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Around Red Deer June 9th – 11th…..

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3:06 pm – Officials with Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools are celebrating the honour bestowed upon Allan Mahoney, a teacher at École Secondaire Notre Dame High School who received the Mayor’s Recognition Award on Thursday night for Distinguished Voluntary Service! Mahoney began his volleyball coaching career in 2011. He has coached the Notre Dame Senior Boys Varsity Volleyball Team for the past six years and has dedicated more than 15 hours per week working with students during the volleyball season. He coordinates and runs week-long volleyball camps during the summer for students in Grades 6-12. For the past seven years, Mahoney has coached the Central Alberta Kings Volleyball Club U18 team.

2:36 pm – A big Thank You going out to the Moovers and Groovers adult walking club in Innisfail. Find out why.

2:31 pm – The Town of Innisfail would like to thank everyone who gave their time at the 2017 Mayor and Seniors Garden Party for their contributions in making the event a great success. Read More.

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2:20 pm – The Town of Sylvan Lake is set to party with 1913 Days starting today! Details Here.

1:52 pm – Check out the progress being made on the Laura Avenue extension project underway in Gasoline Alley.

1:25 pm –  It’s Child Safety Week and Alberta Health Services (AHS) is reminding all Albertans to make all-terrain vehicle (ATV) safety a priority this week and every week. Read More.

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1:17 pm – The Ross Street Patio Party, Kick it to the Curb and JDRF Telus Walk to Cure Diabetes are all happening in Red Deer this weekend. Find out what else is going on throughout the City.

1:08 pm – The Reining Alberta Spring Classic is underway at Red Deer’s Westerner Park until Sunday (June 11). Read More.

12:15 pm – A Boil Water Advisory has been issued for parts of Red Deer’s Bower neighbourhood. Read More.

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12:08 pm – Residential building picked up in Red Deer last month, as residential permits were valued at $5.8 million in May, surpassing permit values of $3 million in May 2016. Read More.

11:59 am – A Red Deer Mother and Daughter are celebrating a Set For Life Lottery Win! Read More.

11:49 am – Penhold Fire Crews were called to power lines down on Lucina St. and Emma St. in Pnehold early Friday morning (June 9). There is no estimate of when the roads will re-open or when power will be restored. Fortis AB is on scene and working hard to restore service. As of 8:20 am, all Penhold units have been cleared of both scenes by Fortis who have set up road closures in the same locations and are hard at work trying to restore power in all areas of Penhold that are still without power. There are also lines down in the back alley of Fleming Ave. between Emma St. and  Lucina St. Residents have been warned not to go into their back yards or the alley until Fortis can make the situation safe. One resident has also suffered from medical distress due to the power outage affecting their medication equipment.

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11:35 am – The City of Red Deer has provided an update on the 67th Street Roundabout construction project. Read More.

11:28 am – Fire crews were called to a small kitchen fire on Hayter Street in Penhold Thursday June 8th. Officials say the source was determined to be a hard plastic container left on the stove top. The cause was the occupant placed the container on the stove inadvertently turning a burner on. There were no injuries and crews cleared from the scene within 40 minutes. Penhold Fire Chief Jim Pendergast  would like to remind everyone not to leave combustible materials on a stove or other potentially hot surface. Damage is estimated at less than $1000.00. 1 unit and 5 firefighters responded.

11:18 am – Innisfail RCMP were on patrol on highway 2 on June 7th and observed a vehicle failing to maintain the centre lane. A traffic stop was initiated with the vehicle, upon approach to the passenger’s side of the vehicle Police observed a zip-lock bag of marihuana in a bag on the passenger seat. Read More.

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11:11 am – Motorists can expect delays as construction on 32 Street starts on Monday, June 12. Details Here.

11:04 am – Red Deer RCMP arrested a number of people this week who were found to be breaching various court-imposed conditions or who had failed to appear in court on earlier charges. Read More.

10:52 am – Red Deer RCMP are looking for public assistance to identify the man who robbed a north end gas station at knifepoint at approximately 12:30 am on June 8. Read More.

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10:43 am – Rainfall Warnings have been issued for the Rocky Mountain House – Caroline and Nordegg Regions today. Details Here.

10:35 am – Good news to pass along regarding a missing Red Deer woman. Mounties say 26 year old Christina Linthorne has been located and RCMP thank the public for their assistance.

10:28 am – The Recreation Centre in Red Deer will close to the public this weekend, as the Catalina Swim Club hosts their annual “Freeze or Fry” swim meet. Read More.

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10:22 am – The City of Red Deer held it’s annual Mayor’s Recognition Awards at the Sheraton Hotel Thursday night. The award recipients joined the ranks of the nearly one thousand outstanding citizens who have crossed the stage between 1990 and today. Read More.

10:16 am – Your chance to part with your no longer needed but still useful items happens this weekend. Kick it to the Curb in Red Deer runs Saturday, June 10th and Sunday, June 11th. Read More.

10:10 am – Ross Street Patio Parties are back today and Red Deerians are invited to celebrate at the official kick-off event at 5 p.m. Friday, June 9, featuring St. James Gate. Read More.

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10:05 am – Some road closures from Red Deer motorists to make note of over the next few days. Find out where.

9:54 am – The Town of Sylvan Lake has partnered with the Sylvan Lake Chamber of Commerce, and Days Inn – Sylvan Lake to host approximately 25 travel agents from Alberta, for a weekend of enjoying all that Sylvan Lake has to offer. The Familiarization Tour runs Saturday, June 10th and Sunday, June 11th.

9:47 am – It’s Aboriginal Day at Ecole Mother Teresa School in Sylvan Lake. The event will kick-off with an Aboriginal dance performance by a family from the school, and will honour First Nations, Inuit, and Métis cultures by participating in Aboriginal games, learning about Aboriginal art, making bannock and participating in a variety of hands-on activities related to our Aboriginal peoples.

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9:41 am – They’re striking up the band at St. Elizabeth Seton School in Red Deer today. The Grade 5 students will present what they’ve learned in band class in a performance to the school community today (June 9).

9:35 am – It’s track and Fun Day at St. Teresa of Avila School in Red Deer today (June 9). Students and staff will gather as a community and take part in this fun-filled day. It includes outdoor activities and a hot dog BBQ provided by the parent council. In case of inclement weather, Tuesday, June 13 will be the alternate day.

9:10 am – Ecole Secondaire Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School in Red Deer is hosting a Spring Handball Tournament tomorrow on Saturday, June 10th. The event runs from 9:00 am – 6:30 pm.

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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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