Chunks of ice at Cherry Beach on a cold day in Toronto, ON.
Chunks of ice at Cherry Beach on a cold day in Toronto, ON.
WASHINGTON — Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm won Senate confirmation Thursday to be energy secretary, joining President Joe Biden's Cabinet as a leader of Biden’s effort to build a green economy as the United States moves to slow climate change. The vote was 64-35, with all Democrats and 14 Republicans, including GOP leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, voting yes. Granholm, 62, served two terms as governor in a state dominated by the auto industry and devastated by the 2008 recession. She has promoted emerging clean energy technologies, such as electric vehicles and battery manufacturing, as an answer for jobs that will be lost as the U.S. transitions away from oil, coal and other fossil fuels. Granholm, who was sworn in late Thursday, is just the second woman to serve as energy secretary. She tweeted her thanks to senators and said, "I’m obsessed with creating good-paying clean energy jobs in all corners of America in service of addressing our climate crisis. I’m impatient for results. Now let’s get to work!'' Sen. Joe Manchin, chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said Granholm has the leadership skills, vision and compassion needed at the Energy Department to “develop innovative solutions for the climate challenge'' while preserving jobs. Granholm is committed to working every day “to ensure that we don’t leave any workers behind as we move towards a cleaner energy future,'' said Manchin, D-W.Va. During her confirmation hearing last month, Granholm pushed her plans to embrace new wind and solar technologies. But her position caused tension with some Republicans who fear for the future of fossil fuels. “We can buy electric car batteries from Asia, or we can make them in America,” Granholm told senators. “We can install wind turbines from Denmark, or we can make them in America.'' Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, the top Republican on the Senate energy committee, said Biden “seems to want to pull the plug on American energy dominance. So I cannot in good conscience vote to approve his nominee for secretary of energy.'' Barrasso and other Republicans have complained that a freeze imposed by Biden on oil and gas leases on federal lands is taking a “sledgehammer” to Western states’ economies. The moratorium could cost tens of thousands of jobs unless rescinded, Barrasso said. He and other Republicans also bemoaned Biden’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast, saying thousands of jobs will be lost and a friendly source of oil left idle. Granholm assured lawmakers that creating jobs was her top priority — and Biden's. “We cannot leave our people behind. In West Virginia, and in other fossil fuel states, there is an opportunity for us to specialize in the technologies that reduce carbon emissions, to make those technologies here, to put people to work here, and to look at other ways to diversify,'' she said at her Jan. 27 hearing. During her introduction as Biden's nominee, Granholm described arriving in the U.S. at age 4, brought from Canada by a family “seeking opportunity.” She said her father found work as a bank teller and retired as head of the bank. “It’s because of my family’s journey and my experience in fighting for hardworking Michigan families that I have become obsessed ... with gaining good-paying jobs in America in a global economy,” she said. In other action Thursday on Biden's Cabinet nominees: SURGEON GENERAL Surgeon general nominee Dr. Vivek Murthy said Americans must not lose track of opioid addiction and other health emergencies amid the intense national focus on overcoming the coronavirus pandemic. He told senators at a hearing that “we cannot neglect the other public health crises that have been exacerbated by this pandemic, particularly the opioid epidemic, mental illness and racial and geographic health inequities.” After dipping slightly, opioid deaths have risen again, the result of street formulations laced with the powerful painkiller fentanyl. Murthy told the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee that the overdose rescue drug naloxone should be even more widely available and that medication-assisted treatment must be expanded. Murthy, who was surgeon general in the Obama administration, has drawn opposition from gun rights groups because of his assessment that gun violence is a public health problem. But he tried to dispel notions that he would launch a crusade against guns. He told Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., that while he supports government studying the problem, “my focus is not on this issue, and if I’m confirmed it will be on COVID, on mental health and substance use disorder.” TRADE REPRESENTATIVE Biden’s pick for U.S. trade representative promised to work with America’s allies to combat China’s aggressive trade policies, indicating a break from the Trump administration’s go-it-alone approach. Katherine Tai told the Senate Finance Committee that rebuilding international alliances would be a priority, as well as "reengaging with international institutions? to present Beijing with “a united front of U.S. allies.? Tai did not address whether the Biden administration would drop former President Donald Trump’s tariffs on imported steel and aluminum or whether it would revive the Obama administration's Asia-Pacific trade deal, which Trump killed. BUDGET DIRECTOR Another key Republican lawmaker came out against Biden’s embattled pick to head the Office of Management and Budget, Neera Tanden, raising further questions about her viability. Iowa GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley told reporters he won't support her nomination. He and Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski were two Republicans seen as potentially gettable votes for the White House, as Grassley had previously said he’d had good conversations with Tanden. Murkowski has yet to say how she'd vote. With a handful of other key centrist Republicans coming out against her in recent days, Tanden’s path to confirmation hinges largely on Murkowski and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., neither of whom have made their positions known. The White House was forced to search for a Republican to support Tanden after West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin announced his opposition last week. Lawmakers have largely cited Tanden’s controversial and at times harshly critical tweets about members of both parties in explaining their opposition to her. ___ Associated Press writers Alexandra Jaffe, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Paul Wiseman contributed to this report. Matthew Daly, The Associated Press
Wheatland County council is considering sending a letter to provincial representatives and municipalities requesting provincewide COVID-19 public health restrictions be lifted. During its regular meeting on Feb. 6, Wheatland council voted 5-2 in favour of a motion directing administration to draft a letter protesting COVID-19 public health restrictions, with Reeve Amber Link and Councillor Glenn Koester voting in opposition. The motion was proposed by Councillor Tom Ikert. “I am becoming very distressed about the amount of not only economic damage, but the amount of mental health damage that’s being done with this shutdown,” he said, during the meeting. “We’ve got to get people out, (and) we’ve got to quit treating this like it’s the end of the world.” Ikert said once the letter is drafted, it should be sent to Premier Jason Kenney and local MLAs, with council’s approval. Councillor Jason Wilson said in addition to these provincial officials, the letter should be sent to all municipalities in Alberta. “It’s not just a provincial issue,” he said. “We’re facing federal restrictions as well that are very hindering – hindering our industry that crosses borders (and) deals with airlines.” Provincewide shutdowns have pitted rural and urban areas against each other, said Councillor Scott Klassen. “(COVID-19) does hit the large centres,” he said. “Our urban partners are afraid, and they have the numbers to support that, but we don’t (in) rural Alberta.” Councillor Donna Biggar said she supports a more regional approach to restrictions. “That way, maybe the government can actually concentrate on those areas (and) why those numbers are going up (there),” she said. Councillor Ben Armstrong said he and many others in the community have been not following restrictions since the beginning of the pandemic. Wilson said he too has at times engaged in social gatherings, against the restrictions. “A person’s greatest strength against anything is their refusal to follow the rules – that shows the most discontent,” he said. But this view was not unanimous among council. “I don’t like that nobody can come to my house,” said Councillor Glenn Koester. “But we follow the rules here, and my kids follow the rules.” Wilson said more seniors are experiencing reduced quality of life because of restrictions than are being affected by the virus directly. “My question to policymakers is, when are you going to start asking seniors what they want? You can assume they want to sit in a room with food being passed through a little hole, like in a jail, or they can risk living, to have a life, to see their family, and be part of society,” he said. “I think that quality of life far outweighs any risk of this disease.” But Koester said the threat of COVID-19 to seniors’ health is undeniable, with resultant deaths in such places as Wheatland Lodge and AgeCare Sagewood. Unlike the province, which has physicians, mathematicians and other professionals on staff, Wheatland County only has their feelings on the matter, he said. “What’s our expertise?” Koester asked, adding that easing restrictions now could result in a larger cost later, especially with the uncertainty of newly identified variants of the virus in the province. “I don’t like (restrictions), but opening and closing back and forth is not the answer either.” On March 2, council will debate the drafted letter and vote on whether it be sent. Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
(Aqua Maof Group/Submitted - image credit) A Norwegian company's proposal to open a salmon farm and hatchery in Placentia Bay, N.L., got a major boost Thursday from Canada's OceanSupercluster, a federal innovation funding organization. The organization announced that Grieg Seafood, an on-again, off-again salmon facility planned for Marystown, will be used to develop ocean sensors that allow open-net pens to be monitored and managed remotely from shore. The Ocean Supercluster will contribute $12 million with industry partners putting in $14.8 million. The project will use communication towers installed around Placentia Bay to receive data gathered by sensors in the water. The information will be transmitted to control centres on shore. Grieg NL is an aquaculture company in Marystown. Some of this technology is already in use at fish farms operated by Cooke Aquaculture, a Grieg competitor, elsewhere in Atlantic Canada. But Tim Stone of Halifax-based InnovaSea, a partner in the project, said the systems planned for the Grieg operation represent a leap forward. Its sensors are installed in more than 300 fish farms around the world. "We're not talking about making incremental improvements to technology," Stone told reporters Thursday. "We're talking about actually changing the way people do things." They can tell when a fish is hungry, or full High-definition cameras, sensors and machine learning will come together in Placentia Bay to measure the size of the fish, the amount of feed eaten and wasted along with real-time ocean conditions. For example, video will reveal when fish are hungry, or full. When satiated, salmon stop feeding on pellets and let them go through the water. Operators will be able to instantly stop the feeding process. Tim Stone is the general manager and vice-president of product development at Halifax-based InnovaSea Systems. "Those technologies, although individually they may exist in some parts of the world, no one has ever brought them together to provide multi-factor feeding in aquaculture-industry sensing technologies," he said. One of five partners InnovaSea is one of five partners, led by Grieg Seafood Newfoundland. The other partners are SubC Imaging, AKVA Group and High-Tech Communications. It is a two-year project with work beginning later this year. For Grieg, Thursday's announcement is a step forward after a major setback last fall when it shut down construction of its hatchery in Marystown, citing poor salmon prices caused by the pandemic. Grieg halted a post-smolt unit that houses hatched salmon before being transferred to ocean cages. Perry Power of Grieg NL calls the development a 'win-win.' The company said at the time work would continue on the other elements of the project. Grieg spokesperson Perry Power said Thursday the installation of the communication towers will be a boon for the Placentia Bay area, where wireless communications are limited. "This is a win-win for everyone," he said. "It's going to create not just for us but for mariners and pleasure craft operators out in the bay … a level of enhanced safety of connectivity," he said. OceanSupercluster CEO Kendra MacDonald said the project puts Atlantic Canadian companies in a position to export their wares. "We see this is a really exciting project from the perspective that it is building on existing technology," MacDonald said. "It's developing expanding technology solutions and these technologies can be taken to the rest of the world to really help with the journey to transform the aquaculture sector. So we do see that this is transformational." MORE TOP STORIES
(Submitted by SCIC - image credit) A wildlife researcher at the University of Saskatchewan says a popular petition to save wild pigs in Saskatchewan from eradication doesn't factor in how these animals actually impact the province's ecosystem. The petition, which was organized by Canadians for the Ethical Treatment of Farmed Animals (CETFA), argues that the province's current strategies for managing the wild pig population are unethical and should be stopped. "Shooting pregnant wild pigs and females with their offspring in their nests and terrorizing others by chasing them with helicopters, throwing nets on them and killing them constitutes inexcusable cruelty and is completely unacceptable," Olivier Berreville, scientific advisor for CETFA, said in an email. "Our response to these animals should be to learn to co-exist with them rather than seeking to eradicate them." Ryan Brook has studied wild pigs in Saskatchewan for nearly 11 years. He said the petition — which currently has more than 15,000 signatures — is evocative, but misleading. "It was presented as if these pigs are a natural part of the ecosystem — which they absolutely are not — and that they are being abused and mistreated which, again, they are absolutely not," he said. "So it was sort of presented as this evil operation that was run by the province of Saskatchewan, associated with the research that we do at the University of Saskatchewan." Every person named in the petition — including Brook and his graduate student — receives an email every time somebody signs. While Brook does not believe this format is leading to productive discussions, he said he has more in common with many of the signatories than they may think. "Growing up on a farm, and now being a full-time researcher, my job has always been to work with animals safely and effectively," he said. "My father would be the first to give me a stern lecture if there was ever any potential for misuse or mistreatment of animals in my work." He said ge thinks everyone can agree that animals shouldn't suffer. "I think that's probably my most key frustration [with the petition]. It sets it up as though some care and some don't." Province could have more pigs than humans: Brook Brook said wild pigs, which were introduced to local farms in the 1980s before establishing themselves throughout the southern half of the province, have become increasingly destructive over the last 40 years. "They destroy ecosystems, they do crop damage and they're very dangerous," he said. "The largest animal we've handed was 638 pounds. And they eat goslings and ducklings and mice and white-tailed deer fawns." Without intervention, Brook projects we are on track to have more wild pigs than people in Saskatchewan in the coming years. He said simply capturing and containing the thousands upon thousands of wild pigs already in the province would be an impractical solution. "So it's not simply a black-and-white case of 'just let them be and we'll all be fine,'" he said. "Many of the comments on the petition are along the lines of 'we need to learn to live together.' And that sounds nice, but in reality, these issues are far more complex and these pigs are spreading like wildfire." Brook encouraged people to get in touch with him or other scientists directly to discuss the issues, particularly if they have concerns or believe there are better ways of managing the wild pig population in Saskatchewan. Brook makes a particular point of responding to messages and comments on the Canadian Wild Pig Research Project Facebook page. "I can't emphasise enough, if you want to talk about the welfare of animals — absolutely," he said. "Call me any day, any time, and we'll have a conversation about the welfare of animals all day long." He said researchers like him have these conversations all the time. "How do we do this? How do we refine that? And we're constantly being challenged by our animal care committee to make it better," Brook said. "But I would like to see more of a conversation and a shared commitment to moving forward, rather than simply yelling at each other from across the aisle."
Lily is a long-term care worker. She is a qualified, skilled caregiver with over six years of work experience in Canada. She is also undocumented and was recently denied COVID-19 vaccinations because of her lack of status. Lily, who lives in Toronto, didn’t come to Canada illegally. She came to Canada on a work permit under the caregiver program in 2014, leaving her family for what she thought would be a much better future. She said she became undocumented in Jan 2020 as a result of a long and confusing immigration process. “This was to be a journey. So confusing and disappointing, I still cannot believe it happened. They tried to do the paperwork for me to get my work permit five times, waiting to hear from the Immigration Department as to what was going on,” said Lily, who is originally from the Caribbean, in an online news conference Wednesday to call for a safe, accessible vaccine strategy for migrant workers. The meeting was joined by leading doctors and health policy experts, along with advocacy groups. Hundreds of organizations have signed an open letter co-ordinated by the Migrant Rights Network which outlines the barriers migrants are facing, as well as specific solutions to ensure vaccines are accessible to all. Lily, the frontline worker, is one of many migrant workers in Canada who don't have a health card either because they are undocumented or have expiring permits due to government processing delays. One in 23 people in Canada doesn’t have permanent resident status. Many are in essential jobs including long-term health care, cleaning, construction, delivery, and agriculture. Registered nurse Pauline Worsfold, who chairs the Canadian Health Coalition and is secretary-treasurer of the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions, said at the conference that migrants should be included in the vaccine rollout, not as an afterthought, but as a “conscious decision.” “So my question is currently what is our goal. What is our goal, overall, for everybody in this country? It's to eliminate COVID so that we can have safe and healthy communities. It means the vaccine should be provided for me for whoever needs it.” said Worsfold. Currently, migrants who are from outside of Canada will only be eligible if they have a work permit that lasts longer than 12 months. Landing international students with a study permit will have to wait for a year before they become eligible. However, according to the Nova Scotia government's website, that eligibility for both groups is void if the person has left the province for over 31 consecutive days in the past year. The Department of Health and Wellness didn’t answer whether the province will be providing vaccines to workers without an MSI. “Those that reside in Nova Scotia permanently or temporarily will be eligible to be vaccinated when it is available for their age group. Details on that process are currently being worked out,” Marla MacInnis, media relations adviser for the Novia Scotia government, said in an email. The lack of “a stronger commitment” worries Halifax advocacy group No One is Illegal - Halifax/K’jipuktuk (NOII-Hfx), which also joined the announcement on Wednesday. The organization is urging provincial officials to ensure vaccines are available to everyone in Nova Scotia, regardless of immigration status. “We haven't heard the province really address people without migration status, people who are undocumented, or who don't have access to MSI, how are they going to get access to the vaccine. So that's something that's really concerning for us as well,” said NOII-Hfx's migrant justice organizer Stacey Gomez. Ontario and a few other provinces have temporarily expanded health insurance coverage to include all migrants in response to COVID-19. According to the government website, Ontario has waived the three-month waiting period for Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) coverage. Additionally, the province will cover the cost of COVID-19 services for uninsured people who do not meet the criteria for OHIP coverage. “Together, these measures will ensure that no one will be discouraged from seeking screening or treatment for COVID-19 for financial reasons,” reads the government website. Doctors and community leaders at the conference all emphasized a “private” and “confidential” process of the vaccination as they are worried undocumented people avoid receiving the vaccine in fear of deportation. “Many uninsured people with precarious status also worry of being reported to the Canadian Border Services Agency to face detention or deportation. Some, as a result, may avoid receiving the vaccine altogether,” said Dr. Danyaal Raza, board chair of Canadian Doctors for Medicare, a national organization of doctors and health-care providers. Canada deported 12,122 people in 2020 – 875 more than the previous year and the highest number since at least 2015, according to Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) data seen by Reuters. Lu Xu, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle Herald
CAMEROON, Cameroon — Linda Thomas-Greenfield presented her credentials as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday, officially taking on one of the most challenging jobs for the Biden administration of helping to restore the United States as a top multilateral player on the global stage after former President Donald Trump’s unilateral “America First” policy. The longtime American career diplomat thanked Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris, who swore her in on Wednesday, for choosing her for the “distinguished position.” “That was made all the more wonderful because I knew you were here,” she told Guterres who served as the U.N.’s refugee chief before his election to the U.N. post. “I worked with you in the past on refugee issues so I’m looking forward very anxiously to getting to work and working on many of the key issues that we know are before the United Nations and we know that people around the globe are looking to us for.” Guterres warmly welcomed Thomas-Greenfield, calling her a “distinguished global citizen" with great compassion for refugees. Thomas-Greenfield and Guterres then moved to his private office on the 38th floor of U.N. headquarters overlooking New York’s East River for private talks. She will be jumping right into her new job, tackling global peace and security issues with Russia, China and a dozen other countries because the United States takes over the rotating presidency of the powerful U.N. Security Council on Monday. And she might even decide to attend a council meeting on Friday. Russia’s deputy U.N. ambassador Dmitry Polyansky told a group of reporters Wednesday that “the red carpet” will be rolled out for Thomas-Greenfield and Moscow is ready to work with President Joe Biden’s administration -- but “it takes two to tango.” “We are looking forward to interactions with her,” he told a group of reporters Wednesday. “You can count on our most favourable attitudes and positive emotions towards her as a member of our Security Council family.” Noting Thomas-Greenfield's decades as a U.S. diplomat, he said “it's always easier to interact with professionals." But he said America’s view that Russia is “an enemy” and a “threat” hasn’t changed under Biden, so “it’s very difficult to imagine how the interaction with us might change with such starting points of the positions of the new administration.” Nonetheless, Polyansky said, “there are a lot of things Russia and the United States can do together” and “we will judge the new administration by what it does.” “We’re in favour of co-operation,” he said. But “it takes two to tango, and really we’re ready to dance, but we need a good and reliable partner who knows all the moves and who respects us” as a country with certain positions, “doesn’t view us as a threat” and sees “our obvious national interests in many issues.” Thomas-Greenfield, a retired 35-year veteran of the U.S. foreign service who rose to be assistant secretary of state for Africa, resigned during the Trump administration. She will be the third African-American, and the second African-American woman, to hold the U.N. post. Her confirmation on Tuesday was hailed by Democrats and advocates of the United Nations who had lamented former President Donald Trump’s “America First” unilateral approach to international affairs and rejoiced at President Joe Biden’s return to multilateralism. At the Senate hearing on her nomination, Thomas-Greenfield called China “a strategic adversary” that threatens the world, and called a speech she gave in 2019 that praised China’s initiatives in Africa but made no mention of its human rights abuses a mistake. The Senate voted 78-20 to confirm her with Republican opponents saying she was soft on China and would not stand up for U.S. principles at the U.N. Thomas-Greenfield said at the hearing that Washington will be working not only with allies “but to see where we can find common ground with the Russians and the Chinese to put more pressure on the Iranians to push them back into strict compliance” with the 2015 agreement to rein in their nuclear program. Trump pulled the U.S. out of the agreement in 2018 and Biden has indicated the U.S. will rejoin it, though how that might happen remains a major question. Polyansky said Russia welcomes the “positive developments” on the Iran nuclear deal and the U.S. agreement to extend the START nuclear agreement, adding that Moscow is ready for serious and meaningful discussions “first and foremost in the area of strategic stability.” Thomas-Greenfield stressed at the hearing that the U.S. will be reengaging internationally and promoting American values -- “support for democracy, respect for universal human rights, and the promotion of peace and security.” Louis Charbonneau, United Nations director for Human Rights Watch, told The Associated Press that Thomas-Greenfield should promote human rights as “a top priority.” “She should abandon the Trump administration’s selective approach to human rights – enthusiastically condemning its enemies’ abuses while ignoring rights violations of allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia,” he said. “But there’s room for continuity on China and Syria," Charbonneau said. “She should make expanding the coalition of nations willing to speak out against Beijing’s human rights abuses one of her chief goals at the U.N., above trying to bring African, Asian, and Latin American states into the fold. And she should continue to push for expanded humanitarian access to all parts of Syria.” Edith M. Lederer, The Associated Press
((RCMP) - image credit) The New Brunswick RCMP say their major crime unit is investigating the suspicious death of a 49-year-old woman whose body was found near Tracadie-Sheila. At about 2 p.m. on Wednesday, members of the Tracadie RCMP responded to a report of a dead woman on Chemin W. Gautreau, in the area of Pont-Landry, the force said in a media release Thursday. The woman's body was found by a passerby, RCMP said. An autopsy will be done on Friday to assist police in the investigation and to help determine the woman's exact cause of death, the RCMP said. The force said anyone with information about the incident can contact the major crime unit at 1-888-506-7267. Information can also be provided anonymously through Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477, by downloading the secure P3 mobile app, or by secure web tips at www.crimenb.ca.
La Ville de Saint-Sauveur a acquis deux terrains par dons écologiques pour créer la réserve naturelle du Mont-Christie. Les travaux débuteront au printemps et les sentiers seront accessibles dès l’été 2021. Un nouveau projet parmi les nombreux autres de la Ville. Ces dons proviennent du promoteur Immo-Mc inc et de Madame Nancy Guillemette qui ont donné chacun une partie de leur terrain. Au total, cela représente 1,6 million de pieds carrés dans le domaine du Mont-Christie, en bas et à l’est de la montagne du même nom. Il s’agit d’un milieu humide et un lac se trouve également au centre. La création de la réserve permettra de préserver ce territoire naturel et d’y faire de l’interprétation. « Il s’agit d’un don écologique, car c’est un milieu humide et il n’est pas possible de toute façon de construire dans ce genre d’endroit », a précisé le maire de la Ville, M. Jacques Gariépy. La Ville profitera donc de ce territoire pour y installer des sentiers d’interprétation de la faune et du milieu naturel. « Dans ce coin, la faune est très diversifiée. Des écologistes vont d’ailleurs travailler avec nous pour développer cette partie. » Des passerelles en bois seront également construites pour que le terrain ne soit pas abimé, mais aussi parce qu’il s’agit d’un milieu humide, donc il y a souvent de l’eau. Comme il s’agit de dons, la Ville a eu moins d’investissements à faire, sauf pour les infrastructures de bois et l’aménagement. Dans le budget 2021, le montant est estimé à 600 000$. En été, les sentiers seront accessibles pour la randonnée pédestre et pour y faire de l’interprétation. En hiver, il sera possible d’y faire de la randonnée pédestre également, mais aussi de la raquette et du ski de fond. « On regarde pour peut-être permettre le fatbike à l’hiver », précise le maire. Il y aura également un belvédère avec une vue sur le lac et le terrain pour y faire de l’interprétation. « Les écoles et les camps de jour pourront également en profiter. Du point de vue académique, c’est très intéressant. » Il y aura deux accès pour entrer dans la réserve : un sur la rue de l’Église et un autre à l’extrémité du chemin Papineau. Des stationnements sont prévus aussi à ces endroits, mais il reste à la Ville d’acquérir ces deux terrains situés au nord et au sud. Selon le maire, il est aussi important de prendre en compte cet enjeu avant de lancer le projet. « Le problème qu’on a dans les sentiers des Pays-d’en-Haut, c’est que les gens se stationnent n’importe où dans les milieux résidentiels et dans les rues, car il n’y a pas assez de stationnements. » La Ville souhaite donc travailler en amont, et ouvrir la réserve lorsque des stationnements auront été prévus à cet effet. Cela fait déjà plusieurs années que la Ville de Saint-Sauveur travaille pour créer cette réserve. « C’est un long processus, autant du point de vue écologique qu’au niveau interne. Mais toutes ces étapes sont maintenant passées et nous sommes prêts à passer à d’autres choses », explique M. Gariépy. Dès le printemps, la Ville entamera l’aménagement des sentiers et des passerelles en bois et travaillera avec des écologistes pour le volet interprétation. Mais la réserve du Mont-Christie n’est pas le seul projet qui prendra forme cette année. En effet, grâce au don écologique de la famille De Volpi, la Ville a acquis un terrain de plus de 3 millions de pieds carrés. Ce dernier est situé près du Lac des Becs-Scies et de la municipalité de Mille-Isles. À cet endroit seront aménagés des sentiers de randonnée pédestre et de vélo qui seront accessibles dès cet été. Certains sont déjà en place, mais il restera à les baliser par la Ville. Dans les autres grands projets de Saint-Sauveur, il y a également l’acquisition du Cap Molson pour y faire des sentiers balisés et y construire un belvédère. « Nous sommes actuellement en procédure d’expropriation. Dans les prochaines semaines ou mois, la procédure devrait être finalisée. On devrait commencer les travaux prochainement. » La Ville souhaite principalement sécuriser les sentiers, comme ils sont déjà beaucoup utilisés. Les sentiers du sommet de la Marquise seront aussi accessibles dès cet été. Il reste à la Ville d’acquérir un terrain pour en faire un stationnement à l’entrée sud des sentiers pour empêcher les gens de se stationner dans les rues. Selon M. Gariépy, ces projets aboutissent presque tous maintenant, mais la Ville travaillait sur eux depuis des années. « Les projets étaient liés à des échéanciers écologiques, avec le ministère de l’Environnement notamment. Par exemple, pour les sentiers du Mont-Christie, on attendait des autorisations de leur part qu’on a eues. » Voyant l’engouement pour le plein air cette année en raison de la pandémie, ces projets s’inscrivent parfaitement dans le mouvement. « On n’avait pas prévu la COVID-19 il y a deux ou trois ans lorsqu’on avait commencé ces projets, mais la concrétisation de ces derniers tombe pile avec ce besoin. » Marie-Catherine Goudreau, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal Accès
A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Friday: SPAIN Athletic Bilbao visits Levante in a matchup of two of the up-and-coming teams in the Spanish league. Both sides can hope to compete for a Europa League berth if they can keep up their strong runs of late. Levante enters the game in eighth place after just one loss in its last eight league matches. Paco López’s team took five points from its double-header with leader Atlético Madrid last week. Bilbao has improved under new coach Marcelino García Toral and is in 10th place. GERMANY Eintracht Frankfurt has stormed into Champions League contention with the best record in the Bundesliga so far in 2021. After beating Bayern Munich 2-1 last week, Frankfurt is looking to follow up with a win over Werder Bremen to move past Wolfsburg into third and extend the gap over the chasing pack. Frankfurt goes into the game on a five-game winning run in the Bundesliga and with top scorer Andre Silva returning from a back injury which ruled him out of the Bayern game. Bremen is 12th and looking to recover from a 4-0 loss to Hoffenheim. FRANCE Rennes hosts Nice with both sides needing to arrest a bad run of form. Nice has lost its past three games, despite playing well away to Paris Saint-Germain in one of them. Early frontrunner Rennes has picked a measly two points from five matches since last winning in mid-January. Although Rennes is drifting toward midtable, it has played one game less and can bounce back up to fifth place with a win. Nice is mired in 16th spot and not yet in trouble, given the six-point gap to the relegation zone. But it really needs a victory to give itself more of a cushion. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
(CBC - image credit) Front-line workers who took part in a provincial symposium on harm reduction yesterday say the opioid crisis that has been moving from west to east in the last several years has definitely arrived in New Brunswick. The names of more than 50 people who have died of opioid overdoses were read aloud during the online video conference. Julie Dingwell, one of the organizers, said participants had been asked to submit the names. Some may have been from outside the province, but Dingwell said New Brunswick probably has "very close to that" many deaths on its own. Meanwhile, the conference also heard that more New Brunswick babies are being born addicted to opioids. A newly released national study by researchers from Queen's University found 9.7 in every 1,000 babies born in the province in 2014 had neonatal abstinence syndrome, a collection of symptoms usually caused by prenatal opioid exposure. With about 6,500 annual births, that means it affected 63 babies. Saint John pediatrician Sarah Gander says opioid addictions can have a major impact on child health. Dr. Sarah Gander, a Saint John pediatrician who moderated the symposium, believes that rate has increased in the six years since the data was collected and would be even higher today. Babies with neonatal abstinence syndrome have to stay in hospital an extra two weeks, on average, said Gander. That's very expensive, she said, and it also has long-term effects on the child, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism, learning difficulties and medical problems. "Separation and adverse childhood experiences and the trauma of the early years is really where we need to go upstream to try to prevent the downstream pieces," she said. Gander says the pandemic is compounding addiction issues as people face increased stress due to precarious employment and housing, increased isolation and disrupted support services. She applauded the province's new mental health and addiction plan, which includes overdose prevention sites, walk-in mental health clinics, supported housing and treatment opportunities for youth. "There's no time to waste," she said. Dingwell agreed. "I felt that minister Shephard got where we were at and that we're going to move forward. I'm crossing my fingers that we're going to do that really soon." "I'm hopeful." Executive director Julie Dingwell of Avenue B Harm Reduction says there's a big increase in demand for clean drug supplies. Dingwell is executive director of Avenue B, a harm reduction group in Saint John. It provides services to about 950 individuals, she said. Last year they distributed a record number of clean needles, in excess of 400,000. The demand for needles has been increasing significantly in the last several years, said Dingwell, as has demand for safer inhalation kits and crystal meth pipes.
Canada's Auditor General Karen Hogan on Thursday delivered her 2021 report, including five performance audit reports to the House of Commons. The AG's audit of the government's procurement of complex IT systems found that many of the aging systems need to be replaced, including systems that deliver employment insurance, old-age security and pensions, payroll for government employees and systems that support government telecommunications structure.
WASHINGTON — Days after marking a solemn milestone in the pandemic, President Joe Biden is celebrating the pace of his efforts to end it. On Thursday, Biden marked the administration of the 50 millionth dose of COVID-19 vaccine since his swearing-in. The moment came days after the nation reached the devastating milestone of 500,000 coronavirus deaths and ahead of a meeting with the nation's governors on plans to speed the distribution even further. “The more people get vaccinated, the faster we’re going to beat this pandemic,” Biden said at the White House ceremony, noting that his administration is on course to exceed his promise to deliver 100 million shots in his first 100 days in office. “We’re halfway there: 50 million shots in 37 days," Biden said. "That’s weeks ahead of schedule." All told, more than 45 million Americans have been administered at least one dose of the approved vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna since they received approval from the Food and Drug Administration in December, with more than 20 million receiving both required doses. As part of the ceremony, four front-line workers — a pair of emergency medical technicians, a school counsellor and a grocery store worker — received vaccine doses on live television, part of the White House's efforts to build confidence in the vaccination program. Biden predictions that by late spring there will be enough vaccine to administer to anyone that wants it, but that hesitance of the vaccine will limit the number of people who want it. “We’ll have the vaccine waiting,” Biden said, predicting that point could come within 60 to 90 days. He promised a “massive campaign to educate people” about the safety and efficacy of the vaccines, in hopes of stimulating demand as the nation aims to vaccinate about 80% of adults to reach herd immunity and end the pandemic. Biden said he planned to tour a U.S. military-run mass vaccination site in Houston on Friday, one of several ways his administration is aiming to speed injections, particularly once supply increases. Biden noted the promise of a third vaccine receiving approval as soon as this weekend, as Johnson & Johnson's single-dose candidate undergoes review by the FDA. “We have a plan to roll it out as quickly as Johnson & Johnson can make it," Biden said. Meeting with governors, Biden appealed for their help in passing his $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan," which provides funding to expand vaccination and testing as well as economic relief for people struggling during the pandemic. “The economic toll of this pandemic continues to tear through our country as brutally as the virus itself,” Biden said. Biden also warned that variants could continue to spread, leading to more cases and hospitalizations. He appealed to Americans to keep up with social distancing measures and wear face coverings. “This is not the time to relax,” he said. Zeke Miller And Darlene Superville, The Associated Press
TORONTO — More infectious COVID-19 variants will likely make up 40 per cent of new cases in Ontario by mid-March, an expert group said Thursday, calling it a "minefield" the province will need to navigate very carefully. The science group, which advises the province on the pandemic, said the next few weeks will be critical to both controlling and understanding more infectious variants of concern that are continuing to spread quickly. Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, co-chair of the group, compared the weeks ahead to a "minefield" and urged continued vigilance when it comes to public health measures. "There is no easy path through minefield. Just care and caution at each step," Brown said. "The next few weeks will give us a map through the minefield but we cannot afford to rush through the minefield without that map." The data show that declines in cases and hospitalizations that followed strict lockdown measures have begun to slow. The numbers also show cases and test positivity rates starting to trend upwards across the province, including in hot spots Toronto, Peel Region and York Region. The science group's projections show hospitalizations will likely rise as variants spread and intensive care capacity will be strained over the next month. Even in the group's best-case scenario, intensive care bed occupancy will likely remain at, or far above, the threshold at which quality of care is impacted. Case growth will depend on how well the variants are controlled, according to the modelling. Those variants do not appear to have spread as quickly as anticipated, Brown said, but in the most likely scenario, the province will see around 2,000 new cases per day by the end of March. In the worst-case scenario, it would be closer to 4,000 cases per day, similar to the growth seen in other jurisdictions like the United Kingdom where virus variants have taken hold. "If we let up, we will with little doubt lose the gains that we’ve worked so hard for," Brown said. The group said vaccinating high-risk communities and older people will drive down hospitalizations and deaths. The new numbers showed that vaccinations in long-term care, combined with lockdowns, have resulted in a rapid drop in infections and deaths. The group noted that the province will need to react quickly with strong public health measures when flare-ups happen. That recommendation comes as the government ponders whether to impose stronger public health restrictions on regions with rising COVID-19 case numbers. Cabinet will decide tomorrow whether to move the Thunder Bay area into lockdown after rising infection numbers have forced several school closures and other outbreaks among vulnerable populations over the last several weeks. Dr. David Williams, the province's top doctor, said Thursday that he's recommended a potential lockdown for the region, which is a travel hub for northern Indigenous communities with few resources to support case surges. "We want to keep it at bay out of there and make sure we protect those remote communities," Williams said. Brown noted in his presentation the need to limit travel between regions, which has potential to bring infectious variants into areas with low levels of infection and less protections in place. Williams said the travel issue is being discussed with Simcoe Muskoka, where the region's top doctor has said tighter restrictions are needed to limit travel into and throughout his area, which has dealt with several outbreaks driven by variants. He also commented on the "dynamic" situation in the Greater Toronto Area, where two hot spots -- Peel and Toronto -- are under an extended stay-at-home order, while neighbouring York Region with similar high case rates has moved to the "red" zone of the province's pandemic framework, allowing more businesses to open. "We'll continue to have discussions with the medical officers in around the (Greater Toronto Area) during this tenuous time," Williams said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press
Businesses in Strathmore could start paying different licensing fees, depending on their size or other characteristics. A motion passed during the on Feb. 17 town council meeting directs town administration to explore whether Strathmore could adopt an approach used in other municipalities, where different license fees are charged depending on business size. Under the town’s current business license bylaw, passed in 2010, general business licenses cost $100 for residential businesses and $200 for non-residential businesses. Under this model, a large “big box” retailer pays the same fee as a small downtown storefront. Strathmore town Councillor Jason Montgomery said Canmore uses a tiered structure, where different businesses pay different amounts, depending on certain variables. In Canmore, license fees vary by square footage (for retail, commercial, wholesale and industrial businesses), by number of rooms (for hotels) and by seating (for restaurants), among other business-specific classes. Chestermere also employs a tiered approach for home-based businesses. It differentiates home businesses into two classes based on whether clients or customers visit, with a major home business (where customers visit) is charged $100 annually for a business license, compared to $50 for a minor home business (where customers do not visit). The intent of the possible change would not be to take in more revenue from business license fees overall, but rather to ease fees on smaller businesses that use less resources than larger ones, said Montgomery. Adopting the change would make the system fairer among different sized businesses in the community, said Mayor Pat Fule. Councillor Denise Peterson also spoke in support of the motion. “I think our community has grown to the point that it’s time for a review of how we operate,” she said. Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
OTTAWA — The Public Health Agency of Canada is launching an investigation and reviewing its practices after two returning travellers were allegedly sexually assaulted during their mandatory quarantine periods. A spokesperson for Health Minister Patty Hajdu said allegations of assaults reported in the media this week are "really concerning." Cole Davidson said the public health agency would review its own procedures as well as those of its service providers to ensure the safety of travellers returning to the country. The response follows reports that a quarantine screening officer as well as a returning traveller have been charged in separate sexual assault cases that allegedly occurred last week. The Opposition Conservatives immediately demanded a suspension of the obligation for travellers to quarantine in hotels until better safety measures are in place, as well as an end to the use of security guards, who they say haven't been properly evaluated, to check on people quarantining at home. Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet says he doesn't necessarily believe the quarantine measures need to be suspended, but he wants to see improvements to ensure the safety of travellers under quarantine. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021 The Canadian Press
Sudbury's first ever COVID-19 mass vaccination event began Thursday at the Carmichael Arena on Bancroft Drive. It's a joint effort of Public Health Sudbury and Districts, Health Sciences North, Greater Sudbury Paramedics Service and the City of Greater Sudbury. The clinic is taking place Thursday and Friday this week. Members of the Sudbury media were ushered through the building Wednesday to see how the vaccinations will be carried out. Media will not be allowed in the building when patients are receiving vaccines. The arena's main area has been transformed into a large room filled with partitions, arrows pasted on the floor, tables and chairs and waiting areas where people will be gathered to get their first shot of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine. The target is to vaccinate 1,200 people a day. "So when people come to the arena, the most important thing is that it is by appointment only," said Karly McGibbon, the lead public health nurse assigned to the event. She said all those who are receiving vaccines have been contracted and given a time for when to visit the arena "Once the people are registered and checked in they will come here," McGibbon said at the entrance to the rink surface. "There will be staff members telling them where to go and then they will be sent to one of our twelve vaccine stations." Each person will be screened for any conditions such as allergies or other health matters before the vaccine is given. At each station, a nurse is on hand to swab each patient's arm and then give a needle with the vaccine. McGibbon said the actual needles are the same as the small-gauge sharps used for flu shots. The needles are considered relatively painless for anyone accustomed to getting a flu shot. Once the shot is complete, each patient will be directed to a waiting area to sit for 15 minutes to ensure they're feeling well. There is then a formal check-out area where each patient will be handed a printed receipt outlining the time and place of their first dose. The patients will then be moved out of the building through the back doors to ensure there is no mix up with people coming in the front doors. McGibbon said the entire process should take about 30 minutes. "People should plan to be here for half an hour," she said. "The vaccine itself will take maybe five minutes." She said anyone with a history of allergies might be asked to stay a bit longer so that the health-care staff can check them out before they leave. McGibbons said the target group at this event are priority workers who up until now have not been able to get their first dose of the vaccine. "The people coming this week, Thursday and Friday, are staff members and essential care givers from long-term care homes. So these are people that have been identified by facilities and so their place of work, or where they're an essential care giver, notified them to say, it's your turn. Please call this number and book your appointment." All the booking was done by the City of Greater Sudbury in collaboration with PHSD. Second doses of the Pfizer vaccine will also be booked to take place in about one month's time, said McGibbon. McGibbon said there is no immediate word on future clinics beyond the one happening this week. "Well, we have the two clinics right here this week," said McGibbon. "We may move to other locations. It all depends on vaccine availability when the clinics can be booked. We may use a different venue. We may return to this venue. That hasn't been set up yet." McGibbon said the vaccines are being stored in extreme freezers at Health Sciences North. "What we'll do is pick it up in the morning. We'll bring it here. It has to thaw and then we have to mix it, so it is a little bit of a different process from Moderna," she said, referring to the other vaccine approved by Health Canada. McGibbon said all those who provide the vaccines are well-trained and experienced in giving the needles. "We are using a multitude of immunizers. We are using nurses from public health that have experienced immunizers, we are using nurses from other sectors, so we certainly have nurses from HSN coming, we have nurses from community centres, and we are also using community paramedics." Len Gillis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com
WELLINGTON COUNTY – The Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) project is looking toward the next phase targeting funding broadband projects in lower-density areas. SWIFT is a non-profit that aims to subsidize broadband projects in rural southwestern Ontario areas that have poor or no connectivity. George Bridge, Minto mayor and SWIFT board member, and Barry Field, SWIFT executive director, gave an update on the project to Wellington County council at Thursday’s meeting. In the presentation Bridge noted some highlights from the first phase of the project, called SWIFT 1.0. He explained they are exceeding their target of 50,000 premises served by a few thousand and are very close to reaching their kilometre of fibre laid goal. He was also happy to report that despite earlier concerns from smaller companies about SWIFT becoming a “Bell and Rogers show,” projects from small internet service providers (ISPs) accounted for about half of the funding given through SWIFT’s first phase. The small ISPs will become more important for SWIFT 2.0, the next phase of the project where SWIFT intends to focus on projects in lower density areas. “The bigger ones, Bell and Rogers, they go after so many people per km but your small ISP, for example they’ve gone down as low 3.1 density per km or three houses on a km,” Bridge said. “Our next round we’ll get into, some of the low hanging fruit has been done, now we need to get out to that last mile.” The funding is a big question for the next phase as there has been no commitment on what the province and federal governments will give, if anything at all. A third of SWIFT is funded by the province and a third from the federal government, with the private sector filling in another third and municipal governments providing some capital contributions. Coun. David Anderson asked if there’s anything they could do to give projects a better chance at a successful grant application. Field said municipal financial support or just letter of support for a grant application — which Field noted applies for other funding beyond SWIFT — can go a long way. He also said it might be helpful to encourage local ISPs to apply for funding if they haven’t done so. Wellington North mayor Andy Lennox questioned how to ensure funding gets distributed more equitably so lower density projects aren’t missed again. Field said by the time SWIFT 2.0 comes around those will be most of the projects left and to lower the number of premises per kilometre required, which in the first phase is at around 17 premises per km on average. “There are things we can do in the (request for proposals), the procurement itself, to not only encourage but ensure that we’re not getting at that easiest of the remaining premises,” Field said, noting this was a valid criticism of SWIFT 1.0. “We did have a very high premises count target we had to achieve and that kind of led to policies we had to encourage more premises passed.” Coun. Jeff Duncan asked if a possible federal election this year could delay or impact the next phase. Field said he wasn’t sure but did stress there is no commitment from upper levels of government to fund SWIFT 2.0. Bridge said they’ve been advocating through the Western Ontario Wardens’ Caucus to all political parties and there is no question from any of them that this is needed. The presentation was accepted as information from council. Keegan Kozolanka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com
La campagne de sociofinancement pour les rénovations du Bar à Pitons bat son plein. En moins d’un mois, plus de 8000 $ ont été amassés, sur un objectif de 30 000 $, afin de permettre l’agrandissement de ce lieu culturel et d’ainsi assurer sa survie. Avec ces rénovations, l’établissement pourra revoir sa capacité d’accueil à la hausse et bonifier son offre d’activités. C’est la Coopérative de Solidarité V.E.R.T.E qui est responsable du bar et qui a mis en place la campagne de sociofinancement appelée Pour l’amour du Bar à Pitons. Selon Christine Rivest-Hénault, coordonnatrice générale de la coopérative, le Bar à Pitons est devenu, au fil des années, un endroit unique pour la scène émergente artistique du Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean. « La signature du Bar à Pitons, c’est que tout le monde peut être une vedette. Ils peuvent tous venir chanter ou lire leurs textes. On accueille aussi beaucoup de groupes émergents. On a une offre qui, je pense, est importante pour la région culturellement », explique-t-elle, lors d’un entretien téléphonique avec Le Quotidien. Alors que les gestionnaires avaient pris la décision, en février 2020, de concentrer leurs activités sur le Bar à Pitons et de fermer l’auberge, ils ont été frappés de plein fouet par la pandémie. Le bar a dû fermer ses portes tout l’hiver, avant de rouvrir quelques mois à l’été. La terrasse extérieure a permis la tenue de certaines activités. Cet automne, la coopérative a dû faire face à la réalité. Les normes sanitaires ne permettent pas au bar d’ouvrir ses portes à l’hiver. Les gestionnaires devaient donc décider de le laisser fermé tout l’hiver ou d’amorcer des rénovations qui permettraient au lieu d’être adapté aux règles sanitaires. « Ça faisait déjà deux ans que nous pensions à ces rénovations et, comme tout le monde, nous ne savons pas combien de temps nous serons dans cette pandémie. Nous nous sommes donc lancés. Nous savons qu’il y a plein de gens qui nous aiment, qui tiennent au Bar à Pitons. Nous avons décidé de prendre le pari que tous ces gens-là, qui voient que notre mission est importante, allaient nous aider », se réjouit-elle. Déjà, les rénovations sont amorcées. La coordonnatrice est fière du montant amassé jusqu’à maintenant et reconnaît que son objectif est ambitieux. L’important pour elle est d’amasser le plus de sous possible, pour que la relance de l’établissement soit le plus facile possible, à la réouverture. Jadis un lieu touristique Le Bar à Pitons a bien changé avec les années. Lorsque la coopérative a acheté la Maison Price, où se trouve le Bar à Pitons, le but était de transformer cette maison en auberge. Au sous-sol, une salle de réunion avait été aménagée, surtout pour les visiteurs. « C’est comme ça qu’est né le Bar à Pitons, une toute petite salle principalement pour les utilisateurs de l’auberge. Rapidement, les gens qui habitent autour se sont approprié le lieu », souligne la coordonnatrice générale. C’est cet engouement qui a motivé les gestionnaires à faire des rénovations en 2015 et à mettre sur pied le Bar à Pitons. Le bar a eu le droit à un léger agrandissement, mais plusieurs espaces étaient toujours réservés à l’auberge. En 2018, l’auberge a commencé à perdre de la clientèle, tandis que le Bar à Pitons lui, en gagnait. C’est ce qui a amené les gestionnaires à fermer l’auberge, en février 2020, pour de bon et se concentrer sur le lieu culturel. « C’était rendu le Bar à Pitons qui faisait vivre l’entreprise. Notre programmation culturelle était de plus en plus riche, aimée et fréquentée, donc nous avons concentré nos activités là-dessus puisque c’est ce qui fonctionne et ce qui attire les gens », continue Mme Rivest-Hénault. La mission de l’établissement alors touristique a officiellement changé pour devenir plus culturelle. Tous les intéressés à participer à la campagne peuvent se rendre sur le site de la coopérative pour faire un don. Myriam Arsenault, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
The Town of Strathmore will undergo a rebranding, through which a new logo and tagline will be developed for the town. Over the past three years, council has been working on a new strategic vision for Strathmore to guide economic development and marketing, among other areas. But according to town administration, Strathmore’s current brand, which includes design elements (e.g. its logo) and its tagline, do not fit this vision. While the current logo works for larger signage, it reportedly is difficult to use or reproduce in many digital or print applications. On Feb. 17, town council approved a plan to proceed with a new rebranding initiative strategy for Strathmore. The rebranding will be performed in-house, rather than with the help of external consultants, which will help to lower the cost of the project, explained Geoff Person, the town’s communication manager. “I think it’s something that we can do for a really affordable price,” he said, adding that $10,000 allocated to the project this year will be enough to complete it. “Oftentimes, when you have a consultant-led rebranding initiative, a lot of money is spent in the community engagement portion,” he said. “So, we really benefit from the fact council has already done a lot of those strategic visioning processes as a group already.” The project will help achieve a council-led vision, allowing the town to bring in stakeholder groups, have them engage with the community and bring ideas forward, and then return to council to ensure it matches council’s vision, explained Person. While this process included many stakeholders, additional groups should be included, namely representatives of the Strathmore Farmers’ Market and Bow Valley College, said Councillor Lorraine Bauer. Councillor Jason Montgomery inquired whether the town would delay some of the necessary physical rebranding, referring to such things as signs and logos on vehicles, to help save costs. But compared to other municipalities, Strathmore has a less obvious branded presence, said Person. “Right now, not a lot of external signage, outside of our vehicles, has our current logo on it,” he said. “This means that the town can replace many of its branded elements when replacement is needed.” Some aspects will need more immediate attention. The town’s digital highway sign is actually “two brands old,” so the town will be looking to replace it over the next three to five years. The town will research a plan to replace its Welcome to Strathmore signs this year, to deliver a replacement plan sometime in 2022. Currently, the most visible parts of the town’s brand are digital, such as on websites and social media, said Person. “In that regard, a rebranding can actually be really affordable for us right now, because we can sidestep a lot of the physical costs, focus on the digital ones and really change our identity that way.” Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
An Onion Lake man currently serving time on charges from Saskatchewan has a bail hearing in Alberta on charges out of that province. Michael Patrick Hill, 23, was scheduled to enter a plea in Sherwood Park Provincial Court on Feb. 24 but an agent appearing on his behalf asked for an adjournment. The matter was adjourned until March 10 for a bail hearing. Hill is charged in Alberta in connection to an incident where an RCMP officer was injured while pursuing Hill. If Hill is granted bail at his upcoming hearing in Alberta, he will first have to finish his custodial sentence from a Saskatchewan court. On Feb. 9, 2021, in Lloydminster, Sask., Provincial Court, Hill was sentenced to six months for theft over $5,000 and two months consecutive for breach of a curfew. Hill has been in custody since he was arrested in Alberta on Jan. 19, 2021. Alberta RCMP say that Hill was involved in an incident in Vermillion, Alta., where a gun was allegedly pointed at someone. The suspects fled in a black SUV, which police located about an hour later near Edmonton. One of the RCMP officer’s pursuing Hill hit the ditch and the police cruiser rolled on Range Road 540 just outside of Edmonton. The officer was taken to hospital and treated for minor injuries. A second RCMP vehicle was able to stop the SUV near Township Road 534. Strathcona County RCMP and Fort Saskatchewan RCMP assisted Vermillion RCMP in the pursuit. Hill was charged with assault with a weapon, dangerous operation of a vehicle, flight from a peace officer, pointing a firearm, operation of a motor vehicle while prohibited, possession of stolen property under $5,000, possession of stolen property over $5,000, and failing to comply with conditions. Alberta RCMP also arrested a twenty-one-year-old woman from Onion Lake Cree Nation who was with Hill. She was released on an undertaking and is scheduled to make her first court appearance in Sherwood Park Provincial Court on March 17. Alberta RCMP say they will release her name after she makes her first court appearance. Sherwood Park is part of Strathcona County and part of the greater Edmonton region. Onion Lake Cree Nation is about 50 kilometres north of Lloydminster and borders the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. email@example.com Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist