Richmond Green Park development approved by Calgary city council

Calgary city council has given the green light for a development on the northwest corner of Richmond Green Park to go forward.

Councillors voted 9-5 to approve the land-use change and development in the park space, but full approval will be withheld until after the ongoing council meeting.

Councillors Jeromy Farkas, Joe Magliocca, Sean Chu, Diane Colley-Urquhart and Mayor Naheed Nenshi were opposed.

Farkas, who represents Ward 11 and is running for mayor, objected to the third and final reading of the bylaw. Third reading requires unanimous consent to finalize the approval.

Nenshi said he anticipates that vote will come down Wednesday.

Read more:
Calgary’s Richmond Green Park being assessed for development: ‘It’s a mid-city oasis’

The Richmond Green area, which is about 52 acres in size and owned by the City of Calgary, sits between Crowchild Trail and Sarcee Road just south of 33 Avenue S.W.

The land includes the former Richmond Green golf course, a shuttered city operations depot, tennis courts, a large ball diamond, two small ball diamonds, a small office building, a toboggan hill and a playground.

As part of the plan approved by council, the two smaller ball diamonds will be removed and 5.5 acres of park space will be sold to allow for a development that includes commercial space as well as multi-family homes.

According to city administration, money from the sale of the land would go towards creating more park space through remediation of the former golf course, which the city closed in 2019.

“This means investment dollars today to figure out what we do with the closed golf course,” Ward 8 councillor Evan Woolley said. “As opposed to the suggestion that this goes to November’s budget and be included in a priority list, as all parks are, and we know that list is very long.

“This opportunity (allowed) us to creatively fund more park space than we have today.”

The money will also go to the removal and remediation of the the former city works depot, which also needs to be decontaminated as it served as a storage space for road salt, administration said.

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Dozens of speakers took part in the public hearing, which began late Monday night and continued throughout the majority of the day on Tuesday.

Many, if not all, were in opposition of the land-use change and development.

“We’re immensely disappointed,” Lloyd Bumstead said following council’s decision.

“There was a massive amount of outrage over this and at least eight councillors ignored the overwhelming majority of residents who oppose this.”

Bumstead, who is with the Richmond Knob Hill Community Association, was one of the speakers who outlined concerns the sale would result in less park space for the community and that it would set a precedent for the city to sell off park space to private developers in other areas around Calgary.

But city administration noted the plan would see four acres of additional park space added once the remediation is finished on the golf course and the depot.

“It’ll be a bigger park. It will be a better park. It will be modernized,” Nenshi said.

“It will have significant investment in facilities that citizens want and need. It will be bigger than the park is today.”

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Although the plans call for a new diamond to be built to replace the two that are being removed, council voted to ask administration to do further community engagement to determine what amenities residents in the area want to see as part of the upgrades.

Work on an updated master plan on the park — with that community engagement — is expected to be back in front of the new council next spring.

“We need to engage those people who are interested in engaging, and as I’ve said this publicly before, the Rutland Park Community Association engaged in significant amounts of obstructionism and misinformation,” Woolley said.

“We cannot engage with people who are not willing to engage with us thoughtfully and honestly; I think that’s going to be a challenge for the next Ward 8 city councillor.”

Leanne Ellis with the Rutland Park Community Association said that while they were disappointed with the decision, residents would be looking into an appeal process.

“Certainly we will reach out to our residents and encourage them to be engaged on this matter,” Ellis said.

“Right now, there is no trust. There is no trust in what happened at council. There is no trust that administration has been listening to us.”

According to Nenshi, the land will now be prepped for sale, a process expected to take a few months.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

City of Morden declares extreme drought, asks residents to reduce water usage

The dry conditions are hitting Morden especially hard as the city declared an extreme drought Tuesday.

The dry conditions are hitting Morden especially hard as the city declared an extreme drought Tuesday.

The current lake level is 8’11” below the full supply level, and officials are hoping they can reduce the water usage in the city by 30 per cent.

Among other recommendations, the city is asking residents not to wash vehicles at private residences and for commercial car washes to reduce hours of operation by 20 per cent.

READ MORE: Extreme drought pushing farmers to the brink

Splash pads will not be operated and water from the city should not be used to fill pools.

Any activities which result in water spraying or draining on the street are not allowed while there is a mandatory maximum one day per week schedule for garden watering.

 

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Lethbridge residents to provide input on potential 3rd bridge in October's city election

WATCH ABOVE: Voters in Lethbridge will have the opportunity to share their opinions on more than just the candidates when they hit the polls in October. As Danica Ferris explains, city council has voted to add another question to ballots.

When Lethbridge residents head to the polls this fall, they won’t just be electing eight city councillors and a new mayor.

On Tuesday, the current city council voted 6-3 in favour of a motion from Mayor Chris Spearman — who will retire at the end of his second term — to include a question on election ballots, gauging community appetite for construction of a third river crossing before 2030.

Read more:
Lethbridge election ballots to include question on potential ward system

The question will read: “Do you agree that city council should approve plans to construct a third bridge prior to 2030 as a municipal capital project priority?”

The addition to ballots becomes the second question that will be asked by the City of Lethbridge after another was approved two weeks ago. That question will ask whether residents are in favour of using a ward system to elect councillors starting in 2025.

“Giving all citizens the opportunity to have input on this, as I said when we discussed the ward system, it’s not about whether we should have a ward system or not, it’s should we ask the question? It’s the same on the third bridge — should we ask the question?” Spearman asked.

Despite his upcoming retirement, the mayor said he plans to be quite active in his final three city council meetings.

“I’m in a really enviable position,” he said. “I can bring forward a lot of things that don’t have a political tint to them, in the sense that I’m not doing it to get re-elected.”

Read more:
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Some of Spearman’s colleagues raised concerns that voters wouldn’t have the full picture when voting on whether they are in favour of the project.

As part of the motion, council is directing administration to provide neutral information on the city’s website for voters. According to the city, that information will include:

  • Expected capital cost
  • Current traffic volumes, including peak and non-peak times of day
  • Impact of borrowing required funding on municipal taxes
  • Impact of external grants, if received from provincial and/or federal governments
  • Expected economic benefit due to construction
  • Expected economic benefit post construction
  • Ongoing budget pressure associated with ongoing maintenance
  • Estimated impact of greenhouse emissions and environmental impact

“It’s non-binding, we need to remember that,” said Coun. Blaine Hyggen, who is running to become the next mayor of Lethbridge. “When it comes back to council, this is not going to be binding, but I just want to make sure that the questions that are on the ballot, that people research them and they know what they are asking for.”

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Lethbridge city council approves CIP plan as questions continue about budget cycle process

A preliminary design phase for the Chinook Trail River Crossing is expected to cost $4 million in 2027. The project is included in the 2022-2031 Capital Improvement Program, but is outside of the current four-year approval window. Council approved the projects for 2022-2025 earlier this year.

Projects scheduled beyond 2025 will need to be approved by the incoming council.

Spearman said while a third bridge would no doubt come at a very high cost, the results of a vote like this could be used to council’s advantage when looking for government funding.

“What provincial government, who wanted to win seats in this city in the future, could say, ‘We’re not going to fund a third bridge in the city of Lethbridge?'” Spearman asked. “So it could be a political asset to the next city council.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

City councillor demands answers from Delta police over handling of scandal involving chief's wife

A Delta city councillor is demanding more answers about what happened behind the scenes at the Delta Police Department while it responded to a scandal involving the chiefs wife. Catherine Urqhart has the details.

A city councillor is demanding answers to what happened behind the scenes at the Delta Police Department while it responded to a controversy involving the police chief’s wife.

Lois Jackson, Delta’s former mayor and a current city councillor, put forward a notice of motion at a council meeting on Monday night that calls for more information on the disclosure of invoices from a public relations firm that was hired to coach chief Neil Dubord and other high-ranking members of the force while Dubord’s wife was under a criminal investigation.

“People have wondered just what the truth is now and I guess that’s what I’m looking for,” Jackson said.

Jackson said she has heard from members of the public after a Global News investigation revealed how a communications firm Navigator was paid more than $43,000 to coach Dubord, Deputy Chief Norm Lipinski and members of the police board amid a criminal investigation into Lorraine Dubord spraying Surrey resident Kiran Sidhu with a hose.

Read more:
Documents reveal who crisis PR team coached and how as Delta police responded to scandal

“I’m alarmed that they received such detailed training for every aspect that that was happening at the time,” Sidhu said. “So not only for their media statements but also for their RCMP statements, which seems a little bit unethical to me.”

Global News was given access to some of the Navigator invoices, which were released seven months following a freedom of information request and an appeal to B.C.’s information and privacy commissioner after police refused to produce the documents.

Read more:
Watchdog report clears Delta police over handling of hose-spraying investigation

A review of the Delta Police Department’s handling of the complaint found no misconduct on the part of the force or its senior officers.

The Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner said earlier this year that it did not support charges of neglect of duty and discreditable conduct against the force and two senior officers.

Charges against Lorraine Dubord were later resolved through a non-criminal process known as alternative measures.

Jackson’s notice of motion specifically asks that the Delta Police Department and the Delta Police Board “respond to the public‘s questions that members of the department stated they were arm’s length from proceedings when it appears they were not.”

“They’re saying that this is a private issue and FOI can’t let you know these things, et cetera, et cetera, and I have some real trouble with that,” Jackson said. “Government has got to be transparent and it’s got to be truthful.”

Read more:
Delta, B.C., police hold back info on PR firm hired after allegations against chief’s wife

B.C.’s Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner said it “is aware of the recent reporting on this matter and are monitoring,” adding that “confidentiality provisions of the Police Act generally prohibits us from discussing specific investigations.”

Jackson also wants to know how many officers have left the force in recent months and their reason for departing. That issue and the crisis management coaching are expected on the agenda at Delta’s next council meeting on Aug. 9.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

'We've really reached a tipping point': Scarred by COVID, Chinatown leaders want city to remember its commitment

As tourists and shoppers disappeared from Vancouver's Chinatown during the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a proliferation of graffiti, vandalism and garbage. In part 2 of 'Chinatown Unmasked', Kristen Robinson looks at what the city is doing to address the mayhem, and why the historic neighbourhood often feels forgotten by government.

Crippled by crime and street disorder, the current “For Lease” landscape in Vancouver’s Chinatown is littered with the scars of its COVID-19 battle.

“It’s saddening to see that people treat it with such disrespect,” said Vancouver Chinatown Business Improvement Association president Jordan Eng.

As a Realtor, Eng’s name is on many of the signs that started appearing on empty storefronts, as tourists and shoppers disappeared from Pender and Keefer streets during the pandemic.

Commercial break-and-enters rose by more than 60 per cent in 2020, according to crime statistics from Vancouver police.

Mischief, including vandalism and graffiti, also increased by 20 per cent, year over year.

Read more:
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All of the mayhem is costing the surviving businesses.

“It’s scaring people away from Chinatown,” City Coun. Pete Fry told Global News.

Fry and his colleague, Coun. Sarah Kirby-Yung, recently worked to gain a temporary reprieve on graffiti fines.

“We’ve actually asked the city to work with the BIAs where there’s businesses that are really being prolifically targeted for nuisance tagging,” said Fry.

“That we find a better solution than fining them or threatening them because obviously it’s no fault of their own.”

The city confirmed that fines pertaining to the removal of graffiti in all downtown areas, including Chinatown, have been “relaxed” to help support economic recovery.

Still, Chinatown business leaders have said they often feel forgotten by all three levels of government.

Chinese Cultural Centre chair and Chinese Benevolent Association president Fred Kwok said he wonders where the area’s tax dollars are going.

“The cultural centre pays close to $100,000 a year for the property tax in lieu of rent, and all this to (the) city, and we actually got pretty much no service in return,” Kwok told Global News.

Said Eng: “It’s easy to ignore us. We’ve really reached a tipping point where it’s not acceptable.”

When asked if he thinks the city has ignored Chinatown, Mayor Kennedy Stewart said he’s “really sympathetic for the merchants there.”

The BIA, which met with Stewart over safety and cleanliness concerns in 2019, wants a consistent response in terms of city services.

Eng’s message for the mayor: “Remember Chinatown and remember your commitment.”

Read more:
‘It’s like a war zone’: Chinatown businesses say crisis on the ground needs urgent fix

Stewart said council has committed $1 million for general graffiti and garbage removal across the city, with $50,000 specifically for Chinatown.

The city has also expanded its services to help address the pandemic’s impact on public-realm cleanliness and graffiti in the neighbourhood.

New higher-capacity litter cans have been installed, five micro-cleaning or garbage-and-needle collection shifts have been added per week, and a new feces collection pilot is in place under a grant program.

Sanitation staff have been added to boost core cleaning in Chinatown, including more frequent flushing and sweeping of sidewalks and alleys, and the collection of abandoned trash.

Read more:
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Police have also stepped up patrols in the area since a community policing centre opened next to the cultural centre in May.

“We’re throwing lots at Chinatown,” Stewart told Global News while acknowledging more could be done.

“We know it’s not enough at this point, so we will be increasing our efforts as we move along.”

Asked whether Chinatown would see a consistent city response going forward on safety and cleanliness, the mayor said staff look at the hardest hit areas when preparing budgets each year and make recommendations as to where council may want to put extra resources.

Said Vancouver East MP Jenny Kwan: “Chinatown as we know will disappear if we do not get the support from all levels of government.”

Kwan wrote Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland in July 2020, calling for a lifeline for the National Historic Site in the form of federal emergency funding.

In comparison, federally-owned Granville Island received $17 million in emergency relief in 2020, with another $22 million earmarked in the 2021 budget.

Read more:
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She told Global News she received no response.

“I’d like to ask the government what is the difference between Granville Island and Chinatown. Are we less important?”

Global News put the question to Freeland, but she did not offer a clear answer, and instead used the opportunity to praise the federal wage and rent subsidies.

“I’ve had personal testimonials about the extent to which our business support programs have been helpful, including very much for Vancouver’s Chinatown,” said Freeland from Longueuil, Que.

Overall, the Chinese community is encouraged by municipal efforts to clean up Chinatown, and hopes the work will continue.

While the heritage neighbourhood may be battered and bruised, advocates say it won’t be crushed.

“We mustn’t give up, because Chinatown is worth the fight,” said Kwan.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Canada's Penny Oleksiak wins record 6th Olympic medal at Tokyo Summer Games

Canada’s Penny Oleksiak has won her second medal of the Tokyo Olympics and sixth of her career, taking bronze in the women’s 200-metre freestyle swim Wednesday.

The medal makes Oleksiak the most decorated Canadian athlete to ever compete at the Summer Games.

Her six-medal haul also ties the 21-year-old with the most decorated Canadian athletes in any Olympics, joining speed skater Cindy Klassen and cyclist and speed skater Clara Hughes in the record books.

Oleksiak finished with a time of 1:54.70, just over a second behind gold medal winner Ariarne Titmus of Australia, who set a new Olympic record. Hong Kong’s Siobhan Bernadette Haughey nabbed the silver.

Read more:
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The race also proved to be disappointing for American favourite Kathleen Ledecky, who took the gold medal in the same event at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio and has also won six Olympic medals overall — all but one of which are gold.

Oleksiak’s win comes after she took the silver medal in the women’s 100-metre freestyle relay, which she won with three other teammates on Sunday.

It’s also the latest medal won by Canada’s women swimming team, which has earned a gold in the 100-metre butterfly and a silver in the 100-metre backstroke.

In addition to her two Tokyo medals, Oleksiak won four medals at the 2016 Games, the first Canadian ever to do so in a single Summer Olympics. She was also Canada’s youngest-ever Olympic champion at just 16 years old.

Oleksiak will continue to seek her third medal of the Games later on Wednesday when she swims in the 100-metre freestyle semifinal.

More to come…

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Some restaurants, pubs in Kelowna temporarily closed because of positive COVID-19 tests

Just weeks after getting the green light to reopen, some restaurants and pubs in Kelowna have temporarily closed because of positive COVID-19 tests.

The closures come as confirmed COVID-19 cases climb in B.C., with the Interior Health region having by far and away the most daily new cases.

On Tuesday, for example, Interior Health had 95 cases. Next was Fraser Health at 32 cases, then Vancouver Coastal at 17.

Read more:
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It was the same on Monday, with Interior Health at 78 cases, followed by Fraser Health at 26 and Vancouver Coastal at 11.

Businesses that posted on social media they were shutting down because of COVID-19 included the Kelowna Yacht Club’s member lounge, Central Bar and Kitchen, BNA Brewing, Rusty’s Sports Lounge, the Train Station Pub and Mid-Town Station Kitchen and Drink.

A winery has also closed its doors, Mt. Boucherie Estate Winery in West Kelowna, after a staff member tested positive.

On its Facebook page, the winery said, “honesty is the best policy, and we feel as though closing our doors until further notice ensures we are doing our part in curbing the spread throughout our staff and community.”

The yacht club said two colleagues within the member lounge team tested positive with COVID-19.

“Neither of these colleagues have been in our building since Thursday, July 22,” the yacht club said on its website, “however, in an abundance of caution, we believe that closing the member lounge is the only way we can remove any possibility of spread.”

Those comments were also echoed by the other establishments.

“We have always believed in full transparency with our community and feel it only appropriate that we are open and honest,” Central Bar and Kitchen said on its Facebook page.

“As per information from Interior Health, we have become aware that several restaurants, bars and nightclubs are experiencing outbreaks.

“We feel it our social responsibility to close for a short period of time to ensure we are doing our part in curbing the spread throughout our neighbourhood.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Saskatchewan children 6-11 with autism now eligible for up to $6,000 a year

WATCH: A Saskatoon organization has found creative ways to let kids stay connected and even improve social skills thanks to technology.

Starting Tuesday, older children with autism will get some money from the Saskatchewan government to cover services they need.

Children between six and eleven with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can now qualify for Autism Individualized Funding.

Read more:
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The money was allocated in the 2021-2022 budget. Kids between six and 11 with ASD can now get up to $6,000 a year, while children under six with ASD can receive up to $8,000 annually.

“This funding gives parents and caregivers flexibility to choose from a range of eligible therapeutic interventions and family support that best suits their child’s individual needs,” said health minister Paul Merriman.

Merriman said the money can go toward services and programs that help improve the child’s functional abilities, such as receiving mental health help like psychologists or psychiatrists, to physical therapy and speech language pathology, and even respite care to help the family.

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“Each child is unique and the supports they may need will also be unique to them,” said social services minister Lori Carr.

“Individualized funding allows parents and caregivers to choose the programing supports that best suit their child’s individual needs.”

Autism Services of Saskatoon said it’s important for services and programs to be customized around each individual child, and this funding will help parents do that more easily.

While they said it is a great move, they noted more is needed for older kids and young adults.

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“Once they become an adult they don’t stop having autism,” said development coordinator Carol Tebay.

Tebay said they moved services to group sessions because there’s so much need.

“We just could not do specific, individualized service to every single child every single term. We had to break that up a bit to try and serve as many people as we possibly can,” she said.

In an emailed statement, the province said it expects this expansion will help around 1,000 families in Saskatchewan.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Winnipeg Jets complete another trade to acquire Nate Schmidt from Canucks

Winnipeg Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff has never been very active in the trade market, preferring to build his team through the draft-and-develop model, but that was until 24 hours ago.

The Jets made a trade to bolster their blue line for the second straight day as they acquired another stud defenceman in Nate Schmidt in a deal with the Vancouver Canucks.

Read more:
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The Jets only surrendered a single draft pick to obtain Schmidt, giving up a third rounder in the 2022 NHL Draft to get the blue-liner.

The Jets once again got the benefit of a team needing space under the salary cap with the Canucks shedding Schmidt’s big contract that carries an average cap hit of $5.95 million per season for the next four years.

Schmidt, 30, played only one season with the Canucks. He notched five markers and 10 assists in 54 games during the pandemic-shortened season.

Read more:
Winnipeg Jets sign Paul Stastny, trade for defenceman

He played the previous three campaigns for the Vegas Golden Knights after breaking into the league with the Washington Capitals in 2013. He has 450 games of NHL experience.

Vancouver also acquired him for a third round pick from Vegas just a year ago.

The trade comes just a day after the Jets picked up defenceman Brenden Dillon from the Capitals for a pair of picks.

Read more:
Potential high for Winnipeg Jets after challenging season: Stastny

In the last 24 hours, the Jets not only signed pending unrestricted free agent forward Paul Stastny, but they also acquired two top-four defencemen, all for the price of two second round draft selections and a third round pick.

Suddenly the Jets have a glut of talent on their backend. The Jets now have $22 million committed to seven defencemen, and restricted free agents Neal Pionk and Logan Stanley still need new contracts as well.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

LGL health unit warns about 'escalating crisis' of overdoses in region

WATCH: The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit is warning the public of an overdose crisis in the region, with multiple fatal overdoses in the past two weeks.

The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit is reporting a significant uptick in overdoses since 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic started, which has continued to escalate into 2021.

In the first six months of this year, the health unit received 195 overdose reports, which includes fatal and non-fatal overdoses.

Compared to 165 reports for the total of 2020, this means that halfway through 2021, overdose reports have already surpassed the entirety of the previous year.

Read more:
COVID-19: KFL&A Public Health push for those aged 12-17 to get vaccinated this week

Harm Reduction Coordinator for the health unit, Jennifer Adams, says that the region is reaching a crisis point.

“A lot of people think that this is just an urban problem. And I think, you know, absolutely urban, but rural we really, really struggle to manage the situation,” says Adams.

“We don’t have access to as many resources as people do in the urban centres. We’re really a small handful of people dealing with an escalating crisis.”

She says that while this is a problem in multiple regions, for them, a lack of resources makes things even more difficult.

“We can’t be reliant to try and send people to Ottawa or into Kingston to get help, because people don’t want to go to Ottawa or Kingston to get help. They want help within their own community, but we just don’t have the resources to offer people,” she says.

“Our community looks towards myself and my handful of colleagues that I work with as the experts, but we don’t, we’re out of answers at this point,” Adams says. “We don’t know where to go next with this.

“And what can we do in such a rural area where there’s very little resources, very little capacity on workers to manage this.”

Read more:
‘She lost her will to live’: Ontario caregiver reflects on mother’s time in long-term care during COVID

The health unit says the illicit drug supply in the region is contaminated with ingredients that naloxone overdose kits will not work on, making the situation even more dire.

“We’re tired. The families are tired, the community is tired, the front-line workers are tired.”

Adams wants to remind people that calling 911 is the most important step to saving someone’s life, and is often overlooked or forgotten in these circumstances.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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