Archive for November 2018

Dozens of people gathered for a candlelight vigil on Friday night to remember a six-year-old boy who died after falling through the ice in Airdrie on Monday afternoon.

The boy and his brother were walking on the thin ice in Bayside when they both plunged into the water.

READ MORE: Memorial grows for Alberta boy who fell through ice in Airdrie

“As a sign of our love and support, we are asking Airdrie to come out and show this family that their community is here for them to lean on, to give support and love to them now and in the days, weeks and months to follow,” the organizer wrote in a Facebook group.

The vigil took place at the Bayside Bridge. Those in attendance recited the Lord’s Prayer and sang Amazing Grace as people placed candles, teddy bears and flowers along the bridge deck.

Watch below: A community in Airdrie continues to come to grips with the sudden and tragic loss of a little boy. A 6-year-old plummeted through thin ice on a neighborhood waterway. His 10-year-old brother is still recovering. Jill Croteau has the latest.

The six-year-old boy was airlifted to the Alberta Children’s Hospital in critical, life-threatening condition where he passed away.

His older brother was taken to hospital by ambulance in stable condition and was released the following day.

READ MORE: 6-year-old boy dies, brother in hospital after falling through ice in Airdrie

Watch below: The community of Airdrie is in shock after the death of a little boy and the near drowning of his brother. They were playing on a canal when they went through the ice. Kim Smith reports.

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Related

  • Memorial grows for Alberta boy who fell through ice in Airdrie

  • 6-year-old boy dies, brother in hospital after falling through ice in Airdrie

RCMP have confirmed the presence of lethal W-18 in drugs seized in Surrey.

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W-18 is a powerful opioid 100 times stronger than fentanyl. It was previously discovered in Vancouver last April and also found in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

According to a release, Surrey RCMP seized pebble heroin in December 2016. The drugs were sent to Health Canada for analysis and recently came back positive for W-18.

In a similar case, West Shore RCMP on Vancouver seized what they believed to be cocaine in May 2016. The white powder substance was sent for analysis and tested positive for an analog of fentanyl – a new strain of the deadly opioid not seen in the region before.

At the time of the seizure, West Shore RCMP reported three overdoses in their jurisdiction.

“These lab results are once again prompting us to warn illicit drug users that it doesn’t matter where you buy your drugs, or who you get them from,” said BC RCMP’s Investigative Services and Organized Crime assistant commissioner Jim Gresham. “The danger is the same if you’re in the big city or in a small community. I cannot stress that enough – there is no safe haven.”

“You must be aware that at any time dangerous and potentially lethal drugs may be present in what you’re consuming. Unfortunately, there is no way for you to know what is really being sold to you. Please take steps to avoid making a potentially lethal decision,” he added.

The RCMP says it is currently investigating several cases of illicit drug trafficking and continues to receive more notices from B.C. communities regarding the presence of fentanyl in drugs.

Where does W-18 come from?

The drug comes from a “W-series” of opioid compounds first discovered at the University of Alberta in 1982, according to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control. There are 32 compounds, W-1 to W-32, with W-18 being the most toxic.

W-18 is not currently regulated under the Controlled Drug and Substances Act and can be manufactured and bought freely, according to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

With files from Paula Baker

For sports fans, the next 18 months will be extra special as Regina will be hosting five major sporting events and at least one high-profile concert.

In 2017

Aug. 27: Guns N’ Roses Concert at new Mosaic Stadium

Sept. 5-10: Grand Slam of Curling’s season-opening Tour Challenge at the Co-operators Centre.

Oct. 26-29: Skate Canada International at the Brandt Centre

In 2018

Mar. 8-11: Canadian University Women’s Basketball Championship at University of Regina

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Mar. 17-27: Memorial Cup at the Brandt Centre

The Brandt Centre will still need to undergo upgrades to get it ready for the centennial Memorial Cup.

“We do know that there will be a requirement for more seats and we’ve accommodated that in the past for other events,” Regina Exhibition Association communications manager Paula Kohl said.

The whole property is really built around attracting those events, so we’re ready, bring it on.”

As the Brandt Centre prepares for upgrades, so too is Regina’s airport.

YQR airport boasted record-breaking passenger numbers last year, and that trend is expected to continue.

“We hit an all-time record of over 1.26 million passengers,” Regina Airport Authority president and CEO Richmond Graham said.

Graham said he expects to see passenger traffic double within the next decade and said the airport is ready to welcome the influx of visitors coming into the city.

“The mornings are very busy and the gate space are sometimes limited. But we do have expansion plans that we are working on,” Graham said.

“We see expansion to meet that requirement and we need to build into the future.”

Longtime volunteer Bernadette McIntyre said people have already started asking about volunteer opportunities.

“Right after we announced the Brier, we were getting calls. People were saying you know when it’s time to sign me up, let me know,” McIntyre said.

Despite a couple of events coinciding, McIntyre said she doesn’t believe there will be a shortage of volunteers nor volunteer fatique.

“We do have a little bit of overlap with the Brier and the CIS Women’s Basketball Championship but I think we got enough volunteers to make both those events huge successes,” she said.

McIntyre estimates there will be 600-700 volunteers for the Tim Horton’s Brier.

“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this out that those teams with new stadiums at some point will get a Grey Cup to show support for them,” Mayor Michael Fougere said Thursday.

“I am wanting a Grey Cup, I’ll say that much. Whether it happens is another issue. I’m pushing for that,” he said.

“Stay tuned.”

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Dwayne Schnell was released on $3,000 no-cash bail Friday. The 37-year-old is facing a number of child pornography charges after an investigation by the Alberta Law Enforcement Teams (ALERT) Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) team.

Friday’s decision was a joint release between defence and the Crown.

Schnell will be residing in Calgary with his parents. He can not leave the province of Alberta. He has to report to a bail supervisor and can not work or volunteer in any position of trust or authority with children under 16.

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Related

    Lethbridge teacher facing child pornography charges: ALERT

  • Lethbridge teacher facing child pornography charges: ALERT

    READ MORE: Lethbridge teacher facing child pornography charges: ALERT

    Police said the investigation first began in January 2017 when ICE was given a tip from the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) about a user who was uploading child sexual exploitation materials. The ICE team did not know the user was a teacher until recently.

    ALERT said the ICE team arrested Dwayne Schnell on Wednesday. He is charged with possession, accessing and distributing child pornography. A number of computers and electronic devices were seized from his home in Lethbridge and will be examined.

    Part of his release conditions are:

    He cannot have any device capable of accessing the Internet, like a computer or cellphone and can only go online at a public library.A peace officer or probation officer can conduct a warrant-less search of his residence at any time to make sure he is not using a computer or the Internet.He cannot have any contact with any children under 16 years of age, accept for his own two children (with his wife or parents present).He can’t have any type of recording devices like a camera or video recorder.He must not attend any area where children under 16 could be present like parks, schools, swinging pools, playgrounds or a daycare.

    Schnell has hired defence lawyer Greg White.

    He will be back in court for his next appearance March 24.

Shortly after being sentenced to 10 years in prison for a drunk driving crash that killed Jordan and Chandra Van de Vorst along with their children Kamryn and Migure, Catherine McKay was moved from a jail cell to a healing lodge.

It left Jordan’s father Lou Van de Vorst hurt and confused.

“When you say the words ‘federal penitentiary’ and ‘healing lodge,’ they have two different connotations. That’s what upset us … the consequences aren’t there,” Lou explained on Thursday.

WATCH: Lou Van de Vorst reacts to Catherine McKay’s move to a healing lodge

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Related

  • First Nations members question safety of healing lodges after dangerous offender escapes

  • Dangerous offender Darrell Moosomin denies escaping from Alberta healing lodge

    After Lou Van de Vorst spoke out about the move, it had many online outraged that McKay was getting off easy. But not many knew exactly what goes on at healing lodges.

    READ MORE: Drunk driver who killed 4 in Sask. sent to healing lodge; sparks community concern

    Correctional Service Canada (CSC) has nine healing lodges across the country, including three in Saskatchewan.

    Okimaw Ochi, located near Maple Creek is the only one in the province for women. Five of the facilities are managed by indigenous communities and the other four are managed by CSC in close collaboration with indigenous communities.

    In a statement, CSC said they offer a broad range of correction programs and interventions to decrease an inmate’s chance of re-offending. This includes healing lodges which are designed particularly to address the needs of indigenous offenders using culturally relevant correctional programs.

    “These correctional programs enhance public safety by making offenders accountable for their behaviour, changing their attitudes and beliefs, and teaching skills that can be used to cope and help address their behaviour.”

    READ MORE: Somber anniversary marked by Van de Vorst family

    In order to get into a healing lodge, an indigenous offender must demonstrate an interest in traditional healing paths and successfully complete various culturally appropriate interventions.

    “Based on a healing and holistic approach, indigenous programs target offenders’ needs in the context of indigenous history, culture, and spirituality while at the same time addressing the factors related to criminal behaviour. Aboriginal correctional program officers, elders, spirituality and ceremony are integral to program design and delivery.”

    According to CSC, healing lodges are an important part of preparing indigenous offenders for reintegration from custody into the community.

    There is no time limit for an inmate to stay in a healing lodge.

    Ed Dean, a Salvation Army clergy who has been involved in faith programs at Okimaw Ochi for 10 years, said the facility works to improve the inmates “whole self.”

    “It’s a sacred space. It’s a great spot for being with the creator and getting in touch with mother earth,” Dean said via Skype on Friday.

    “When they understand themselves and their culture, it’s a different way of life. It creates a positive way of life for them so they don’t return to their old ways.”

    READ MORE: Families impacted by drunk driving welcome new changes to Sask. impaired driving laws

    Dean said the women have to wake up at a specific time and be ready for counts. The day always starts with a ceremonial spiritual time. From there, the women go onto daily programming which is individualized and can include schooling and learning trades. It’s all about giving the inmates skills to succeed once they’re out.

    “Some of them are coming in with a low education and they’re leaving with a Grade 12 diploma.”

    “I would say that there should be more healing lodges in Canada. It’s a positive form of doing justice.”

One indicator of the strength of the tourism industry in the Okanagan is what’s happening at the Kelowna International Airport.

“When we talk air traffic, in 2016 it grew 8.6 per cent overall,” Airport Director Sam Samaddar said.   “140,000 passengers in a single year. Those are remarkable numbers.”

Tourism Kelowna collects data on how many hotel rooms are filled at any given time and those numbers are up too, climbing about 3.5 per cent over 2015.

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“Most importantly, we see increases in the shoulder seasons in the spring and fall, and that’s Tourism Kelowna’s strategy; to really build on those shoulder season months,” Jennifer Horsnell, director of sales with Tourism Kelowna, said.

New annual arrival statistics show that in 2016, B.C. saw a 12.3 per cent increase in international visitors.

Several factors are being credited for the increase in tourism from outside the country; a low Canadian dollar, international marketing of B.C. to the world and increased air access.

At YLW, Air Canada’s new direct flight between Brisbane and Vancouver is helping attract more Australians to the valley.

“We’re meeting those flights with larger A319 aircraft from Vancouver to Kelowna.  On some of those flights 40 per cent of passengers are destined for the Okanagan,” Samaddar said.

Both Westjet and Air Canada are increasing the size and frequency of flights to Toronto as well, which is another airline hub.

“The reason Toronto is so important, especially the link to the international component, is that one stop links Kelowna to 50 destinations globally,” Samaddar continued.

The airport is also in negotiations with its major airlines to begin operations into Europe.  Kelowna International Airport numbers show demand is high enough to warrant non-stop European flights once a week, at least during peak summer and winter seasons.

One person suffered minor injuries trying to put out a fire inside an auto-repair shop in London, sparked by residual gasoline in the fuel tank of a vehicle he was working on.

“He was using a blowtorch, I believe, to heat up one of the ball joints, and that’s really what started the fire,” explained District Fire Chief Andy Britton, who says crews had the blaze under control within five minutes of arriving at Lambeth Service Centre in the city’s southwest end.

Britton says there were two mechanics in the shop at the time of the blaze; the man who suffered injuries refused an ambulance, but was advised to seek medical attention.

Police were the first to arrive on scene when the call came in around 12:30 p.m., and warned of potential explosions.

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“I heard a bang, but I always hear bangs coming from there,” said Joe Hackman, the shop manager of the neighbouring Stucco and Foam Centre, who went around to the back of the plaza-style building to see the shop engulfed in black smoke.

“There were flames all around the area; there was a car on fire inside. So the car was completely burning and there was buckets of oil burning and some gas on the ground burning – but the flames weren’t escaping the building because there’s no hole in the roof, and it was all smoke coming out. The fire was just contained inside.”

Fire Prevention Officer Jack Burt estimated the damage at $100,000, but said the investigation is in its early stages and the total cannot be finalized until the building has been examined.

“The garage itself was full of high-end electronics and a whole bunch of other items. So I think the loss would be significant,” Britton said.

Although crews were able to get the blaze under control quickly, Britton said the location proved to be difficult.

“There weren’t a lot of hydrants that we could access – the nearest one was on Wharncliffe Road,” he explained. “We would have had to do a relay. That’s why we were bringing in our tankers, and we were pumping from them. Our one pump ran out of water probably within the first five minutes.”

Britton says since the property sits over a water well, the Ministry of Environment was called in to make sure gasoline and oil didn’t seep into the ground.

The decision to move a drunk driver who killed a family of four, from a jail cell to a healing lodge has left many people shocked and looking for more justice.

Catherine McKay was sentenced to ten years in prison for killing the Van de Vorst family just north of Saskatoon in January 2016 while driving drunk. She spent a month in jail before being moved to the Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge in Maple Creek, Sask.

“I feel for the family. They’ve gone through four deaths, and then they get this kind of news, they’re devastated. We feel sorry that they have to go through this,” Andrew Murie, Mothers Against Drunk Driving CEO, said.

“A lot of times with impaired driving, because they’re not seen in the system as violent offenders, routinely they’re out in communities after one sixth of their sentence, and so people get really frustrated with this,” he said.

WATCH: What is a healing lodge?

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Related

  • Van de Vorst family upset Catherine McKay sent to healing lodge

  • Somber anniversary marked by Van de Vorst family

    Catherine McKay pleads guilty to impaired driving after crash that killed Van de Vorst family

    Healing lodges are correctional institutions that use aboriginal values and traditions to help offenders. According to the Correctional Service of Canada’s website, each unit contains a bedroom, bathroom, kitchenette and living room.

    “It seems a bit ridiculous to harm so many people and just go to a lodge,” Tasha Hodzic said.

    As Saskatchewan struggles to fix its drinking and driving culture, there’s concern that sending McKay to a healing lodge isn’t enough of a deterrent for future offenders or enough justice for the Van de Vorst family.

    “It’s disappointing. I don’t think that sends a good message to people who are considering taking those actions and drinking and driving. It doesn’t deter people at all,” Hodzic said.

    However, many people also pointed out the need to rehabilitate offenders.

    “Hopefully she’ll be suffering for what she’s done, so perhaps the benefit of going to a healing lodge rather than spending that length of time in prison would have more benefit in the end,” Anne Reid said.

    “At times I guess we would want more vengeance for things that happen that are evil, unfortunately it’s not going to make things any better,” Gordon Blackmore said.

    “I don’t think we want to be a society where we feel we should just put people in prison to punish them and have them try to bring back those lives, because it’s not just going to happen,” he said.

    “It’s unfortunate, but the deterrent is the likelihood of getting caught. So we need to do a better job in Canada on that, but there should be long sentences and there should be communication with the victims of crime,” Murie said.

Alberta Associate Health Minister Brandy Payne says four nurse practitioner projects involving mobile bus units will focus on aiding Albertans with higher medical needs.

Boyle McCauley Health Centre, The Alex Community Health Centre, Pure North S’Energy and CUPS will receive a total of $10 million over three years split between the four groups. This will give nurse practitioners the opportunity to work with both registered and licensed practical nurses.

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  • Alberta announces increased health-care services for Sylvan Lake and area

    Alberta Health Minister speaks about elder abuse

    Alberta’s goal with the Alex buses are to provide “first-stop” medical aid along with ongoing health assistance when needs are high.

    With the program underway, CEO of The Alex Community Health Centre Shelly Heartwell said at a Friday event they will offer extended hours for more clients to access their services and open up evening and weekend hours when traditional clinics aren’t available.

    “We are excited that these funds are going to open up doors for these programs.”

    Heartwell said the funding will provide more hours to potentially hire a mental health therapist, as mental health issues are a big part of the client population at the Alex Health Centre.

    “We can provide increased mental health care, addiction supports and systems navigation, allowing us to provide quality care for an increasing population of vulnerable Calgarians,” Heartwell said.

    Eric Lavoie, president of the nurse practitioner association of Alberta, said there are roughly 500 licensed nurse practitioners in Alberta to provide assistance on either acute or chronic disease management.

    “We are pleased to be working collaboratively,” Lavoie said.

    Lavoie acknowledged Albertans want a wide range of care close to home, with services that are cost effective. Both the Alberta Chamber of Commerce and the Municipal association of Alberta are calling for the integration of nurse practitioners across Alberta’s health care system.

    “The Nurse Practitioner Association of Alberta is keen to see Albertans benefit from nurse practitioner care across the health-care system,” Lavoie said.

A Calgary man who killed his mother in Hawkwood nearly a decade ago has been granted some new freedoms.

Gregory Hetrick was convicted of second-degree murder in the March 2007 death of his elderly mother, Margaret.

Court heard Hetrick strangled and stabbed the 79-year-old following a drunken argument over getting more cash for booze.

He then took her body to the garage and covered it in plastic.

In April 2009, Hetrick was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 10 years.

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In documents obtained by News Talk 770, he has been described as a “model inmate”, maintaining a compliant behaviour and taking advantage of the programs available to him.

“Your motivation, accountability and social reintegration potential are assessed as high,” said the Parole Board of Canada in its written decision.

“During your incarceration, you have put the necessary efforts in order to work on your risk factors and acquire a better understanding of your criminal cycle throughout various interventions, including correctional programs, self-help courses and individual counselling,” the decision continued.

Hetrick has completed about 50 escorted passes from jail, and in a hearing earlier this month, was granted unescorted passes.

While the panel noted Hetrick’s acceptance of his issues with substance abuse, it concluded other contributing factors like personal, emotional and marital/family still need work.

“Although you also mentioned other factors, it was quite obvious for the board members that you did not work enough on these other factors,” the decision read.

In the hearing, Hetrick was denied day parole and full parole, with the board stating that the unescorted passes are well-structured and a good next step in his reintegration plans