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Red Deer Shooting, Severe T-Storm Watch, Gospel Music Celebration

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3:42 pm – Penhold Fire crews were called out to a potential gas leak at an apartment building on Fleming Avenue around 1:30 pm Thursday afternoon. Five people were evacuated but were eventually allowed to go back in once there were no H2S readings confirmed.

3:32 pm – Wetaskiwin RCMP are investigating a stabbing that resulted in the suspects from Maskwacis fleeing from police and driving into the side of a brick building. A 32-year-old Wetaskiwin man sustained two stab wounds to his back. Read More.

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3:29 pm – An Order in Council at the Alberta Legislature on Wednesday, July 12th, dissolved the Village of Botha east of Stetttler. As a result, the former area of the village will now be designated as a hamlet and become part of the County of Stettler No. 6, effective September 1, 2017.

3:22 pm – Alberta Government officials say a private courier’s van was stolen on June 23rd that had mail to be delivered in Red Deer. Read More.

3:17 pm – Lacombe County and the Town of Blackfalds celebrated the official commissioning of the new Rescue / Pumper unit Wednesday night and invited the community to get a close-up look at the new fire truck. Read More.

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12:01 pm – The Town of Sylvan Lake is hosting a fun and unique event this August Long Weekend. Are you brave enough to take part? Read More.

11:39 am – Check out the Blackfalds Community Market at the Multi-Plex Arena Parking lot today from 4 – 7 pm! Read More.

11:18 am – Due to repeated misuse and vandalism, the Burnt Lake Recycling Facility will be closing. If you wish to drop off your recycled goods you may do so at the Horn Hill Waste Transfer Station. Read More.

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10:56 am – Minister of Alberta Agriculture and Forestry Oneil Carlier will address the delegates of the Agriculture Service Board at a Pancake breakfast in Olds on Friday, July 14th. The 2017 ASB Tour is a jointly hosted tour of innovative agriculture in Red Deer County and Mountain View County. The tour began July 11th and wraps up on July 14th. It includes tours of various farming operations and tourism locations in both counties, as well as impressive ag-related demonstrations and discussions at Olds College. Hundreds of Ag Service Board delegates from across the Province will be in attendance during the 4 day event.

10:44 am – Alberta Agriculture and Forestry has deployed 125 firefighters and support staff, five air tankers, two birddog planes and 3,000 lengths of hose to British Columbia to help with the wildfire efforts. Also, Alberta RCMP are sending 40 members from the Special Tactical Operations unit. Read More.

10:36 am – More than 350 Alberta Health Services (AHS) ground ambulances will soon be equipped with power stretchers and load systems to help reduce injuries for paramedics. Read More.

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10:30 am – A Severe Thunderstorm Watch has been issued for the Red Deer Region today. Details Here.

10:25 am – Red Deer RCMP are investigating a targeted shooting that sent a man to hospital with a gunshot wound to his leg, and are looking for public assistance to identify the two men who dropped him off at the hospital shortly before 8 pm Tuesday night. Read More.

10:20 am – A Red Deer man faces charges after he assaulted a Community Peace Officer in downtown Red Deer Wednesday evening, fled on foot and was located after a police dog track. Read More.

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10:06 am – The Bard on Bower returns for it’s 7th season of live Shakespearean Frolic tonight! Read More.

9:58 am – Sunshine and live tunes on the Ross Street Patio today! Enjoy, you deserve it! Details Here.

9:46 am – A Canadian Gospel Music Celebration gets underway at Red Deer’s Westerner Park today for the next three days! Details Here.

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9:38 am – Lots of construction throughout Red Deer today. Avoid the traffic delays by knowing where the current road closures are!

9:30 am – Some parts of Red Deer’s Westpark neighbourhood have Boil Water Advisories in place today, including some addresses on Welton Crescent and Waghorn Close. Read More.

9:25 am – Air Quality Advisories remain in place for areas to the west and north of Red Deer today, while some areas to the south are under Heat Warnings. Read More.

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CDC says people with mixed-dose COVID-19 vaccinations will be eligible to enter U.S.

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WASHINGTON — It’s the news nearly four million Canadians have been waiting to hear: people who received doses of two different COVID-19 vaccines will qualify as fully vaccinated when the U.S. reopens its land borders to non-essential travel next month. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made the announcement late Friday, capping a whirlwind week of developments signalling the imminent end of 19 months of pandemic-induced North American travel restrictions.

People with “any combination” of two doses of a vaccine approved by either the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or the World Health Organization “are considered fully vaccinated,” the agency said in a statement. 

“While CDC has not recommended mixing types of vaccine in a primary series, we recognize that this is increasingly common in other countries so should be accepted for the interpretation of vaccine records.” 

The news also confirms what the White House acknowledged earlier Friday would be a likely development: that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, approved by the WHO but not the FDA, would be deemed acceptable. 

The CDC had already given the green light to overseas travellers who received the AstraZeneca vaccine, but until Friday had not expressly confirmed the same policy for those crossing into the U.S. by land.  

Earlier in the day, White House officials said the new rules would go into effect Nov. 8, both at the land borders and for people arriving from a number of overseas countries where travel to the U.S. has been banned since March 2020. 

The U.S. won’t ask its forthcoming visitors to submit to a COVID-19 test prior to departure, unlike Canada, which requires travellers to show proof of a recent negative test — a costly condition of entry that runs about $200 a pop.  

New York congressman Brian Higgins, who has been relentlessly campaigning against the travel restrictions for months, is urging the federal government in Ottawa to reconsider that rule. 

“I think that the U.S. decision to allow Canadians coming into the United States without a test again underscores the potency of the vaccine,” Higgins said in an interview Friday. 

“I would like to see that reciprocated by our Canadian neighbours.”

The Nov. 8 start date comes a full three months after Canada initially began allowing fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents back across the border in August.  

“It will be what we make of it, and I’m happy that people can now be reunited with loved ones and all those other issues,” Higgins said. 

“But the fact of the matter is, the U.S. border to our Canadian neighbours should have been opened months ago.”  

The U.S. Travel Association has estimated the Mexican and Canadian border closures have been costing American businesses $1.5 billion in travel exports — domestic spending by foreign visitors — every month.

As for the test requirement, public health officials in Canada made it clear Friday it’s not going away any time soon. 

“We’re in a situation in Canada where our health systems are still very fragile,” said Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s chief public health officer. 

“We need to still be very vigilant and careful at this point, but we will have ongoing discussions with the CDC and the United States to see what is reasonable in the trajectory going forward.”

The White House has never explained publicly why it waited three months after Canada began relaxing its restrictions. Speculation focused on a desire to open both land borders at the same time, something a burgeoning immigration crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border made politically difficult. 

“Canada shouldn’t have had to wait for Mexico,” said Maryscott Greenwood, CEO of the D.C.-based Canadian American Business Council. 

“The science, the politics, the policy, the reality — none of that would lead you to say, ‘Let’s do these things in tandem.’ What would be better to do in tandem is Canada and the U.S. work in tandem across our common border, and Mexico and the U.S. work in tandem across that border. That makes some sense.”

Higgins agreed, noting that the U.S. is letting vaccinated travellers in Mexico enter the country even though only 38.5 per cent of that country’s population is fully vaccinated.

“This whole argument that, ‘We have to wait until we achieve a higher rate of vaccination,’ is thrown out the window,” he said. 

“The U.S. federal government proved my point on that — they’re saying, ‘Hey, look, we’d like to have more Mexicans as a percentage of the adult population vaccinated, but if they’re vaccinated, they’re safe.”

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland demurred Thursday when asked whether, in the future, Canada would press its case for the U.S. to use separate and distinct policy approaches to its northern and southern borders. 

“I think that we need to be respectful of every other country’s sovereign decisions around its borders, and of every other country’s sovereign right to manage its borders as it sees fit,” Freeland said. 

“Having said that, I think it’s also worth pointing out that Canada has a very effective, very close partnership with the United States, as we should.” 

Since the dawn of the NAFTA age 25 years ago, the U.S. has tended to see its two frontiers through an economic lens — and in that context, they are more similar than most Canadians realize, said Bill Anderson, director of the Cross-Border Institute at the University of Windsor. 

“People have the idea that in Mexico, what you’ve got is a whole bunch of people trying to get across the border illegally, and maybe you have some imports and exports of tomatoes and tequila. That’s not it,” Anderson said.

“It’s very similar (to Canada) in terms of the ports of entry. A lot of business people are crossing on a regular basis too, and of course, there’s a lot of crossing for tourism, there’s a lot of family crossings — the volume of people crossing legally is huge there as well.” 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 15, 2021.

James McCarten, The Canadian Press

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Testing shows high concentrations of fuel in tank at Iqaluit's water treatment plant

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IQALUIT — The City of Iqaluit says testing shows a high concentration of fuel in a tank that supplies water to the Nunavut capital.

It says the fuel could be diesel or kerosene, but that long-term health effects are not a concern.

Residents of the community of 8,000 people were told on Tuesday not to drink tap water after it was discovered it may be contaminated by fuel. 

The Nunavut government has been flying in shipments of potable water, while many residents have collected freshwater from a nearby river.

Some residents reported smelling fuel in their water last week, but city officials said regular testing came back clear.

Staff then discovered a holding tank at its water treatment plant that had a strong fuel smell, and the city put out a notice to not drink the water.

Amy Elgersma, chief administrative officer for the city, told a news conference Friday that it’s believed fuel from outside the water treatment plant somehow entered the tank.

“It’s important to note that the water quality testing of the treated reservoir located downstream from the water treatment plant showed (fuel) levels well within health limits. So this part is very good news,” she said.

The city has isolated and bypassed the tank, she added, and it will be examined when it is empty to try and determine how it was contaminated.

She said the city started flushing its water system Thursday and will continue to do so for 48 more hours. Residents will then be asked to flush the pipes in their homes by running their taps for 20 minutes.

Testing and monitoring is to continue over the next several months, Elgersma said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 15, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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