand the consequences of a plea deal.Arbogast said that while the judge confirmed the conclusion of the psychologist hired by Tallio's defence team, he made an independent decision about the teen's intellectual abilities.Several mental health experts have said Tallio did not have the capacity to understand the seriousness of the offence he pleaded guilty to, Arbogast said, adding the teen's "remarkably unusual" behaviour caught the attention of another judge who presided over a preliminary inquiry in Bella Coola in the summer of 1983.Arbogast read from an affidavit by the judge three decades later after he was contacted by Rachel Barsky, another of Tallio's lawyers.Arbogast said the judge saw Tallio sitting at the back of a plane alongside a sheriff or RCMP officer as they returned to Vancouver and that the teen was engrossed in comic books his lawyer had brought for him. "It seemed to me that Phillip Tallio was overwhelmed and he did not comprehend the gravity of his situation," Arbogast read from the affidavit. "I recall discussing this with other members of the court party after arriving in Vancouver."Frankel said there is no indication the judge had any conversations with Tallio."Thirty-three years after the fact he says in an affidavit this is what I recall," he added.Arbogast replied that the important part of the affidavit is the judge's "very clear recollection" of Tallio's behaviour on the aircraft.Tallio has said he found Delavina Mack dead in April 1983 when he went to check on her at a home in the northern community of Bella Coola.He testified last month that he didn't understand what he was signing when he made a plea deal to second-degree murder.His defence team has said he received "ineffective counsel" from his trial lawyer.But the CBC reported that Phillip Rankin testified last month that he explained the plea agreement to the teen, who seemed to grasp that he was admitting to killing Mack."You can't read other people's minds, what they understand or don't understand, but you get an impression," Rankin said. "And the impression I had was that he understood what we were talking about."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020.Camille Bains, The Canadian Press
Former patients of a maximum-security psychiatric facility who were subject to a series of “horrific” experimental treatments are appearing in a Toronto court via video feeds from across the country to testify at a three-week long damages hearing. Last June, Justice Edward Morgan of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice found two former psychiatrists who worked at the Oak Ridge Division of the Penetanguishene Mental Health Centre, along with the provincial government, liable for what their lawyers call unethical and degrading human experimentation between 1966 and 1983. Dr. Elliott T. Barker and Dr. Gary J. Maier gave patients high doses of hallucinogens and mind-altering drugs, including LSD and alcohol as the cornerstone of one of the programs. They confined naked men together for days on end at the facility along Georgian Bay’s Asylum Point, now known as Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care. Eight of those 28 patients have died since the lawsuit was launched 20 years ago. The first hearing revealed "varying degrees of harm” perpetrated by the two doctors in which the judge found the Crown also liable and in breach of their fiduciary duties “by perpetrating assault and battery." The current hearing is meant to quantify the damages by establishing the income patients lost as a result of their treatment in Penetanguishene and other related impacts. While the lawyers for the former patients haven’t yet attached a dollar figure to their claim, it is expected to be in the millions. Rod Joanisse told a court Monday that his brother, Danny, could have had a career with the family’s successful printing business in St. Catharines, possibly as a partner, were he not plagued by the effects of his time at Oak Ridge. As a 16-year-old, Danny was repeatedly cuffed to a convicted pedophile murderer, deemed, like many others at Oak Ridge, to be not criminally responsible for his crimes. The judge earlier found the teen “was humiliated, degraded, and deprived of any sense of security.” Danny, who died last year after testifying at the original hearing, had cut off two of his own fingers, but that didn’t stop him from doing tasks around the printing plant, his brother testified. But recurring nightmares prevented him from sleeping, increasingly interrupting his work schedule, he added. “He was more than capable,” the surviving Joanisse told the court this week. Allen McMann, now 61, told the hearing he spent five years on welfare after his release. And a letter from the welfare office finally prompted him to find some direction for his life and he signed up for a janitorial training program with Goodwill Industries. “I basically froze; I had a lot of shame,” McMann said, adding that he didn’t know what to do up until that point. That course eventually led him to a career of window cleaning, which he said suited him because it meant not having to deal with people, something he said is difficult as a result of his post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). McMann was considered to have a behavioural problem, was a bully in school and had stolen a car when he was sent to Oak Ridge in 1975 at age 16. There, he was deemed difficult to manage and remained at the facility until 1978. As part of the experimental treatments, he was coerced or forced to participate in humiliating programs he didn’t know were experimental, according to court documents. He was placed in a “capsule” with groups of naked men and locked in an isolation cell for group encounters where he spent his 17th birthday. That included being coupled with “a prison-hardened, seasoned killer who was several decades older than him.” The damages hearing is expected to continue for three weeks over the next four-week period and is to culminate with closing statements by lawyers for the former patients, the doctors and the provincial government in mid-December.Marg. Bruineman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, barrietoday.com
EDMONTON — The Alberta government announced Tuesday new restrictions to battle record-high rates of COVID-19 infections in the province. In addition to declaring a public health emergency, the government ordered the following for the next three weeks:— No indoor social gatherings. Funerals and weddings are limited to 10 people, as are outdoor gatherings. Churches are restricted to one-third normal attendance.— Restaurants and bars can remain open. But a maximum of six people from the same household can sit at a table and there must be no movement between tables. People who live alone can meet with two people.\-- Retail stores can remain open at 25 per cent capacity. — At-home learning for students in Grades 7 through 12 starting Monday. Other students are to do their schooling from home starting Dec. 18 before winter break. All students are to resume at-home learning after the break and can return to school Jan . 11.\-- Casinos can remain open at 25 per cent capacity with slot machines only.— The closure of banquet halls, conference centres, trade shows, concert venues, community centres, and indoor play places.— A halt on all levels of sport, although exemptions may be considered.— Mandatory masks for indoor workplaces in Edmonton, Calgary and surroundings areas.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 23, 2020.The Canadian Press
Faraday Township will be having its council meetings in-person going forward versus virtually by Zoom. Due to some technical issues that prevented the public from hearing much of the Nov. 4 meeting that was broadcast by Zoom and over the telephone, the December council meeting will be open to the public with all COVID-19 restrictions in place. In a motion brought forward by Councillor Carl Tinney and seconded by Councillor Bill Green, the council voted to hold the upcoming council meeting at the Faraday Community Centre on Dec. 2 to allow the public to attend. Dawn Switzer, the clerk and treasurer of Faraday Township, confirmed this change from virtual to in-person meetings. “Due to the technical issues we experienced at the last meeting, council decided that we would have council meetings at the community centre so that the public will be able to attend,” she says. In a posting on their website on Nov. 4, in addition to apologizing for the technical difficulties, the township posted the minutes of the meeting relatively quickly, by Nov. 6. They also informed the public that appointments from the November meeting, specifically Kim Bishop, who had intended to phone in to talk to council about fundraising for QHC North Hastings, had been rescheduled for the next council meeting in December. Switzer says that the community centre is being used for the council meetings as the council chambers at the township office are not large enough to ensure the physical distancing that needs to happen with COVID-19 restrictions. “The community centre permits us to meet these requirements. When the public attends the next meeting, they will be required to fill in the sign-in sheet and answer the questions [the health questions from Hastings Prince Edward Public Health about whether they’re well enough to enter the premises], wear a mask, and sanitizer will be available at the entrance to the community centre,” she says. Switzer says that due to the occurrence of in-person meetings, the ability to participate virtually will not be available. She does note that if the province changes the regulations, they’ll have to reorganize how they will proceed moving forward. The next Faraday Township council meeting will be on Dec. 2 at 9 a.m. and will be open to the public at the Faraday Community Centre. Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times
Independent businesses in Sun Peaks are bracing for the prospect of a potentially devastating Christmas season, as rapidly changing orders around inter- and intra-provincial travel hold the potential of cutting off visitation from the Lower Mainland, as well as Alberta. Earlier this week, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced recommendations against non-essential and recreational travel throughout the province, in addition to an already standing order against travel to or from the Fraser Valley Health (FVH) or Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) regions. Matthias Schmid, owner of McSporties rental and retail, said the prospect of the Lower Mainland and other regions being cut off for the long-term would have a significant impact on local businesses, many of which reported a strong summer season fuelled by domestic travellers after having had to shutter their businesses in March. “During the summer months Sun Peaks saw a ton of traffic front the Lower Mainland. They were coming to do the VRBOs, they were renting bikes and hiking,” said Schmid. “The Lower Mainland really fed Sun Peaks this summer, so I would say that’s a major artery for us that’s cut off.” During a Wednesday press conference, B.C. Premier John Horgan indicated that British Columians can expect more orders from Henry today. Horgan also called for the federal government to implement restrictions on non-essential travel between the provinces. The conference came on a day that B.C. saw a record high of new COVID-19 cases, with 762 cases announced. Horgan also said the two week order against travel outside of the VCH and FVH regions will be extended for an additional two weeks or more. The original two week order, which covered from Nov. 7 to Nov. 23, stated that travel outside of the region should be limited to essential travel only. British Columbia’s tourism agency, Destination BC, has also invested significant amounts of money promoting domestic tourism within the province. Schmid said the rapidly changing situation has caused significant challenges from a planning perspective, as clients from around B.C. and other provinces face uncertainty about whether or not they will be able to come to the resort. “It’s really hard,” he said. “That’s probably the most challenging thing I’d say, it’s the lack of sort of being able to plan.”Joel Barde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sun Peaks Independent News Inc.
The Limerick Friends’ Club hosted another takeout dinner to raise money for a worthwhile local cause. The dinner was held Nov. 14 at the Limerick Community Centre, and people came to pick up their meals from 4 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. According to Jo-Anne Carrol, they served over 60 people, down from the number of patrons who came to the takeout dinner back in September, but not bad either, considering the ongoing pandemic. Proceeds from the dinner went towards the Coe Hill Food Bank, to help out with their Christmas baskets. Even though they weren’t able to attend the dinner on Saturday, Councillor Ingo Weise and his wife Bonnie, who is a member of the Friends’ Club, helped set things up the day before. He acknowledged the impact that the Limerick Friends Club has had in raising money for worthy causes in years past, and how difficult it has been this year with COVID-19. “The Friends’ Club has most recently donated money to Wollaston Township for Halloween candy because the children couldn’t go door to door. These dinners have also provided an important social function in the community where people could get out and meet their neighbours. The roast beef dinner on Nov. 14 was held as a take-out so the social aspect will be missing although the volunteers themselves were finally able to get back together. The township of Limerick gratefully acknowledges the important service the Friends Club and all our volunteers provide to our community.” Dawn Lockhart, the chair of the Limerick Friends’ Club was busy in the kitchen on the evening of Nov. 14, but described the menu when she came out to deliver a few dinners to patron Lawrence Hiltz. “There’s roast beef, mashed potatoes, vegetables, a little bit of horseradish in there too, nice fresh homemade bread, coleslaw and gravy,” she says. “We also have a delicious triple layer cake for dessert and when that runs out, we have four different types of pie; apple, blueberry, strawberry rhubarb and cherry.” Jo-Anne Carrol was also helping out in the kitchen, and described the volunteers’ routine getting everything together. “We started yesterday peeling potatoes and things like that, and then the meat was cooked at 8 a.m. this morning. Then we came back at noon to do the rest. We’re getting to be a well-oiled machine. Our first one [the takeout dinner back in September] was a little delayed, but this one worked out really well. It’s a real learning curve,” she says. The price for this takeaway dinner was $15 for adults, $7 for children aged six years to 12 years, and kids under five years old ate for free. Sharon Boomhour was outside the community centre collecting money for the dinners and accepting donations. All told, they ended up raising around $850. Diane Percy explained that they intended to donate the money in the form of gift cards to the Coe Hill Food Bank’s Christmas baskets. “They put them in the baskets and we’ll be giving them a bunch of gift cards for that. And then we’ll also be donating some money to the seniors’ program for the lunches they serve down in Tudor and Cashel,” she says. The people coming by to pick up their meals seemed to be pleased that they were happening, even if it was takeaway versus an indoor dining experience. Nicolette Mitchell came by to pick up a couple of meals. “I think it’s great. I used to come for all the dinners so I try to make it for these,” she says. Geraldine Woodbank agreed with that sentiment. “Oh, yeah! If you want good cooks, you come here,” she says. Margaret Park comes by for all the dinners, as she lives just up the road from the community centre. “I kind of miss it where everyone’s inside because you get to see people and catch up,” she says. Lucy Leftman also came by and said she used to come for these dinners all the time, though not as much as she used to. “This is kind of nice, the fact that they’ve figured out a way to work around the whole thing [COVID-19],” she says.Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times
Recently there has been an informal change in health directives in the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division when a student tests positive for COVID-19. Last weekend Saskatoon Public Schools changed their guidelines where entire classes have to isolate after a single positive case in a class. Saskatchewan Rivers School Division director of education Robert Bratvold explained that they have been following a similar guideline in their division for over a week. “There is some variation but essentially the increase in community cases increased demands on the Health team so much that they cannot do the full contact tracing in a classroom. Now when a case occurs, all the students and staff in that classroom are sent home for isolation,” he explained. For example, when Saskatchewan Rivers announced a series of cases on Sunday each of the classrooms in in Debden Public School, Ecole Arthur Pechey School in Prince Albert, John Diefenbaker Public School and Carlton Comprehensive High School all had affected classrooms isolate. When a case was reported at Carlton on Nov. 2 only close contacts were placed on 14 day isolation. Schools in the division have remained open when a case has been detected in a classroom. There was also an outbreak, which means more than two cases in the same location, declared at the Global Sports Academy in Carlton on Nov.13. Another outbreak in the division was declared at W.P. Sandin School in Shellbrook on Oct. 30. The other active school outbreak is at the Prince Albert Catholic School Division’s Ecole St. Mary High School and was declared on Oct.24. All of these outbreaks are still listed as active by the province. Outbreaks have to declared over by an SHA Medical Health Officer before they can be removed from the list. According to a n SHA release sent out Tuesday, eight per cent of all infections come from educational institutions. Cases are more likely teachers or staff and test positivity is higher in the 14-year-old to 19-year-old age range for students. The Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health were not available to comment as to whether isolating whole classrooms is a provincial policy as of deadline. Saskatoon Public Schools has a similar policy. “I cannot speak to the potential that this becomes a provincial practice, but I can foresee that as a possibility in the not too distant future.” The Prince Albert Catholic School Division was also not available for comment before deadline.Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times Eastern):7:38 p.m.British Columbia is reporting 941 new cases of COVID-19 today, along with 10 deaths.Health officials say there are 7,732 active cases along with 248 hospitalizations.Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix are reiterating their plea for residents to avoid social gatherings.The province is also asking indoor physical activity sites, such as yoga studios and gymnastics centres, to suspend operations as health officials work to establish new guidelines.\---7:37 p.m.Alberta is bringing in tougher COVID-19 restrictions that include limits on social gatherings and less face-to-face class time for students.Premier Jason Kenney says there are to be no indoor gatherings, but people who live alone can have up to two personal contacts.He says students in Grades 7 through 12 will transition next week to at-home learning and the school holiday break will be extended from Dec. 18 to Jan. 11.Banquet halls, conference centres and concert venues must also close.Kenney adds that anyone who can work from home should do so and masks will be mandatory in workplaces in Edmonton, Calgary and surrounding areas.The measures will be in effect for three weeks and re-evaluated after that.The province reported 1,115 new cases on Tuesday and 16 more deaths.\---3:10 p.m.New Brunswick has revised the number of new COVID-19 cases it is reporting today.It now says it has five new cases, three in the Saint John region and two in the Moncton region.\---3 p.m.Saskatchewan is reporting 175 new cases of COVID-19 for a seven-day average of 209.Health officials say 105 people are in hospital, with 20 receiving intensive care.Opposition leader Ryan Meili says because of the rising spread of the virus, Premier Scott Moe should convene a task force to develop a more co-ordinated approach to handling the pandemic.Moe had been scheduled to provide an update Tuesday afternoon, but it was postponed until Wednesday.His office says further public health measures are being developed which will be announced tomorrow.\---2:20 p.m.Nova Scotia is reporting 37 new cases of COVID-19 today, for a total of 87 active access across the province.Premier Stephen McNeil said during an update the majority of cases were identified in the Greater Halifax Area.The province is also announcing new restrictions in the Halifax Regional Municipality starting this Thursday at midnight.The new restrictions include the closure of in-person dining for restaurants in the HRM as well as the closure of public libraries, museums and First Nation gaming establishments.\---1:42 p.m.Manitoba health officials have announced 471 new COVID-19 cases and 12 additional deaths. Chief public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin says the health-care system is near its capacity and the numbers must come down. He is urging people to stay home as much as possible.\---1:40 p.m.New Brunswick is reporting five new cases of COVID-19, most involving people under 30.Three of the new cases are in the Saint John region, including two people under 20 and one person in their 30s.The other two cases are in the Moncton region and both are people in their 20s.New Brunswick now has 93 active infections, with 450 cases confirmed since the onset of the pandemic.\---1:10 p.m.Federal Procurement Minister Anita Anand says Canada is working on an "end-to-end" chain for handling new COVID-19 vaccines as soon as they're delivered to Canada.That includes buying 126 freezers, including 26 ultra-cold ones, to hold millions of doses of vaccines that need to be kept at extraordinarily low temperatures.The government is also seeking private bidders to run the logistics, and determining whether the military has a role to play.Anand says storing and transporting vaccines safely is a top priority, especially when they have short shelf lives.Government officials say manufacturers of promising vaccine candidates are emphatic that their products not go to waste, which also means deliveries won't start until Health Canada has approved them for use.\---1 p.m.Yukon is imposing a mandatory mask order, effective Dec. 1, as it tries to control the spread of COVID-19.Premier Sandy Silver says the order will cover everyone using public indoor spaces, although children younger than two and people with certain medical conditions will be exempt.The territory has had no new cases of the virus since announcing Monday that it had reached 38 total cases, with 14 considered active.The territory's chief medical health officer has told residents to prepare to see more cases in the coming weeks, although he says there is no plan for any sort of lockdown restricting movement within Yukon.\---12:45 p.m.Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting two new cases of COVID-19.One is a woman in her 60s in the eastern region who is a close contact of a previously known case.The other is a woman over 70, also in the eastern region, who is connected to a cluster of cases in the town of Grand Bank on the Burin Peninsula.Health officials are also warning rotational workers of an outbreak at the LNG Canada project site in Kitimat, B.C.Newfoundland and Labrador has 24 active cases of COVID-19, with 323 cases confirmed since the onset of the pandemic.\---12:35 p.m.Dr. Theresa Tam says wrestling COVID-19 back under control depends heavily on individual Canadians restricting their activities.Canada's chief public health officer says the country is facing outbreaks in places that didn't have them during the first wave of the pandemic in the spring.And after the current second wave hit younger adults first, more and more cases are being reported in older, more vulnerable people.The Public Health Agency of Canada says on an average day in the past week, more than 2,000 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 and 70 people died.Tam says we know more now about the virus that causes the illness, and especially how it spreads, but Canadians have to put that knowledge to use by running only essential errands and restricting their social interactions to their own households.\---11:55 a.m.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is acknowledging countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany could have some of their citizens vaccinated against COVID-19 before Canadians can get their own shots.He says that's because those countries have their own vaccine-production facilities and Canada doesn't.Rebuilding that capacity will take years, but Trudeau says the federal government has started the work.He says having pre-bought an array of vaccine candidates from foreign manufacturers will help get Canadians effective doses as soon as possible.But he adds it's premature to start circling dates on calendars for when the first doses will arrive.\---11:45 a.m.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government has bought 26,000 doses of a treatment for COVID-19 from pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly.At a news conference in Ottawa, Trudeau didn't name the drug but said it had been co-developed with Vancouver's AbCellera Biologics.The two companies announced last March they were co-operating on developing a treatment using antibodies from a patient who had already had the illness.Trudeau says the government has an option to buy thousands more doses.He says vaccines against COVID-19 are on the way but until they're widely available, Canadians need to do everything they can to avoid catching the novel coronavirus.\---11:40 a.m.The Manitoba government says it has issued one ticket and more are expected in connection with a church service on Sunday for allegedly violating the province's ban on public gatherings.The RCMP say they attended the church, in a rural area near Steinbach, and found more than 100 people inside.The government also says 16 tickets have been issued to people who attended an anti-mask rally in Steinbach earlier this month, and more are expected.\---11:15 a.m.The Ontario government is reporting 1,009 new cases of COVID-19 today but a technical issue means the figure is an underestimate. Health Minister Christine Elliott says the issue also means Monday's case numbers were an overestimate. Today's figures include 497 new cases in Toronto, 175 in Peel Region and 118 in York Region. The province also reported 14 new deaths related to the virus.\---11:10 a.m.Quebec is reporting 45 more deaths attributed to COVID-19 and 1,124 new infections.Health officials said today nine of the 45 deaths occurred in the past 24 hours.Hospitalizations jumped by 21, to 655, and 96 people were in intensive care, a drop of two.The province has reported a total of 134,330 cases and 6,887 deaths since the pandemic began.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020.The Canadian PressNote to readers: This is a corrected story. In previous versions, it was reported that hospitalizations in Quebec increased to 665 and that New Brunswick had six new COVID-19 cases.
Despite the federal government’s commitment to exceed its 2030 climate targets, British Columbians say it’s not doing enough to tackle the climate crisis. A new survey found that 41 per cent of British Columbians think the federal government is not paying enough attention to the environment. And when asked about 10 specific environmental issues, at least three in five British Columbians said they are personally concerned about five of them: the pollution of rivers, lakes and reservoirs; air pollution; the pollution of drinking water; climate change and the contamination of soil and water by toxic waste. “The federal government absolutely needs to do more,” Nikki Skuce, director of Smithers-based Northern Confluence, told The Narwhal. “British Columbians really care about water, particularly those of us who live close to some of these freshwater systems in places where salmon are an integral part of the culture and communities.” Mario Canseco, president of Research Co., the company that conducted the survey, said a key takeaway from the poll is how climate change is becoming a more front-of-mind issue, with 63 per cent of British Columbians saying it’s a personal concern. “We usually see the problems that can have an immediate impact in our lives getting a higher rating,” he said, adding that issues that are perceived as not affecting us yet, such as deforestation and overfishing, typically get a lower rating. “But now we have global warming at a level that is similar to what we see for pollution.” Around 65 per cent of respondents said they were personally concerned about the pollution of rivers, lakes, reservoirs and drinking water, and 60 per cent said they were concerned about the contamination of soil and water by toxic waste. In northern B.C., where many of the province’s industrial projects take place, those numbers were even higher, with at least 80 per cent of people saying they’re concerned about water pollution and toxic waste. “When you live near it, you want to protect it,” Skuce said. “We need to do a better job of taking care of our rivers and lakes and creeks because they really are the veins that travel through this region.” It’s no surprise that British Columbians — and particularly northern British Columbians — care about water and the effects of industrial contamination. In 2014, B.C. made international headlines when the tailings dam at the Mount Polley mine in the central interior broke and spilled 24 million cubic metres of contaminated waste into the surrounding water systems. Since the disaster, the provincial government has done little to improve the laws and regulations to prevent similar disasters. Skuce said the federal government’s role in protecting water lies in legislation and policies that guide provincial decisions on resource extraction and development. Last year, the federal government modernized its Fisheries Act to strengthen protection of fish habitat and support restoration work, including rebuilding depleted fish populations. This follows a previous commitment to protect Pacific salmon through the wild salmon policy, which was developed in 2005 to address declining salmon populations. But according to Skuce, the federal government has yet to fully implement the policy and subpopulations of species like sockeye are on the brink of extinction throughout the province. “As somebody who works on salmon conservation, I think it’s really important that the federal government actually steps up and implements the Fisheries Act that it updated last year and follows through on a bunch of its commitments to restore and protect habitat,” she said. “And within that, there’s the outstanding commitment to implement the wild salmon policy.” Aaron Hill, executive director of Watershed Watch Salmon Society, said the Fisheries Act can help address the concerns of British Columbians reflected in the survey, but it has to actually be followed. “We need both levels of government to step up and, at the very minimum, fully implement the laws and policies that they already have on the books.” He also said the BC NDP’s commitment to develop a water security strategy, which would protect watersheds throughout the province, will require collaboration and buy-in from the federal government. “It’s really important that the prime minister and Premier Horgan support that work.” Skuce agreed and added that protecting water from pollution also requires legal reforms at both the provincial and federal levels. Despite federal mandates to protect salmon habitat, for example, provincial laws permit mining activity in salmon watersheds. “There’s a need to enforce our existing laws and close some loopholes on some of them,” said Skuce. The poll was conducted just after last month’s provincial election and respondents were asked how they voted. Nearly three-quarters of voters who supported the BC Greens or the BC NDP said climate change was a personal concern, but for BC Liberal voters, it was about half. “If you take a couple of Liberal party voters, one of them is going to say, ‘Oh, I don’t care about global warming.’ That’s pretty shocking,” Canseco said. He found that divide particularly interesting because it was the Liberal government that created the provincial carbon tax in 2008. “It’s been 12 years that we’ve had the tax and now you have the BC Liberal voter becoming decidedly less environmentally friendly,” he said. “It’s definitely something that is troublesome. I think they’ve been moving too far to the side of industry in many ways and forgetting that this is about the future of the planet as a whole.” More than a third of British Columbians surveyed believe the introduction of the carbon tax has made people more mindful of their carbon consumption and led them to change their behaviour, a proportion that rose to more than half of respondents from northern B.C. Almost two-thirds of British Columbians said the tax has not negatively impacted their finances. For Skuce, government action on climate change means more than implementing carbon taxes and protecting watersheds. “We need to stop subsidizing pipelines and fossil fuels at both the federal and provincial level,” she said. When asked how they felt about the provincial government, 35 per cent of British Columbians said they thought the province was not focusing as much it should on environmental issues and 38 per cent said their municipal governments also weren’t doing enough. “British Columbians perceive their municipal and provincial governments in a more positive light than Ottawa, especially with all of the commitments that have been announced,” Canseco said, referring to the NDP election promises to strengthen environmental protections in B.C. “We’ll have to wait and see if they get a better rating in the future, and also if the B.C. government keeps this seemingly high rating now that the Greens are no longer as influential in their policies.” Hill and Skuce said given British Columbians’ concerns about water pollution, the NDP’s promise to create a water security strategy likely contributed to the public perception that the province is doing more than the federal government to protect the environment. But both conservationists said this perception may be somewhat skewed in part due to a lack of education. Skuce called it “jurisdictional illiteracy.” “For instance, the federal government has committed to increasing protected areas of land and water to 30 per cent by 2030, and the Government of British Columbia has been reluctant to support that,” she said, pointing out that the province failed to meet its 2020 targets of protecting 17 per cent of land and 10 per cent of marine areas. Similarly, the federal government has clearly defined legislation on species at risk, but as The Narwhal reported last year, B.C. still hasn’t enacted provincial legislation to protect threatened and endangered species like caribou. Hill said governments at all levels need to step up and start working harder, collaboratively, to address the concerns of the public. “Even though water licensing and specific on-the-ground management of water falls to provincial and local governments, the federal government approves things that affect water like pipelines and hydropower projects and they have a lot of regulatory authority as well,” he said. Skuce said one of the ways the federal government could strengthen its commitment to protect the environment is by updating the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, which regulates the use of toxic substances and is meant to prevent pollution and protect the environment and human health. The act was legislated in 1999 and has had minor amendments over the years. Early this year, the environmental watchdog Ecojustice called on the Trudeau government to overhaul the act to reflect current science and “reduce our exposure to pollution and toxic chemicals.” Skuce said the act could provide the federal government with the “tools to help protect our watersheds through environmental and climate action.” Hill said the federal government made significant commitments to environmental protection last year in its mandate letter to the minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada, which promised to create a new Canada Water Agency, strengthen the Canadian Environmental Protection Act and introduce new greenhouse gas emissions reduction programs. Earlier this month, the Trudeau government introduced a bill to support its goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050. The legislation would require the minister of environment to set five-year emissions reduction targets starting in 2030, along with a plan for meeting those targets. Hill said that in addition to these recent commitments, governments already have the means to strengthen environmental protection. “The premier and the prime minister [need] to give their cabinet ministers and their staff a clear mandate and adequate resources to actually do their jobs and implement the laws that are already on the books,” he said. “Whether it’s mining or fracking or clear-cut logging or extraction of water for various purposes, there’s a whole lot of room for improvement. And people are right to expect that the government will do better.”Matt Simmons, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Narwhal
OTTAWA — Consumer rights advocates are criticizing the latest statement on airline refunds from the country's transport regulator, saying it contradicts federal and provincial rules to the detriment of customers.The Canadian Transportation Agency updated its statement on vouchers last week, writing that "the law does not require airlines to include refund provisions" in their passenger contracts — known as tariffs — for flights cancelled due to reasons beyond carriers' control, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.The CTA website post tops up its initial statement on travel credit from March, which suggested refunds are mandatory only if the tariff provides for it in certain cases.However, passenger rights advocates say both statements go against federal and provincial law and legal precedent.An airline's terms of carriage must clearly lay out its policy on matters including "refunds for services purchased but not used ... either as a result of the client’s unwillingness or inability to continue or the air carrier’s inability to provide the service for any reason," according to regulations under the Canada Transportation Act.The same terms and conditions must be "just and reasonable," the Air Transportation Regulations state. In at least four decisions going back to 2004, the CTA has cited the phrase in upholding passengers' right to reimbursement following flight cancellation.A 2013 decision concerning Porter Airlines found that “it is unreasonable for Porter to refuse to refund the fare paid by a passenger because of its cancellation of a flight, even if the cause is an event beyond Porter’s control.""The refund has to be addressed in the tariff. And the tariff has to be just and reasonable," said Gabor Lukacs, founder of the Air Passenger Rights group.Provincial laws also go against the regulator's statement, said Elyse Thériault, a lawyer for Quebec-based advocacy group Option consommateurs."For us, it's nonsense, especially in Quebec. Because the rules in the Civil Code that are speaking about force majeure — act of God — say that if a merchant cannot deliver the service because of a force majeure, then he must give a refund."Provincial law applies to companies regardless of whether they are provincially or federally regulated, Thériault said, citing Supreme Court of Canada precedent."And I’m pretty confident that no province in their contract law and in their consumer protection laws allow a business to take your money without giving you any service."Passenger protection regulations rolled out last year stipulate that, in the event of a cancellation that is within the carrier’s control, airlines must “refund the unused portion of the ticket” if alternate travel arrangements do not suit the customer’s needs.If a flight is cancelled for reasons outside an airline’s control, however, the Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPR) only require alternate arrangements, not a refund — though tariffs at multiple airlines when the pandemic hit spelled out passengers’ right to a refund as an alternative."If the CTA is given the necessary authority, we will move quickly to make changes to the APPR to fix this gap in the framework. In the meantime, we encourage airlines to adopt policies providing for refunds if flights are disrupted for reasons outside their control and rebooking options do not meet a passenger's needs," the CTA said in an email."The CTA does not apply provincial law."As for case law, the agency said its past decisions "may have limited relevance in the face of new circumstances," including last year's passenger rights charter.Lukacs argued the new batch of regulations does not nullify older ones that, when paired with previous CTA decisions, amount to a refund requirement.Most Canadian airlines continue to offer travel vouchers rather than reimbursement for flights they cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with WestJet a notable exception since October.Transport Minister Marc Garneau said earlier this month that an aid package now in the works for commercial carriers will hinge on them offering refunds to passengers whose trips were nixed — a long-standing demand by advocates and opposition parties.The pandemic has devastated airlines and the broader tourism industry, with travel restrictions and collapsing demand prompting tens of thousands of airline layoffs and billions of dollars in losses.But customers say they too are in need of funds they believe they are owed.The CTA says it has received more than 10,000 complaints since March. Meanwhile Air Canada garnered more refund complaints to the U.S. Department of Transportation than any American carrier in August, the latest month for which statistics are available.Passengers have also filed a handful of proposed class-action lawsuits and three petitions with more than 109,000 signatures that call for customer reimbursement.The CTA said in March that airlines have the right to issue travel credit instead of a refund for cancelled trips in the "current context," though it later clarified that the online statement was "not a binding decision" and that reimbursements depend in part on the contract between airline and passenger. "The statement was issued in extraordinary circumstances and addressed the risk that passengers would be left with nothing in the event of flight cancellations outside of the airline's control," the CTA said Tuesday.It added that complaints remain an avenue for travellers, though as of several weeks ago none of the 10,000-plus filed to the CTA had been handled due to an earlier backlog.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2020.Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press
Council will be scrutinizing staff recommendations around budget items at its special council meeting this Thursday morning. One of the items to be added to the operating budget is capacity to bring on a second summer municipal law enforcement student next year. Staff rationalizes the increase in budget by stating in its agenda report that an additional hire in that position would assist in dealing with the increase of a seasonal influx of complaints, as well as provide additional enforcement on weekends and holidays during summer months. The anticipated impact to the 2021 operating budget for the Protective and Development Department would be $12,270. Further in budgeting, council will have the opportunity to indulge in detailed discussions around operating and capital budget recommendations coming forward from the various divisions within the corporation. Part of it involves not increasing wages for council and volunteer firefighters and changing the summer student staff complement from 10 summer students hired for 18 weeks to four positions hired for 26 weeks and two summer students hired for eight weeks changed to three summer students hired for 18 weeks. It's not clear how this affect students away at university or college, who aren't home for more than half the year. The staff report also alludes to discussions being held between the YMCA and township staff about a loan that will be offered to the non-profit, in collaboration with neighbouring municipalities. The staff report goes on to list the total community grants given this year. The number comes out at $251,000 and increases to $290,000 for next year based on requests that have already been received by council. Staff is also recommending deferral of a few capital projects that were identified in bridge inspections reports over the years. The suggestion is to defer the projects for another couple years. The three projects to be deferred until 2022 are the Granny White bridge, Rumney Road culvert replacement and Rosemount Road - north bridge. In concluding the report, staff is still bringing forward a 2.7% increase in tax rate for 2021, unless reserve funds are used to bring it down to the 2% council has requested. In addition, staff is presenting options for acquiring infrastructure funding to support projects such as Oakwood Park improvements, upgrades to Tay Community Rink, Port McNicoll fire hall health and safety upgrades and resurfacing Tay Shore Trail. The meeting can be viewed online or an audio-only version can be accessed via phone at (705)999-0385 using the meeting ID 897 6141 3858.Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com