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Alberta health scofflaws face $1,000 fines

“These powers are being enforced through Ministerial order, under the Public Health emergency but they will be coming to the legislature in the near future to seek to actually make the necessary amendments on a permanent basis,” Kenney said.

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Premier Jason Kenney said he is bringing in new health regulations that will see people ignoring social distancing and isolation rules fined up to $1,000.

After the province invoked a state of emergency under the Public Health Act, it broadened the powers of the provincial government to amend and introduce new laws.

“The overwhelming majority of Albertans have been very responsible and civic-minded in responding to this crisis,” Kenney said.

“Most of us understand that we all have a role to play in limiting the spread of the disease by staying at home as much as possible, practicing rigorous personal hygiene, maintaining a safe distance from other people, and respecting the restrictions that have been put in place to limit social interaction.

“Sadly, not everyone seems to get it.”

This, after reports of overcrowding at Edmonton parks and children’s play areas across the provnce.

“Too many people continue to ignore these guidelines that have been issued by Dr. (Deena) Hinshaw and the government of Alberta. In so doing, they endanger the health of others, particularly the most vulnerable,” Kenney said.

“Today we are moving from asking people to act responsibly to instead using the full force of the law to legally require that people act responsibly to protect public health.”

“Through amendments to the procedures, regulation under the provincial offences procedures act, community peace officers in addition to police, will now be able to issue tickets to enforce COVID-19 public health orders.

“These provisions include the current limit on mass gatherings to 50 attendees, and mandatory self-isolation for people in the following circumstances: any individual diagnosed with COVID-19, or exhibiting the symptoms of COVID-19, such as cough and fever. Anyone retunring to Alberta from outside of Canada and all of those who have had close contact with an individual who is confirmed or probable case of COVID-19.

“To be clear, returning international travellers must self-isolate for 14 days or they will be subject to the newly-imposed significant penalties. All others including confirmed or probable cases of COVID infection and those in contact with confirmed or probable cases, must self-isolate for at least ten days.”

Ten days or when symptoms disappear, whichever is longer, said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health.

“These legally binding rules include operational daycares, except for those for whom we are making exceptions to support critical care workers and core-service workers,” Kenney said

“Public recreational facilities, bars and nightclubs, and non-essential visits to continuing care and long-term care facilities.”

“So, if you violate the rules that we have laid down, you will now be subject to stringent penalties and fines with rigorous enforcement behind them.

“To drive hom the importance of everyone adhering to these laws for the protection of public health, community peace officers and police will be able to issue fines of up to $1,000, per violation, through tickets.”

Kenney said the government is consulting with municipalities about the possibility of expanding enforcement powers to municipal bylaw officers as well.

“Courts will also have increased powers to administer fines of up to $100,000 for a first offence and up to $500,000 for a subsequent offence or for more serious violations.”

These new fines will be in force over the coming days, Kenney said.

“These new enforcement measures are a reasonable, prudent, but necessary response to the escalating COVID-19 outbreak in Alberta,” said Kenney.

“These powers are being enforced through Ministerial order, under the Public Health emergency but they will be coming to the legislature in the near future to seek to actually make the necessary amendments on a permanent basis.”

“When life returns to normal, we will no longer require these kinds of extraordinary powers but right now we must use every tool available to ensure public safety.”

Deirdre Mitchell-MacLean is a Senior Reporter with Western Standard
dmaclean@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter @Mitchell_AB

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NDP calls on Kenney to release details of Keystone deal

Kenney announced on Tuesday his government was providing $1.5 billion in equity investment and a $6-billion loan guarantee to TC Energy to get the Keystone XL project completed but so far no details have been publicly released.

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NDP leader Rachel Notley has called on Premier Jason Kenney to release of the details of the province’s $7.5 billion deal to help get the Keystone pipeline built.

Kenney announced on Tuesday his government was providing $1.5 billion in equity investment and a $6-billion loan guarantee to TC Energy to get the Keystone XL project completed but so far no details have been publicly released. 

“We support the oil and gas industry and that’s why we also support the Keystone XL pipeline because we understand its strategic value to Alberta’s oil and gas industry,” said Notley in a release Thursday.

“That is why, when we were in government, we supported it by committing to ship 50,000 barrels per day. However, the Government of Alberta’s commitment of up to $7.5 billion of Albertans’ money is unprecedented and people deserve to know the details of the deal and the genuine risks associated with this project.”

Kenney said after the project is completed the government would sell its shares back to TC Energy but he did not say at what price.

“Given that Albertans are now financing a major portion of Keystone XL, the Opposition requests that TC Energy and the UCP government provide further oversight of how public dollars are spent. This includes ensuring workers have a seat on the company’s board of directors, guarantees that payroll is maintained, collective agreements remain in place, and all construction labour is procured through unionized building trades,” the NDP release said.

“The NDP Opposition will be proposing an amendment to the motion, asking the government to provide full disclosure of the deal to the public and that all members of the Legislature be briefed on the associated costs, benefits, and risks. A second amendment will propose to refer the deal to the Public Accounts Committee for further analysis and consultation with the Auditor General to ensure Albertans are getting good value for money.”

Notley’s call for transparancy was welcomed by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

“This is a ton of tax dollars, full transparency is a MUST. The Premier must also continue to report back to Albertans on the progress of construction, provide updates to show what’s happening with our money and get taxpayers’ money back ASAP,” tweeted Franco Terrazzano, Alberta director of the CTF.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter: @Nobby7694

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Indigenous youth group panned for planned trip to Coastal Gaslink pipeline

In an online posting last week, the Indigenous Youth for Wet’suwet’en, said they were travelling to B.C. and asked for public support in terms of dollars and supplies.

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A group of Indigenous youth are being pilloried online for planning to travel to Wet’suwet’en land in B.C. to monitor construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline.

In an online posting last week, the Indigenous Youth for Wet’suwet’en, said they were travelling to B.C. and asked for public support in terms of dollars and supplies.

This despite orders from as high as the prime minister for people to stay home during the coronavirus crisis to avoid possibly spreading the virus.

There are also restrictions on crowd sizes across the country – B.C. currently has a maximum of 50 people.

The tweet also calls for donations of video cameras, drones, sleeping bags, first-aid kits, batteries and generators.

Close to $11,500 had also been donated by Thursday afternoon.

The plan didn’t sit very well with most people in the twitter thread.

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A request for comment from the Indigenous Youth for Wet’suwet’en so far hasn’t been returned.

But a statement on their website reads: “As Indigenous youth we stand with the Wet’suwet’en nation’s assertion of sovereignty because we understand that Indigenous Peoples will cease to exist without our land; our languages, cultures, and future generations cannot survive without it.

“Indigenous youth are not only inheriting a climate crisis driven by fossil fuel projects like CGL, but Canada’s legacy of colonization, genocide, and gendered violence against Indigenous women, girls, and Two-Spirit people. In protecting the lands from industrial development, we are protecting our bodies from violence.”

In a posting on their website, Coastal GasLink said they have completed their winter construction season.

“Coastal GasLink has been reducing our workforce numbers across northern British Columbia, to approximately 400 by the end of last week from 1,200 in February. During the week of March 30, the workforce ramp-down will conclude in advance of the spring thaw, as we have now completed our winter construction program,” the company said.

“To ensure our construction footprint is safe and secure during the spring thaw, we will continue to employ residents and local contractors to perform critical activities, including environmental monitoring, pipe delivery and stockpile. Local contractors will undertake some off right-of-way site preparation and maintenance as the spring thaw does not impact it.”

The pipeline has the support of all First Nations along the route, but hereditary chiefs of Wet’suwet’en Nation, through which 28% of the 670-km route passes, oppose it.

A group of unelected hereditary chiefs had set up a camp near Smithers and had kicked out Coastal GasLink workers.

The RCMP said they have found traps like felled trees and three stacks of tires along with flammables along the access road.

On Jan. 7, 2019, RCMP arrested 14 protesters along the B.C. logging road. 

International attention was drawn to the issue when a British newspaper reported RCMP were ready to shoot protesters when they broke up the camp. The RCMP denied the story.

On Dec. 31, the B.C. Supreme Court granted CGL an injunction against members of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation from blocking the pipeline route near Smithers, B.C.

But the situation has been further complicated after a Jan. 3 edict by the Unist’ot’en, a smaller group within the First Nation, that they intend to terminate an agreement that had granted the company access to the land.

The RCMP checkpoint had been set up at the 27-km mark of the forest service road “to mitigate safety concerns related to the hazardous items of fallen trees and tire piles with incendiary fluids along the roadway.”

The $6.6 billion pipeline, to be operated by TC Energy Corp, would transport gas from near Dawson Creek in northeast B.C. to Kitimat on the coast and supply Canada’s largest liquefied natural gas export terminal, called LNG Canada, which is under construction.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter: @Nobby7694

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Municipal board to keep working as UCP review goes on

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A bid to stop the work of a regional planning board because of the coronavirus crisis has been shot down, as a government review into their work continues.

Members of a Calgary Metropolitan Region Board committee voted 6-3 Thursday morning to keep their operations ongoing.

The move comes after a $3-billion development west of Calgary was shelved last month, with operators partly blaming the NDP-formed committee as just another layer of bureaucracy they have to go through.

Greg Boehlke, of Rocky View County, brought forward the motion for the CMRB to cease operations until the pandemic has ended saying “there are more important issues.”

He said the continued operation of the board during the pandemic was “a vulgar display of using taxpayer dollars.”

But Calgary Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra was against the motion saying it was important “to keep staff working.

“Some work must go forward. Some work must be changed. Some work must be delayed,” he said.

Bill Robertson, the mayor of Okotoks, argued in favour of the motion, saying the board must be “as prudent as possible with taxpayer dollars.”

In a letter, Western Securities (WS) – the backers of the $3-billion Gardner project off Hwy. 8 – told the Jason Kenney government the CMRB was one of the reasons they were shuttering the project. They had been working on the proposal for 16 years.

“At every turn, Calgary has blocked or bullied Rocky View County from approving the project.  This after us spending millions of dollars on planning and engineering studies.  And now, the Calgary Metropolitan Region Board, with Calgary directing regional planning decisions, is the last straw for Western.,” WS President Ryan O’Connor wrote in the letter obtained by the Western Standard.

The project would have seen mixed use residential / commercial development with over 2,000 homes and approximately 300,000 sq.ft. of retail / commercial development, seniors housing and a sports centre. 

Alberta Municipal Affairs Minister Kaycee Madu is looking into the CMRB’s actions.

When asked by the Western Standard if the government had any plans to scrap the CMRB, Municipal Affairs spokesman Tim Gerwing replied: “The Minister is currently reviewing the efficacy of Growth Management Boards in Alberta and all options are on the table.”

Sources have told the Western Standard other projects around Calgary are also now in jeopardy because of the excessive red tape.

“We are very concerned about reports of Growth Management Boards hindering responsible economic development in our province. The Minister is considering this in his review,” said Gerwing, adding the 16 years it took WS to get to this stage as “an overly-long timeline for development.

“The government is working extremely hard to eliminate red tape and pass policies that inspire investment and job-creation in our province. Municipal Affairs, in particular, has been a leader in red tape reduction within government. The Minister is reviewing Growth Management Boards to see whether they align with the government’s goals and will have more to say on this soon” said Gerwing.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter: @Nobby7694

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