Rotaract Haliburton Highlands is organizing a special festive scavenger hunt for local youth over the Christmas period. Starting this Saturday (Dec. 5), participants will have to scour the downtown area for hidden clues to complete the challenge. In total, 12 local businesses have signed up to play a part in the community scavenger hunt. Speaking to the Echo, Rotaract member Vivian Collings said the local club wanted to “do something a little special” this holiday season to help spread the Christmas cheer and put smiles on people’s faces. “We’re going to be handing out activity sheets at the Rotary Drive-Thru Christmas Party this weekend that explain what businesses participants will need to go to, and will also include Haliburton trivia and a colouring page,” Collings said. “As a group, we’re going to go around town and put up pictures of Christmas characters in the windows of participating businesses. Kids will then have to write down what character they find in which business.” Participants that successfully complete all three stages will be entered into a draw with a chance to win a prize. “We’ll have prizes for different ages groups,” Vivian said. “Right now, we have some outdoor games and activities, we have a kite, and some craft kits. Then we’ll also have some stuffed animals for younger children as well.” Rotaract is still a relatively new concept here in Haliburton. The local group was launched in January, and received their official charter from Rotary International in February. At present, the club boasts around 35 members. Rotaract Haliburton Highlands has close ties with the Rotary Club of Haliburton. As Vivian explains, “Rotaract is basically Rotary, just for younger adults.” The club is made up of individuals between the ages of 18 and 30, although allowances are made on a case-by-case basis for people who want to join, but are outside of that age bracket. “We formed the group because we wanted to help out our community in any way that is needed,” Collings said. “There’s a big social component too – being able to build more connections with other people in our age group. We found there’s a big gap between high-school age people in our community and Rotarians – there really wasn’t any other group in town [servicing] people our age, so we started one.” There are currently 10,698 registered Rotaract clubs in 180 countries. The local scavenger hunt is being offered at no cost to anyone wanting to participate. Activity kits will be handed out at the Rotary Drive-Thru Christmas Party this Saturday, and will be available for pick-up at Century 21, located at 191 Highland St. To be eligible for a prize, completed activity sheets should be dropped off at Century 21, or emailed to email@example.com.Mike Baker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Haliburton County Echo
A frequent user of Nova Scotia's freedom-of-information system says he's growing frustrated with what he calls the repeated disregard for the rules by the provincial Fisheries and Aquaculture Department.Ron Neufeld has filed four requests for information from the department since last February and each has faced notable delays. In one case, Neufeld faced multiple time extensions for his application before eventually being told the package was awaiting sign-off by the deputy minister before it could be released; that only happened after Neufeld called in the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner.In another case, the department refused to release any documents even after the commissioner became involved. In a third case, it took months for the deputy minister to sign off on what amounted to a single page of information; again the commissioner's office had to intercede.Neufeld is still waiting for information about a lease and licence for a specific aquaculture site he requested back in June."It's hard not to feel picked on," Neufeld, a well-known critic of open-pen fish farming, said in a telephone interview. "The department seems to have disregard for their obligations under [the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act]."'Committed to being open'The freedom-of-information system is intended to provide accountability for the public when it comes to government operations, said Neufeld, but right now it feels like the department isn't living up to its obligation.Even more frustrating for him is that there is little that can be done to hold department officials' feet to the fire; recommendations from the commissioner's office are not binding. Premier Stephen McNeil has ignored repeated requests to change that, despite having promised to do so during the 2013 provincial election.The department refused to make Minister Keith Colwell or deputy minister Loretta Robichaud available for an interview, but in a statement said they are "committed to being open and transparent."The statement said the department has been proactively posting "most information" online, including administrative and adjudicative decisions and adjudicative application documents. Leases and licences will be posted online as they're renewed, according to the statement.The department's statement did not address the issue of delayed sign-offs by the deputy on the release of information packages.Repeated roadblocksA complaint from Neufeld was the subject of a report by the privacy commissioner's office in February.In that report, it was noted the department ignored followups by staff with Information Access and Privacy Services to try to move things along. It also noted that the act does not permit time delays for awaiting a deputy minister's sign-off on the release of information.At the time, Internal Services Minister Patricia Arab, whose department oversees Information Access and Privacy Services, said it would be "very irresponsible" for government officials not to do due diligence when it comes to freedom-of-information requests.For Neufeld, who once successfully sued the government to gain access to information the commissioner ruled he was entitled to, the issue comes down to the department living up to its own talking points."I hear over and over again from the minister that they're becoming more transparent and providing more information all the time, and yet it seems like that is actually not the case when you get down to asking them a question," he said."It's pretty basic information I'm asking for."MORE TOP STORIES
ST. MARY’S – Stricter provincewide measures to protect people during the second wave of COVID-19 won’t derail at least some public displays of holiday cheer in St. Mary’s this year, say municipal officials. Plans are still afoot for the Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s Department of Community Development and Recreation’s annual carolling and fireworks event, though director Mallory Fraser says that could change at the last minute. “We will be monitoring the situation as it develops, and make a final decision closer to the date,” she says. For now, the event is scheduled to take place on Saturday, Dec. 19, starting at 6:30 p.m., at the St. Mary’s Education Centre/Academy’s parking lot, followed by fireworks and hot chocolate at the Sherbrooke Ball Field. To ensure safety, carollers must register and maintain socially safe distances from each other – and each other’s respective bubbles – before heading through Historic Sherbrooke Village. Something new this year is the Holiday Light Extravaganza. Between Dec 1 and 15, St. Mary’s residents, after filling out an entry form, may submit photos of their home seasonal displays to the community and recreation department’s Facebook Page. Voting will begin on Dec. 10, and the winner will be announced before Christmas. “The Holiday Light Extravaganza will go ahead no matter what,” Fraser says. “This is something that people can do without having to worry about social distancing.” Chief Administrative Officer Marvin MacDonald is not expecting trouble despite the worsening infection rate elsewhere in the province. “We haven’t relaxed our protocols here at the office,” he says. “We were going to look into opening the fitness centre at the school, but we’ve just put that back on hold until the new year.” As for the Recplex, he says it is operating for hockey and curling. “When we made the decision to open the rink, it was always based on the idea that if COVID heated up again, we would see how it played out. We’re going to keep the protocols we have in place. If the situation gets worse, we are either going to tighten the protocols, or close some facilities down. But, right now, we are just watching and monitoring.” MacDonald confirmed that the municipality has not reported any cases since the pandemic hit the province earlier this year. Last week, the provincial government introduced newer, tighter controls on public gatherings to staunch an increase in the rate of infection mostly in the Halifax area. “We must immediately change course on COVID-19. The virus is circulating rapidly in Halifax, and we must stop its spread across the province,” Premier Stephen McNeil says in a Nov. 24 news release. The new regulations in the capital include: limiting public gatherings to five people (or up to the number of immediate family members of a household); requiring masks in common areas of multi-unit residential buildings; restricting restaurants to take-out service; limiting the number of customers and employees of retail outlets to 25 per cent of their normal capacity; and suspending organized sporting, recreational, cultural and religious gatherings. On Nov. 29, the number of active COVID-19 cases in the province stood at 125, up from 119 at the end of last week.Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
DURHAM: The Ontario provincial government is making more money available for school boards residing in the red-control zone of the province’s COVID-19 response framework. On Thursday, November 26th, provincial officials announced the government is “allocating $13.6 million for school boards in Durham, Halton, Hamilton and Waterloo Region in response to the increase in COVID-19 cases in these communities.” A provincial press release explained these funds will go towards “promoting physical distancing with the hiring of more teachers and staff; increasing remote learning supports; and improving cleanliness with the hiring of additional custodians.” At a press conference on November 26th, Premier Doug Ford stressed the importance of supporting school boards in zones where COVID-19 cases are on the rise. “The higher transmission rates in some communities pose a real risk. So we have to be even more vigilant than ever,” he said. The Premier added schools in red zones “need extra support to keep students and staff safe.” Education Minister Stephen Lecce attempted to assure people that “Ontario schools remain safe.”Dan Cearns, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Standard Newspaper
Newly-elected Yorkton, Sask., Mayor Mitch Hipplsey says Manitobans are still welcome in his city and there isn't much he could do to stop them if he wanted to.Both provinces are reporting high numbers of COVID-19 cases and health officials are asking people to avoid non-essential interprovincial travel.Yorkton is about 80 kilometres away from the Manitoba border, so Hipplsey said it's been very common to see Manitoba licence plates in that city since long before the pandemic started.Hipplsey said Manitobans are not only essential to the local economy, but between 12 and 15 per cent of patients at Yorkton's hospital are from that province. Not to mention the municipal government doesn't have any legal authority to stop Manitobans from coming there, Hippsley said."Interprovincial travel is not our rules [or] our protocol," he said, noting he has been in close contact with Premier Scott Moe."We hope that our provincial leaders will look after that for us, but it's not our legislation to control that."Hipplsey said he has heard concerns from some residents.He said he sympathizes with those concerns, but there isn't much the city can do aside from ensuring everyone is abiding by COVID-19 protocols like wearing a mask in indoor public places, physical distancing, regular hand washing and staying home when sick."We cannot stop people from doing what they're going to do. We can only ask that they be responsible."No interprovincial travel unless 'absolutely necessary'Moe said on Monday people should not travel interprovincially unless it's "absolutely necessary.""I know businesses and maybe [chambers of commerce] are hungry for business, but I would ask them as an organization and the individuals, whether they be in Manitoba or Saskatchewan, to follow the public health advice … that does not mean going for groceries in a neighbouring province," Moe told reporters."Let's make a little bit of an effort so that we can bend these numbers down and preserve all of the opportunities that we have in our province."The Yorkton Chamber of Commerce declined an interview request.Editorial in Man. newspaperThe Brandon Sun recently published an editorial criticizing Hipplsey's welcoming stance on Manitobans coming to Yorkton.It was in response to a CTV Regina story that featured the mayor saying Manitoba shoppers are always welcomed and encouraged.The editorial says inviting people from Manitoba to shop in Yorkton given the current pandemic circumstances puts people in Saskatchewan at a greater risk since there are considerably more active cases of COVID-19 in Manitoba."Communities in Manitoba have come here on a daily basis to get their essential needs, COVID or non-COVID," Hippsley told CBC News in response.He also reiterated that many Manitobans come to Yorkton for reasons other than shopping, like going to the hospital."Until the provincial governments get involved and stop people at the border, we've got no control over that."
Dr. Alfonso Fasano of the Krembil Brain Institute at the Toronto Western Hospital explains how the Percept PC deep brain stimulation system works to help doctors keep an eye on patients' brains as they go about their lives.
As IndigiNews’s education reporter covering news across Vancouver Island, I’m following all of the latest developments. Every month, I’ll bring you a roundup of what you need to know about what’s relevant to Indigenous students, teachers, parents and families. COVID-19 exposures this month were reported at the following schools across the Island according to Island Health: That’s it for now! If you have news or information that you want to share, email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.Catherine Lafferty, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Discourse
Toronto poet and children's writer Dennis Lee is among the winners of this year's Writers' Trust career honours. The Writers' Trust of Canada doled out $25,000 apiece to four well-versed wordsmiths on Wednesday for their continued contributions to Canadian literature. Lee was named the winner of the Matt Cohen Award for a lifetime of distinguished work by a Canadian writer. His achievements include co-founding the independent publishing company House of Anansi Press in 1967, and penning the 1974 children's classic "Alligator Pie." Also recognized on Wednesday was Kerri Sakamoto, the Toronto-based author of three novels exploring the experience of Japanese-Canadians, who won the Writers' Trust Engel/Findley Award honouring a mid-career writer for their contributions to fiction. Queen's University professor Armand Garnet Ruffo, who draws from his Ojibwe heritage in his genre-spanning works, won the Latner Writers' Trust Poetry Prize recognizing a mid-career poet for mastery of the form. The $25,000 Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People went to Montreal-based Marianne Dubuc, a French-language author and illustrator whose picture books have been published in more than 25 languages. Organizers say the Writers' Trust Awards has given out a total of more than $300,000 to Canadian writers this year between its prizes for individual works, career achievements and emerging talent. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 2, 2020. The Canadian Press
McNab/Braeside’s $10-million 2021 budget, set to be passed on Dec. 15, is still “very fluid,” according to township treasurer Kelly Coughlin. She cannot comment on whether taxpayers will pay more taxes in 2021. “I don’t want to give taxpayers the impression that there will be no increase. There are some items that need to be finalized in the coming weeks, that could change the numbers,” Coughlin said in a phone interview Dec. 1. Mayor Tom Peckett, however, said he is confident that there will be “almost no increase in money required from the taxpayers” in an interview Nov. 26. “There’s a little bit of tweaking but I fully expect (the 2021 budget) to be passed on Dec. 15,” he said. “It’s almost equal to last year’s budget.” The first draft of the township’s 2021 budget proposed a 9.59 per cent tax levy increase over this year, with a big chunk of spending set aside for the roads department. “Once it’s passed, we’ll explain how we got there. I can’t really quantify (it yet),” he said. The pandemic has impacted next year’s budget. Expediting the systems required to stream public meetings online will be part of expenses next year. The mayor talked about moving into a new township building in January this year, “getting the kinks out of (the building)” and tackling one of the priorities for council: being able to stream online. “It was always on council’s agenda to get it done. With COVID-19, it’s taking a bit longer than we would have liked to. It’s been a work in progress for us,” Peckett said. “That’s why it’s (included) in the budget. We’re getting there,” he said. He cannot disclose how much updating the systems will cost. Coughlin said that the biggest consequence that the pandemic had on the township’s budget is on recreation programs. “We have to reimagine our programming because of the restrictions on the number (of participants). It impacts indoor programming, and there will be an impact on the revenue side of the things,” she said. “Staff is trying to adjust the operating budgets. We still want to have money available to provide programming to the ratepayers. On the Dec. 15 budget, I will be providing a comprehensive report summarizing the key things included in the budget,” Coughlin added. The treasurer stressed that there have been changes since their last council meeting. “The overall budget is a little over $10 million, that’s what it currently is. That is subject to change. Everything will be finalized on Dec. 15,” she said. Asked if taxpayers can expect any surprises in the budget next year, the mayor said “not for me there isn’t (a surprise). It’s the same as usual, there’s always an increase in fuel cost and labour cost. It’s pretty well the usual.” A notice is posted on the township’s website about the upcoming meeting: “Notice is hereby given that the Council of the Township of McNab/Braeside intends to consider passing a Bylaw to adopt the 2021 Operating and Capital budgets in accordance with Section 290 of the Municipal Act, 2001 at the Regular Meeting of Council to be held on Dec. 15, 2021 at 7 p.m. at the Township Council Chambers, 2473 Russett Dr.”Yona Harvey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Smiths Falls Record News
A long-time familiar face in the Hudson’s Hope medical community has retired. Long-time resident and nurse Susan Worrall Soderstrom retired this summer after nearly 30 years serving the community. Soderstrom says her career has been a good one, and says she’s glad she stayed to practice in the small community, often filling much need gaps in medical services. “I’ve got good memories here, people growing up and moving on with their lives. It’s nice to see the generations come through and getting to know everyone,” said Soderstrom. “I went into it because I care about people.” Soderstrom started her career in the Prince George Regional Hospital, working in pediatric intensive care for several years, before moving back to Hudson’s Hope. “It was a big change coming from pediatrics to working with all the adults as well,” said Soderstrom. “But it was a good asset to have, with all the children in town here.” Soderstrom also worked in maternity and end of life care in Prince George. “Right from birth to holding their hands when they leave this world, I’ve done it all,” she said. “It was a great asset to have that experience.” Soderstrom says she’s seen a lot working in the small community — a sinkhole at the WAC Bennett Dam in 1996, fires in 1997, and working out of the District Office basement in 1995 while the current clinic was being built. “That was challenging, working out of the basement,” said Soderstrom, laughing. “The stairs. That was the hardest part, it wasn’t easy having to haul people up and down them.” Since then, Soderstrom has been a regular ‘Jill of all Trades’, stepping in over the years to help fill prescriptions and even taking courses to keep the heating system on at the clinic. Soderstrom says she’s looking forward to taking some time to work on some passion projects. “It’s been busy. You get in that work mode and it’s hard to get out of it, I’ve got to learn to relax and pace myself I think,” she said of retirement. “Once I get myself organized and sorted, I’d like to do some more watercolour painting and photography. Do some artsy stuff. I haven’t been able to do watercolours for six or seven years, just because it’s been too busy with work and home.” Northern Health is currently recruiting for a casual primary care nurse for Hudson's Hope. Email reporter Tom Summer at email@example.com.Tom Summer, Local Journalism Initiative, Alaska Highway News
LOS ANGELES — Native American tribes and advocates are condemning “Big Sky,” a Montana-set ABC drama, for ignoring the history of violence inflicted on Indigenous women and instead making whites the crime victims.They also have assailed the network and the show's producers for failing to respond to their complaints, which they first made known in a Nov. 17 letter. On Tuesday, the makers of “Big Sky” broke their silence.“After meaningful conversations with representatives of the Indigenous community, our eyes have been opened to the outsized number of Native American and Indigenous women who go missing and are murdered each year, a sad and shocking fact," the executive producers said in a statement to The Associated Press.“We are grateful for this education and are working with Indigenous groups to help bring attention to this important issue,” according to the statement. The producers include David E. Kelley ("Big Little Lies," “The Undoing”) and novelist C.J. Box, whose 2013 book “The Highway” was adapted for the series.Created by Kelley, “Big Sky” stars Katheryn Winnick and Kylie Bunbury as private detectives searching for two white sisters on a road trip who go missing and turn out to be part of a pattern of abductions.With a disproportionate number of American Indians among Montana’s missing and murdered girls and women, the fictional approach represents “at best, cultural insensitivity, and at worst, appropriation,” said the signers, including the Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council that represents all of Montana’s tribal nations.“I’m not at all surprised that they’re doing this because Hollywood’s been appropriating our trauma and our lived experience for years and years and years,” said Georgina Lightning, an actor and longtime activist. “And we’ve always cried about it. We’ve always called it out. But nobody ever cared. Nobody ever listened and nobody cared.”In the November letter, ABC was asked to consider adding an on-screen message steering viewers to information about the entrenched peril facing Indigenous women in North America. They cited “Somebody's Daughter,” a documentary detailing the murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls crisis, as it's known to those fighting the scourge.“This is such an easy fix for ABC to make,” the film's director, Rain, said in a statement. “Indigenous leaders are reaching out to ally and inform, to open a dialogue. They’re not asking for ‘Big Sky’ to be taken off the air,” he said, but instead be used to inform.When no response was forthcoming, the coalition took its effort public and enlisted support from other tribal organizations, including Canada’s Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs and the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen's Association.“Two-thirds of this country doesn’t even know that Native Americans still exist," said Tom Rodgers, president of the Global Indigenous Council and a co-signer of the letter to ABC. “We thought, what a teachable moment.”In response to the producers' statement, a skeptical Rodgers said Tuesday he hadn't heard from anyone connected with the show and called for further details, including which Indigenous partners were being consulted.While more than 5,000 Indigenous women were reported missing in 2016 in the U.S., reporting by The Associated Press has shown the number is difficult to determine because some cases go unreported, others aren’t well-documented, and a comprehensive government database to track the cases is lacking.Advocates, including some lawmakers representing Native Americans, also link the long-standing problem to inadequate resources, indifference and a jurisdictional maze. The rise of the MeToo movement helped give the issue political heft, but Hollywood has lagged in paying heed.While Lightning said she was “a little bit shocked” when she saw a Native American tragedy mirrored in a story but without Native American characters, her years working in Los Angeles meant she wasn’t surprised. Now living in Alberta, she’s in the Canadian miniseries “Trickster,” about a dysfunctional Native family.“There's such resistance” to change in Hollywood, she said. "When you’re used to being one of the good old boys... there's no way they think they’re going to have to conform to the rest of society. It’s such an arrogance.”Native Americans are used to being routinely ignored by American popular culture, registering barely a blip on TV as they're usually seen on only one or two shows, such as Paramount Network's “Yellowstone.” A University of California, Los Angeles, study released this year found that Indigenous actors were cast in six of 1,816 broadcast and cable series roles for the 2018-19 season.But being slighted on the crucial issue raised by “Big Sky” is too bitter a pill to accept, said Rodgers, a Blackfeet Nation member whose Global Indigenous Council, an advocacy group for Indigenous peoples worldwide, helped organize the outreach to ABC.“The one thing we won’t be anymore is ignored. We’re not going to be made invisible, we will not be erased," he said.____Lynn Elber can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and is on Twitter at http://twitter.com/lynnelber.___This story has been corrected to use the accurate pronoun for filmmaker Rain.Lynn Elber, The Associated Press
EARLTON – Skaters will have to lace up elsewhere in Earlton this year. Armstrong Township council agreed to not have ice installed this winter at the Earlton Recreation Centre. Options were discussed and the decision was agreed upon at council’s regular meeting November 25. Mayor Jean Marc Boileau asked council what they wanted to do in terms of having the ice installed or not. He commented that the town could create an outdoor ice rink outside of the Recreation Centre, but users still would need to come inside the building to put on their skates or use the washrooms. “We have washrooms here but then you also have the gym-goers on the other side,” he said. Issues also were raised that if the ice was installed, the town would have to monitor the number of users in the change rooms and building to remain in line with COVID-19 protocols. Councillor Kevin Léveillé noted that Earlton’s winter festival isn’t happening this winter and Boileau said that École catholique Assomption had told him that its students wouldn’t be skating at the arena this school year. Councillor Michèle Rivard commented that the Englehart and Area Community Arena Complex has its ice installed and that if Earlton didn’t put its ice in that “it sucks that we wouldn’t have ours open, but at least the kids could still do public skating and they would have to go there.” Councillor Matt Golcic said that he didn’t feel Earlton’s arena numbers were all that high anyway and wondered what they were last season. Boileau responded that the arena had about 342 users last winter and part of those numbers were children who would come over with the school, but also that it didn’t happen very often. “Last year was a bad year,” he noted. “I don’t know why.” Council then asked acting public works foreman Caleb Fotheringham what his thoughts were on having ice installed or not so that they could come to a consensus on a decision. Fotheringham said that with no school users or other events happening this winter that he would recommend that the town doesn’t have ice this year at the arena. “If you want to have ice, I’m sure we can make it work, but I would recommend (that we have) no ice.” Council agreed and approved a motion for an ice-free arena this season.Jamie Mountain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temiskaming Speaker
The Orangeville Public Library has followed the trend of finding creative solutions to Christmas in 2020, — new ways to bring their usual festive activities to children in the community. Beginning on Dec. 4, children young and old will be able to tune in every Friday and enjoy a recording of Santa reading around the fireplace. Videos will be posted to the Orangeville Public Library’s YouTube channel at 10 a.m. on Dec. 4, 11, 18, and on Christmas Day. Additionally, the library will extend the festive fun through holiday-themed story time craft kits for families to enjoy together at home. These kits will be available for pickup from the Mill Street branch beginning on Dec. 4, and are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. The Stories with Santa program has been a favourite at the library over the years, with one aspect of it being Santa’s annual gift of literacy. This facet of the festivities will not be forgotten with the virtual event. Beginning on Dec. 18, children will be able to pick up a wrapped picture book at the Mill Street Library. There is a limit of one book per child, and quantities are limited. Additional virtual programming is available online during the closures via the library’s YouTube channel. Notifications are available by subscribing to the channel. For more information visit www.orangevillelibrary.ca.Tabitha Wells/Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Orangeville Banner
The public hearing for the proposed Grassy Mountain mine continued hearing witnesses’ evidence and cross-examination during the week of Nov. 3. The scheduled topic items included geology, damming safety, accidents and malfunctions, industrial waste and waste management, and effects on the environment like climate change. Dam right Much of the discussion focused on the mine’s four surge and four sedimentation ponds. Surge ponds capture water from precipitation that passes under the waste rock deposits that may be tainted with selenium. Sedimentation ponds collect water for treatment and removal of suspended solids, aided by coagulating agents called flocculants and letting particles naturally settle. Explaining the nature of the ponds, said Benga’s vice-president of external relations, Gary Houston, was important because many opponents of the mine point to the danger posed by tailings ponds. Tailings ponds typically hold toxic materials left over from industrial processes involving water. Benga would not be using tailings ponds because the mine would mechanically dewater during its processes. Most of the ponds point toward Blairmore Creek, though two sediment ponds are near Gold Creek. The pond locations are needed to catch water flow from the mine, thus minimizing the risk of erosion and landslide. Proposed dam designs for each pond have followed guidelines set by the Canadian Dam Association as well as Alberta Dam and Canal Safety Directive. After construction, the Alberta Energy Regulator would provide regular monitoring. Opponents of the proposed mine project, however, were concerned Benga had not studied the consequences of a pond failing nor completed an emergency response plan. Though the mining company said creating these plans was subject to the project’s approval, critics responded that understanding Benga’s disaster processes was integral to fully analyzing risks associated with the project. “How can this panel make an informed decision about the risk of your project having impacts on the environment in the context of these sedimentation and surge ponds if, in fact, you haven’t done that study yet and you haven’t presented that evidence at this hearing?” asked Mike Sawyer, legal counsel for the Timberwolf Wilderness Society. “How can we make that decision? Are we just supposed to trust you?” Mr. Sawyer also said the proposal lacked any assessment of how dam failure would affect populations of the westslope cutthroat trout, which contravened expectations set out by the Species at Risk Act. Particularly important information missing was data on how the fish would react to the flocculants and sedimentation in the ponds next to Gold Creek should a leak occur. Issues with dam failure, responded Mr. Houston, were easy to exaggerate since even opening a floodgate would be classified as dam failure. Any effect on the trout from a pond bursting, he continued, would be reversible and only an issue in the short term and would be accounted for in Benga’s planning. “There is a process in place for dealing with these risks and we’re going to abide by that process,” Mr. Houston said. Even with Benga’s assurances that the dam design would mitigate flood risk, expert witnesses asked to participate by the Government of Canada said the dam designs were based on an inaccurate model of how much the average annual precipitation would increase over time. Dr. Ann-Lise Norman, an atmospheric physicist from the University of Calgary, said the issue was the scale used in collecting precipitation data. Benga’s calculations relied on too large an area as scale: a 90-kilometre area was used when industry standard is 10 kilometres. Data collection from Sparwood and Pincher Creek, Dr. Norman continued, was at locations too low in elevation to accurately predict what amount of precipitation should be expected at the Grassy Mountain site. “Higher spatial resolution is critical,” she said. “It produces more accurate results, and I think Benga’s maximum precipitation for Grassy Mountain was based on too low an elevation.” Nothing earth-shaking On top of concerns the mine would be susceptible to storms and flooding, local residents and environmental groups said approving the project would increase the risk of grass and forest fires. The main fear expressed was that distributed layers of coal dust on vegetation in the area would create a volatile situation should a wildfire start. Additionally, critics said Benga had not adequately addressed the risks associated with coal seam fires or coal dust explosions in its environmental assessment. Coal dust, however, was not viewed by Benga as a major issue as minimal amounts of coal would be stored at the site and coal transportation would all be done in covered chutes. “The biggest source of dust will be the road dust,” Mr. Houston said. The company would also have its own fire-protective equipment and trained staff on-site. Worries daily blasting at the mine would contribute to seismic activity in the area were viewed as negligible. Dr. John Cassidy, an expert on seismic hazards from the University of Victoria, noted only 11 earthquakes had been registered within 50 kilometres of the mine site in the last 40 years. The largest quake in that time was measured at a magnitude of 3.2 on the Richter scale. 719 mining blasts had been registered in that same time frame, supporting Dr. Cassidy’s experience that industrial blasting had never been seen to affect seismic activity in an area. The potential for blasting to cause landslides, however, was acknowledged as a risk inherent in the Grassy Mountain area. Benga had put forward in its assessment mitigation measures like annual ground condition inspections — increased after major precipitation — and a ground-monitoring program. Natural Resources Canada had reviewed the measures and found them satisfactory. Although the effect of blasting on Turtle Mountain was not considered significant, Mr. Houston said no specific discussion with the Alberta Geological Survey had occurred in regard to monitoring the mountain. Benga was also unsure if the AGS was monitoring Turtle Mountain for seismic activity. Given the lack of experience Benga as a company had in mining operations, the MD of Ranchland, said lawyer Michael Niven, did not have confidence in the company’s procedures and capacity to respond to emergencies. The gap was one Benga was willing to bridge, said Mr. Houston. “We could talk about the drilling and blasting procedures and the safety measures put in place, the scientific methods for monitoring the blasts,” he said. “Those are all things we’re prepared to discuss if that’s a topic that the MD would like us to come and talk to them about.” To this point, Benga has not had any discussions with the MD of Ranchland concerning the project.Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze
Here’s a collection curated by The Associated Press’ entertainment journalists of what’s arriving on TV, streaming services and music platforms this week.MOVIES— Film history fans will get a meal out of David Fincher’s “Mank,” about “Citizen Kane” screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz who is masterfully played by Gary Oldman. Shot in gorgeous black and white, “Mank” transports you into the depression era studio system, Upton Sinclair’s bid for governor, William Randolph Hearst and Marion Davies’s elegant parties and to that bungalow in Victorville where the first draft of the classic Orson Welles film was composed. Available on Netflix on Friday, “Mank” is one of the year’s very best films and both a tribute to and searing critique of Hollywood’s golden age. Amanda Seyfried, as Davies, is one of the great performances of the year.— Another film full of excellent performances is “Sound of Metal,” starring Riz Ahmed as a punk metal drummer who experiences sudden severe hearing loss. The film, which is captioned in English, dives into the world of the deaf community with Ruben (Ahmed) in a way you’ve never seen or heard before. It’s the directorial debut of Darius Marder (a writer on “The Place Beyond the Pines”), who assembled an crack team of sound mixers and editors to create a unique auditory experience to simulate what Ruben is going through as he loses his hearing entirely.— If $30 was a little steep for your tastes to rent the new live-action “Mulan,” it’ll finally be free for Disney+ subscribers Friday. From director Niki Caro, this adaptation of the Chinese folk tale about a young woman who disguises herself as a man and takes her father’s place in the army, is breathtakingly beautiful, from the stunning landscapes to the colorful costumes. Although it may fall short on the kind of intoxicating story magic that the Disney label signifies, it is worth a watch and may just inspire some curious young viewers to delve into more Asian cinema classics. Also, if you find yourself missing the songs and Eddie Murphy, the animated 1998 version is also available on the service.— AP Film Writer Lindsey BahrMUSIC— A house is not a home during the holiday season if Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” is not blasting – daily! During a normal, non-pandemic year, Carey and her Christmas craziness would be on a holiday tour, bringing joy to fans and lambs in-person. Because live shows aren’t really a thing in 2020, she’s launching a holiday TV special on Apple TV+ on Friday. “Mariah Carey’s Magical Christmas Special” will includes a mix of musical performances and dancing with amination. Ariana Grande, Jennifer Hudson, Snoop Dogg, Tiffany Haddish, Misty Copeland and Carey’s 9-year-old twins, son Moroccan and daughter Monroe, will make special appearances.— Shawn Mendes released his debut album in 2015 and he’s dropping his fourth effort Friday. “Wonder” continues to showcase Mendes’ growth as a singer, songwriter and performer. The album features the singles “Wonder” and “Monster” with Justin Bieber, which debuted in the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot chart this week. Along with the album is the Netflix documentary called “Shawn Mendes: In Wonder,” which is available for streaming and follows Mendes’ rise and journey over the last few years.— Christmas came early when Carrie Underwood released her first holiday album in September, and on Thursday she’ll debut a musical TV special to accompany the album. On HBO Max’s “My Gift: A Christmas Special from Carrie Underwood” — conducted by award-winning musical director Rickey Minor — the country superstar is backed by a live orchestra, choir and her band. John Legend makes a special appearance and viewers will get a behind-the-scenes look at Underwood’s 5-year-old son, Isaiah, recording his vocals for their version of “Little Drummer Boy.”— AP Music Editor Mesfin FekaduTELEVISION— “Selena: The Series” is described by Netflix as a coming-of-age drama that follows Selena Quintanilla from talented youngster to musical phenom, aided by her family. A breakthrough star in male-dominated Tejano music, the singer was just shy of her 24th birthday in 1995 when she was fatally shot by a former business associate. The two-part series debuts Friday with Christian Serratos (“The Walking Dead”) as Selena and Gabriel Chavarria (“East Los Angeles’) and Ricardo Chavira (“Desperate Housewives”) among the cast members.— The 11th and final season of the Showtime dramady “Shameless” debuts 9 p.m. EST Sunday, weaving the pandemic, urban gentrification and personal pressures into the lives of the Gallaghers of Chicago’s South Side. Aging patriarch Frank (William H. Macy) is facing the toll of longtime alcohol and drug abuse, while and Ian and Mickey (Cameron Monaghan, Noel Fisher) struggle as newlyweds. Deb (Emma Kenney) stands ready to give her all to single motherhood and Carl (Ethan Cutkosky) feels the same about his nascent law enforcement career.— Two respected veterans are behind “A Suitable Boy,” a limited series directed by filmmaker Mira Nair (“Monsoon Wedding,” “The Namesake”) and written by Andrew Davies (“Pride and Prejudice,” “House of Cards”). An adaptation of Vikram Seth’s 1,300-plus page novel of the same name, the 1950s, India-set drama revolves around a university student who’s shaping her identity as the newly independent country does the same. The all-Indian lead cast includes Tabu (“The Namesake,” “Life of Pi”) and Tanya Maniktala. The series debuts Monday, Dec. 7, on Acorn TV.— AP Television Writer Lynn Elber___Catch up on AP’s entertainment coverage here: https://apnews.com/apf-entertainment.The Associated Press
Sherbrooke — Alors que les mesures pour accroître l’autonomie alimentaire fusent depuis quelques mois, les agriculteurs urbains comme Agropol se sentent bien souvent oubliés. Ils ont beau « penser en dehors de la boîte », mais la boîte, elle, ne s’agrandit pas tellement, constatent-ils. « En tant qu’agriculteur urbain, on ne tombe pas dans la chaise de l’agriculteur traditionnel. On n’a pas nécessairement droit à de l’aide ou à la reconnaissance de tout ça. On n’est pas non plus un restaurant, donc on ne va pas avoir les subventions gouvernementales qui permettent de couvrir le loyer actuellement. On tombe vraiment entre deux chaises, c’est quelque chose avec lequel on vit depuis deux ans et demi. On apprend à voir ça venir et à le dévier d’une façon ou d’une autre et à essayer d’être inventif », confie Samuel Sigouin, copropriétaire d’Agropol, cette ferme urbaine qui cultive verticalement des pousses biologiques et qui se spécialise aussi dans la transformation alimentaire. Difficile par exemple de profiter des incitatifs d’expansion pour les productions serricoles annoncés vendredi dernier, même s’ils doivent contrôler l’environnement de leur culture, puisqu’un bâtiment ou milieu fermé ne fait pas partie des dépenses admissibles. Difficile aussi d’aller chercher une aide auprès de la Financière agricole, qui a refusé leurs demandes pour différents motifs, indique-t-il. « On se bat souvent pour des niaiseries. Et les jeunes entrepreneurs, on n’est pas non plus toujours pris au sérieux. On se fait demander une fois sur deux si on fait pousser du cannabis parce qu’on fait de la culture intérieure », témoigne M. Sigouin. L’entrepreneur déplore également l’absence de soutien de la Ville de Sherbrooke, qui n’offre ni programme d’accompagnement ni subventions pour ce genre de projets. La municipalité a bien un PDZA (Plan de développement de la zone agricole), mais il ne couvre que la région périurbaine. À quand donc un plan d’agriculture urbaine à Sherbrooke, comme l’ont fait Québec, Longueuil, et même la MRC de Rimouski-Neigette ? Gabrielle Rondeau-Leclaire, présidente de REVE Nourricier (Réseau d’espaces verts éducatif et nourricier), pose la question. « Il y a une effervescence à Sherbrooke et j’ai confiance que l’agriculture urbaine pourrait prendre sa place, plaide-t-elle. Le problème c’est qu’on n’a vraiment pas de soutien concret du côté municipal. On n’a pas non plus de structure qui encadre l’agriculture urbaine en ce moment. En mon sens à moi, parmi les gens qui constituent la relève agricole de demain, la plupart habitent en ville. Les gens qui ont les étoiles dans les yeux et toute la gang d’étudiants qui sont à l’université, qu’on le veuille ou non, ils vivent en ville. Et tous ces gens-là n’ont pas vraiment de contact avec l’agriculture ou même avec la source de leur alimentation. Je pense que c’est en faisant de l’agriculture urbaine qu’on vient éduquer la population et qu’on vient éventuellement créer de la relève », dit Mme Rondeau-Leclaire. « Nouvelle ère » L’élue municipale Nicole Bergeron, présidente du Comité consultatif agricole de la Ville de Sherbrooke, démontre une grande ouverture devant ce genre de projets à Sherbrooke. Mais avec un PDZA qui vient à peine d’être lancé (mars 2018) et des élections dans moins d’un an, il faudra fort probablement attendre le prochain mandat pour un véritable plan d’agriculture urbaine, dit-elle. « En temps de pandémie plus que jamais, on demande aux gens d’être créatifs, innovants, et de sortir des sentiers battus. On a tous des défis pour dire comment on peut arriver à faire en sorte d’aider un entrepreneur qui, avec son projet, est un peu différent de ce qu’on a l’habitude de voir. [...] Ça, il faut le faire d’une façon concertée et faire le tour du dossier avec les différents partenaires qui peuvent aider une entreprise », commente-t-elle sans ne pouvoir cibler précisément le cas d’Agropol. Celle-ci assure également que « Sherbrooke sera là » en ce qui concerne le développement du secteur serricole enclenché par le gouvernement à l’aide d’un investissement de 112 M$. « On est dans une nouvelle ère et il faut s’adapter. On peut penser qu’on aura une réflexion plus globale à faire pour voir comment on peut atteindre une plus grande autonomie alimentaire [...] Il y aura sûrement bientôt plusieurs projets qui seront présentés. En amont, on va réfléchir où on souhaite le faire, comment et avec qui. » Même que Mme Bergeron n’exclut pas de rendre le zonage plus flexible à l’endroit de projets d’agriculture urbaine. Une stratégie à venir Le ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation indique de son côté « travailler ardemment à ce que les producteurs agricoles urbains trouvent leur place à l’intérieur des mesures du Ministère » et mentionne que les agriculteurs urbains sont considérés au même titre que les agriculteurs ruraux en ce qui a trait aux programmes et initiatives bonifiés dans les dernières semaines. On affirme également qu’une deuxième stratégie de soutien à l’agriculture urbaine est en cours d’élaboration. Celle-ci s’intéressera, comme la première, à l’agriculture urbaine commerciale, communautaire et citoyenne, promet-on. La première stratégie du genre, instaurée par l’ex-ministre Pierre Paradis sous le gouvernement Couillard, est venue à échéance en 2019. Jasmine Rondeau, Initiative de journalisme local, La Tribune
Legendary wrestler Pat Patterson has died at the age of 79, World Wrestling Entertainment confirmed in a statement on Wednesday.The Montreal native, whose birth name was Pierre Clermont, devoted decades of his life to wrestling, with an in-ring career that spanned from 1958 to 1984. After making his debut on regional fight cards in Quebec, he moved to the U.S. in the early 1960s. In 1979, he became WWE's first Intercontinental champion.After announcing his in-ring retirement in 1984, he worked as a colour analyst and in various roles behind the scenes with the head of the company, Vince McMahon. The promotion was then called the World Wrestling Federation.In 2016, Patterson published his autobiography, Accepted: How the First Gay Superstar Changed WWE, in collaboration with author Bertrand Hébert. Patterson's sexual orientation was widely known in wrestling circles, but he announced it publicly in 2014.Known as "le Rêve du Québec" for his exploits in the ring, he also became known for thinking of creative ways of ending wrestling matches. He came up with the concept of the Royal Rumble, an elimination match that traditionally features 30 wrestlers and has gone on to become one of WWE's most popular events. In WWE's statement, Patterson's career is described as being ''synonymous with making history.""From the Intercontinental Title to the Royal Rumble Match and beyond, his name will forever be revered in WWE lore," read the statement.Patterson was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1996.
A Windsor elementary school outbreak with 49 cases set the "precedent" for asymptomatic COVID-19 testing in the province, according to one expert.Biostatistician Ryan Imgrund, who is based in Newmarket, Ont., and works with a number of public health units across the province, told CBC Radio's Windsor Morning that the outbreak at Frank W. Begley Public Elementary School set the example of what should be done. "At the time that they found those cases, Windsor was not one of those super danger zones like Toronto, Peel and some other areas like that," Imgrund said. "So I don't think it was expected by anyone that a school that is in a lower-risk area would find up to 50 cases ... I think Begley set the precedent for the whole entire province what we should be doing." After three staff members tested positive for the disease, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit dismissed the entire school on Nov. 17 and advised everyone to get tested. COVID-19 testing was prioritized for the entire school population, with a temporary testing site set up in the school's gymnasium. Overall, 40 students and nine staff members have tested positive. In the same week that Begley was declared an outbreak, W. J. Langlois Catholic Elementary School also went into outbreak and dismissed all students after two positive cases. Testing was prioritized for all members of this group, with a temporary testing site set up in the school, and seven people were confirmed positive. Despite this, and the fact that Begley is the largest school outbreak in the province, Windsor was not included in the launch of an asymptomatic testing pilot project announced last week. Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce said Thursday that the pilot is available for students and staff in the province's COVID-19 hotspots of Toronto, Peel, York and Ottawa. "Right now, the next four weeks are targeting the highest-risk regions," he said at the time. "We're following the advice of public health. If they determine, they provide a recommendation it should be expanded or we should augment the list, of course we will continue to follow that direction and implement it swiftly."Lecce told reporters that 99.85 per cent of students in the Windsor-Essex region remain COVID-free, and he and his staff are in contact with school board and public health officials to keep transmission down.Though Begley remains closed, superintendent of education at the Greater Essex County District School Board Sharon Pyke told CBC News Wednesday that the board is working with the health unit and hopes to announce a reopening date this week. A letter sent out to parents in regards to the outbreak had asked them to have their child tested, even if they were asymptomatic. When asked whether she'd like to see asymptomatic testing in schools available in the region, Pyke said it might be best to spare our resources. "I think that if we can keep on top of doing our self-assessments, I think that we perhaps may be better served in terms of our resources in our area, we want to make sure that we're able to test the people that need to be tested," she said."So do I agree? Any kind of preventative measure is good for anyone so of course I want the best for students, I want the best for our staff. I just want to make sure that they're allocated in the right space and the right spot." An investigation by the local health unit is still ongoing to determine how COVID-19 transmission was so widespread in Begley.
A Saskatoon man accused of robbing numerous businesses, residences and vehicles across central Saskatchewan was re-arrested. Cody Kemick, 37, failed to appear in court in October and was arrested and remanded in custody. At a bail hearing on Nov. 27 he was granted bail but he remains in custody because he hasn’t paid the bail for his release yet. Kemick and Chantal Dubois, 40, were arrested after police raided his Saskatoon home May 2. Police say that between Feb. 4 and April 26, 2020, they received numerous reports of break, enter and thefts across central Saskatchewan. Several police agencies worked together and Kemick was identified as the suspect. At Kemick’s home, police found computer equipment allegedly stolen from Western Wireless in Unity on April 18, 2020. They also located what they believe to be stolen tools, computers, electronic devices, ammunition, cheques, salon products, lottery tickets and clothes from businesses, residences and vehicles in Saskatoon, Unity, Lucky Lake, Dinsmore, Rosetown, Kerrobert, Aberdeen, Humboldt, Milden, and Conquest. Kemick was charged with three counts of break and enter, 10 counts of possession of stolen property, theft and mischief. Dubois was charged with break and enter, and seven counts of possession of stolen property. Dubois had also previously failed to appear in court and a warrant to hold was issued until Nov. 25. On that day a lawyer appeared on her behalf and the warrant was vacated. Dubois is now scheduled to appear in Saskatoon Provincial Court on Dec. 16 to elect how she wants to be tried. Kemick is scheduled to appear next in Saskatoon Provincial Court Dec. 17, also to elect how he wants to be tried. Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
Newer SUVs and trucks with key fobs top the list of the most often stolen vehicles in Canada, the Insurance Bureau of Canada said Wednesday.The group that represents insurance companies across the country said theft from your own driveway using widely available electronic tools is on the rise across the country, as thieves respond to demand from high-end buyers overseas and street racers here at home.The four-door 2018 Honda CRV with all-wheel drive holds the ignominious title of being the most stolen vehicle in Canada this year, with 350 thefts reported by insurers across the country — nearly one per day. When the 2017 and 2019 models are included in the tally, there were 758 stolen — that's more than two per day.Here's the rest of the list:There is wide variety across the country, too. In Alberta, all of the most-stolen vehicles are versions of pickup trucks: F150s and F350s from Ford, and Dodge Rams."These trucks are attractive to thieves, and oil and gas companies have used them almost exclusively, which has brought a disproportionately high amount of them to the province," the IBC said.In Ontario, however, the list is mostly high-end SUVs from Toyota, Honda and Lexus. Some of those get sold abroad, but many are chopped up for parts, the IBC said. Atlantic Canada had a mix of both, with popular sedans such as the Honda Accord and Chevrolet Cruz mixed in. The most stolen vehicle in Atlantic Canada was the Chevrolet Silverado, which is typically targeted for export by criminal groups.Drivers often worry about something like their window being smashed and their car being stolen that way. But cheap and plentiful tech tools make it far easier to steal a car today. Bryan Gast, national director of investigative services at IBC, said in an interview with CBC News that the biggest trend he's seeing this year is what's known as a "relay attack.""That means they're acquiring your signal from your key fob, cloning your key fob and [then] have the ability to start your vehicle without ever having the original key fob," he said."It's as simple as walking to your front door, seeing if they're able to capture a signal of a key fob that might be inside. They don't go anywhere in your house. They're capturing it from the outside. And they have the ability to technologically clone the device and have the ability to start your car and drive off."New tech 'makes it easy for the criminal'The best tool to fight electronic theft, Gast says, is to not do what most people do — come into their house and leave their keys in a bowl or some other exposed place, just behind the front door. He recommends instead getting a metallic box for the car keys, one that blocks radio frequencies."If you put it in a box, it doesn't emit the radio frequency. Basically, it is in a protective box or a pouch and [criminals] don't have the ability to capture that key fob signal."Cars manufactured since 2008 have mandated some sort of car-immobilizing technology built into them that makes the car not start unless you have the right technologically equipped key, and that has changed the trends in car theft ever since, Gast says. "A lot of the time, as people leave the key fobs in their vehicle, that's where they keep it. They make it easy to hop in, push the button to start and off they go. But it also makes it easy for the criminal, too."There's another built-in vulnerability in something many drivers do as a precaution: when in a parking lot, they double-check their car is locked by hitting the key fob.But a thief in the area with the right technology can clone the fob from that."You're emitting that frequency, which can also be captured," Gast said.A lot of the most-stolen vehicles are higher-end, expensive and large cars that can be hard to acquire outside North America, which is why Gast says a big motivator for theft isn't a criminal looking for a joy ride or to sell it locally. The thief often has a specific request for a specific vehicle and then sets about finding it.Convenient technology is just making it easier, such that currently, a car is stolen somewhere in Canada every six minutes.Theft on the rise in COVIDWhile COVID-19 has led to more cars being parked due to people working from home, it has also led to an increase in one type of car theft, Gast says. Namely, people looking for specific parts and vehicles to be used in street racing events and other reckless driving behaviour."The problem is stealing parts for some of these modified vehicles in the vehicles themselves," he said. "Law enforcement definitely has their hands full."