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Alberta

Alberta bans fires in provincial parks, protected areas, hiring 200 new firefighters, increasing fines & more

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The Albert government is taking a number of steps to reduce the risk of spring wildfires while protecting municipalities.

Alberta Wildfire is hiring 200 additional firefighters, invoking a fire ban, implementing off-highway vehicle (OHV) restrictions, increasing fine violations and funding $20 million more in community FireSmart initiatives, all to prepare for the upcoming wildfire season during COVID-19.

Alberta Parks is also instituting a fire ban in all provincial parks and protected areas.

These early preparedness measures will ensure the province can effectively focus resources where they are needed most in the event of multiple emergencies happening at the same time.

Typically, the wildfire hazard is highest in Alberta in late April through May, when fuel like trees and grasses have extremely low moisture content after the snow has melted.

A massive wildfire swept through parts of Fort McMurray in May 2016, leading to the evacuation of the population and billions in damages. Photo Courtesy/Government of Alberta

More than a million acres burned last year and 71 per cent of wildfires were human-caused and entirely preventable. With provincial resources currently stretched due to COVID-19, these preventative measures will better equip Alberta’s response to spring wildfires this year.

“Albertans are tough and we’re all doing what we can to keep each other safe during COVID-19. With Alberta’s wildfire season matching with the expected peak of COVID-19, we have to take extra precautions to ensure our response efforts are well-funded and planned out. This spring, we may find ourselves facing multiple disasters at once. With all these measures, we will be prepared.” Devin Dreeshen, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry

Increased firefighting resources

An additional $5 million investment is being made to hire and train 200 high-quality firefighters to assist with the provincial wildfire suppression this season.

The fire ban and OHV restriction are temporary measures, which will remain in place only as long as required to combat the wildfire risk.

More than 800 seasonal firefighters will join 370 year-round staff at Alberta Wildfire. These resources are hired at one of the 10 Forest Areas, and are moved throughout the Forest Protection Area as required.

Fire ban and OHV restriction

A fire ban in the Forest Protection Area, provincial parks and protected areas, as well as a recreational OHV ban on Crown land in the Forest Protection Area, will come into effect April 15.

Alberta’s Forest Protection Area covers almost 60 per cent of Alberta, most of the northern half of the province and the western border, excluding federal parks.

The government recognizes that many Albertans use OHVs and respects this valid activity. At the same time, the government must take into account limitations and manage risk due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hot mufflers can potentially start wildfires.

The fire ban and OHV restriction are temporary measures, which will remain in place only as long as required to combat the wildfire risk. Measures may later be adjusted to take into account the needs of specific regions.

All fire permits will be suspended in this area, and landowners are responsible for ensuring any holdover fires are extinguished by this time.

Indigenous people may use OHVs on public land for traditional purposes. Use of OHVs on private lands, for industrial use (for example forestry, agriculture and energy) and by emergency responders is also permitted.

A recreational off-highway vehicle (OHV) ban on Crown land in the Forest Protection These OHV restrictions are only temporary measures.

Higher fines

Fines are being doubled from $300 to $600 for non-compliance with a fire ban and from $600 to $1,200 for non-compliance with an OHV restriction. With 71 per cent of last year’s wildfires started by people, these fine increases reflect the seriousness of the preventative measure Albertans must take to prevent wildfires.

Individuals found contravening a fire ban or OHV restriction will be subject to increased fines, starting April 15, and could be held liable for all costs associated with fighting a wildfire. Last year, more than $600 million was spent fighting wildfires in Alberta.

These fines are in addition to the existing penalties for arson under the Criminal Code.

“Our province is taking steps to prepare for wildfires and other hazards this spring and summer by increasing our emergency response capacity. This means that while we continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, we will also be ready to respond to other emergencies as they may arise.” Kaycee Madu, Minister of Municipal Affairs

Increased FireSmart funding

FireSmart will receive a funding boost of up to $20 million to support vegetation management in the province. The department will work with municipalities to ensure these funds are used this fiscal year.

FireSmart helps to reduce the wildfire risk to Albertans, their homes and communities. The FireSmart program includes grants to support the most at-risk communities in Alberta, including Indigenous communities.

This additional funding will help mitigate wildfire damages and losses in more Alberta communities by creating FireSmart zones around at-risk communities to reduce wildfire hazards.

Government emergency response

To increase response capacity and prepare for multiple and concurrent disasters, such as wildfires and floods, the Provincial Operations Centre has been reinforced by the creation of a Pandemic Response Planning Team. This team will help coordinate government’s medium and long-term response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Quick facts

  • For more information on wildfires, download the Alberta Wildfire app.
  • Up-to-date information on fire restrictions, fire bans, OHV restrictions and general wildfire information is available at albertafirebans.ca or by calling 1-866-FYI-FIRE (1-866-394-3473).
  • To report a wildfire, call 310-FIRE (310-3473) toll-free, from anywhere in Alberta.
  • Most new seasonal staff will be on-the-ground firefighters, with wages between $22 and $28 per hour.
  • Fire bans and OHV restrictions have proven to be effective prevention tools in reducing the number of human-caused wildfires.
  • Anyone found to be non-compliant with a fire ban or OHV restriction may also have to go to court and may receive a fine up to $100,000. Anyone found to be the cause of a wildfire may be liable for the costs associated with extinguishing the fire.
  • FireSmart is a program that requires cooperation of all people living, working and playing in the forest.

Related information and Links

Alberta

Family of Alberta woman believed dead pleads for public information

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CALGARY — The family of a woman who Calgary police believe was killed by a friend is pleading for the public’s help in finding her remains.

Police have said Vida Smith travelled to Calgary from Chestermere, a bedroom community east of the city, to meet the friend at a coffee shop on July 21.

Family reported the 69-year-old missing to the RCMP after she failed to return home and missed a medical appointment two days later.

Calgary police charged 60-year-old Kevin Barton with manslaughter on July 31, but Smith’s body has yet to be recovered.

Smith’s family said in a statement distributed by the Calgary Police Service that they are beyond devastated.

They are asking members of the public to come forward if they saw something or know something.

“Our mom deserves dignity and respect. We just want to find her and bring her home so she can rest in peace.”

Smith’s family said she’s more than just a missing person or victim.

“She’s a beautiful human being, she’s a friend, a mother and a grandmother,” the statement said.

“She loved her grandchildren more than anything in this world. Vida is so missed and forever loved by her friends and family.”

Police are asking anyone who may have seen the accused or his beige Cadillac Escalade in Calgary or Edmonton to contact them. It’s believed Barton travelled to Edmonton on July 22.

They are also seeking witnesses to “suspicious activity” in a parking lot on the west side of the Sunridge ATB in northeast Calgary on the day Smith vanished.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on August 12, 2020

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Bonavista to be delisted from exchange after completing shares-for-debt deal

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CALGARY — Bonavista Energy Corp. says it has completed a recapitalization plan that will result in a nickel-per-share payout for its shareholders and its delisting from the Toronto Stock Exchange.

CEO Jason Skehar says the transaction removes crippling debt and means the oil and gas producer will be able to “pledge sustainability” in almost any commodity price environment.

Bonavista announced in June an agreement with lenders that would eliminate about half of its outstanding debt but leave existing shareholders with only seven per cent of the company.

The proposal, since approved by shareholders, debtholders and the courts, is designed to reduce total debt by about $483 million or 56 per cent and lower annual cash interest payments by $16 million or 43 per cent.

Under the deal, existing shareholders were given the option to sell their shares to G2S2 Capital, a company controlled by director and 16 per cent shareholder George Armoyan, for five cents each.

Bonavista recently reported second-quarter production of 65,300 barrels of oil per day, down two per cent from the first quarter mainly due to the voluntary curtailment of 1,150 boe/d due to volatile pricing.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 12, 2020.

Companies in this story: (TSX:BNP)

The Canadian Press

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august, 2020

fri07augAll Daymon17WALK TO BREATHE from Calgary to Edmonton(All Day)

thu27aug(aug 27)12:00 amsun30(aug 30)11:59 pmHUGE Garage Sale for Crime Prevention12:00 am - 11:59 pm (30) PIDHERNEY CURLING CENTRE, RED DEER, AB, 4725 43 St, Red Deer, AB T4N 6Z3 Event Organized By: The Central Alberta Crime Prevention Centre

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