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Alberta

City of Edmonton shuts down eighth homeless encampment after insuring space for occupants in warm shelters

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New release from the City of Edmonton

Closure of eighth high-risk encampment proceeds; court deliberations about future response activity continue
Additional requirements will continue to apply to the City’s response to eight high-risk homeless encampments while the Court considers questions of rights and public safety.
Court Hearing
Today, Justice Martin extended the conditions of the interim interim injunction to Tuesday, January 16. In addition to the City’s existing protocols, the Order requires the City to include the following considerations as part of its assessment and decision making process for eight high-risk encampment closures:
  • Before clearing the encampments, City and/or the Edmonton Police Service will make sure there is sufficient shelter space or other indoor space;
  • If there is not enough space, officers will close only if a danger to public health and safety;
  • City will consider the cold weather in decision making;
  • City will advise agencies at earliest convenience about closure;
  • Order does not impact ongoing wellness checks by City staff or fire services;
  • 48 hour notice will be given again to residents; and
  • Notice to include reason, date
Deliberations at today’s court hearing involved reviewing legal matters about representation and standing in the courts and whether particular evidence should be allowed.
Court deliberations continue on January 11 and January 16.
High-risk encampment closure at 95th Street and 101A Avenue
The scheduled closure and cleaning of a high-risk encampment in the vicinity of 95th Street and 101A Avenue resumed today. This is the last of eight sites subject to the conditions of the interim Order and the closure was in full compliance with the City’s obligations, including providing advance notice to social agencies.
An encampment may be assessed as high risk where there is a serious risk of injury or death due to fire, carbon monoxide poisoning, drug use, gang violence, physical violence including weapons, public health and/or sanitation risks, environmental degradation and/or criminal activity. It is also assessed based on its proximity to local amenities including schools and playgrounds, the number of people and structures in the encampment, if the location has previously been an encampment site and how long it has been in place.
This encampment meets several of these criteria and was the site of a serious sexual assault on December 16, 2023.
The extremely cold weather increases the already high risk of injury and death due to fire. In 2023, Edmonton Fire Rescue Services responded to 135 fires in encampments resulting in 22 injuries and three fatalities. In the last week two fires have led to injuries and one propane tank has exploded at encampment sites.
Edmonton Fire Rescue Services reminds Edmontonians that open flames or heating elements situated too close to combustibles can start fires. With regard to propane tanks:
  • Propane cylinders should not be exposed to open flames.
  • Leaking cylinders can easily ignite and heated cylinders can explode.
Encampment Closure Facts – as of  4:00 p.m. Wednesday
Prior to today’s closure and cleanup, the City received confirmation from the Government of Alberta that there is sufficient shelter capacity for any individuals leaving the site who wish to access shelters. With the activation of the City’s extreme weather response this week, 50 shelter spaces at the Al Rashid Mosque were added. Additionally, 49 spaces opened at NiGiNan’s Pimatisiwin site (former Sands Hotel) and Enoch opened 10 additional spaces at the former Coliseum Inn site.
City crews will continue to clean the site as the day progresses. As a result, some of the information provided below is subject to change:
  • Encampment location – in the vicinity of 95th Street and 101A Avenue
  • Number of structures – 7
  • Number of occupants -5
  • Instances of medical aid provided -0
  • Arrests – 3 people were arrested and charges are pending by EPS
  • Tickets Issued – 0
  • Warrants executed – 0
  • Cleaning data
  • Truckloads/ kg waste removed – 21 truckloads (roughly 2,000 kg)
  • Needles – tbd
  • Shopping Carts – 7
  • Propane tanks – 31
  • The REACH 24/7 Crisis Diversion Teams were on site to provide transport and support as needed.
  • Today, as with other days, we considered the weather conditions in our decision. The increased risk of frostbite, hypothermia and injury from fire were important factors in the decision to proceed with action.
  • The extreme weather protocol activates enhanced supports for vulnerable Edmontonians including additional 50 shelter spaces at the Al Rashid Mosque.
  • Even with available shelter space, some Edmontonians experiencing homelessness may sometimes choose not to go to shelters.
Future Closures
Today’s closure is the last of the eight high-risk sites subject to the Order. The City continues to receive encampment complaints, and will continue to assess the risk of encampment sites as they are identified.
This is all the information the City is able to provide at this time.

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Alberta moves to protect Edmonton park from Trudeau government’s ‘diversity’ plan

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From LifeSiteNews

By Clare Marie Merkowsky

If Trudeau’s National Urban Park Initiative is implemented, Alberta could see its parks, including Edmonton’s River Valley, hijacked by the federal government in the name of ‘sustainability, conservation, equity, diversity, inclusion, and reconciliation.’

Edmonton is working to protect its River Valley from the Trudeau government’s “diversity” park plan. 

On April 15, Alberta Legislature passed MLA Brandon Lunty’s private members’ Bill 204 to protect the Edmonton River Valley from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s National Urban Park Initiative which would give the federal government power over provincial parks to enforce a variety of quotas related to the “climate” and “diversity.”  

“Albertans elected our United Conservative government with a majority mandate to, among other things, protect families and communities from federal overreach and intrusion. That’s exactly what this bill accomplishes,” Lunty said in a press release  

Bill 204, titled the Municipal Government (National Urban Parks) Amendment Act, is a response to the National Urban Park Initiative which would give the Trudeau government jurisdiction over Alberta’s provincial parks.  

The Trudeau government’s plan promises to “provide long-lasting benefits to the urban area” by using “sustainability, conservation, equity, diversity, inclusion, and reconciliation.” 

If the program is approved, the Edmonton River Valley could be “fully owned by the Federal Government,” which will use the space to advance their values, including addressing the impacts of “climate change” and creating spaces where “diversity is welcomed.”  

The plan also promises that equity will be “intentionally advanced” while “respecting indigenous rights” through “reconciliation.”   

However, many Edmonton citizens were concerned with the Urban Park Initiative and met with their MLAs to discuss the issue.  

Edmonton citizen Sheila Phimester worked with MLA Jackie Lovely to create a petition to prevent the River Valley from becoming federally owned. The petition has received over 5,000 signatures.  

“Oh, and because it’s the federal government, their ‘priorities’ for these parks are ‘healthier communities’, ‘climate resilience’, ‘reconciliation’, ‘equity’, ‘diversity’, and ‘inclusion,’” it continued.   

Already, Trudeau has attempted to assert power over Alberta’s industry by placing “climate” restrictions on their oil and gas production in an attempt to force net-zero regulations on all Canadian provinces, including on electricity generation, by as early as 2035.   

However, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith has repeatedly vowed to protect the province from Trudeau’s radical “net zero” push. 

In December, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith blasted Trudeau’s Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault’s plan to slash oil and gas emissions by 35 percent to 38 percent below 2019 levels as “unrealistic” and “unconstitutional.”  

Trudeau’s current environmental goals are in lockstep with the United Nations’ “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” and include phasing out coal-fired power plants, reducing fertilizer usage, and curbing natural gas use over the coming decades.  

The reduction and eventual elimination of the use of so-called “fossil fuels” and a transition to unreliable “green” energy has also been pushed by the World Economic Forum (WEF) – the globalist group behind the socialist “Great Reset” agenda – an organization in which Trudeau and some of his cabinet are involved. 

In November, after announcing she had “enough” of Trudeau’s extreme environmental rules, Smith said her province had no choice but to assert control over its electricity grid to combat federal overreach by enacting its Sovereignty Act. The Sovereignty Act serves to shield Albertans from future power blackouts due to federal government overreach.  

Unlike most provinces in Canada, Alberta’s electricity industry is nearly fully deregulated. However, the government still has the ability to take control of it at a moment’s notice. 

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Coutts Three verdict: A warning to protestors who act as liaison with police

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From the Frontier Centre for Public Policy

By Ray McGinnis

During the trial numbers of RCMP officers conceded that the Coutts Three were helpful in their interactions with the law. As well, there didn’t seem to be any truth to the suggestion that Van Huigenbos, Van Herk and Janzen were leaders of the protest.

Twelve jurors have found the Coutts Three guilty of mischief over $5,000 at a courthouse in Lethbridge, Alberta. Marco Van Huigenbois, Alex Van Herk and George Janzen will appear again in court on July 22 for sentencing.

Van Huigenbois, Van Herk and Janzen were each protesting at the Coutts Blockade in 2022. A blockade of Alberta Highway 4 began on January 29, 2022, blocking traffic, on and off, on Alberta Highway 4 near the Coutts-Sweetgrass Canada-USA border crossing. The protests were in support of the Freedom Convoy protests in Ottawa.

Protests began due to the vaccine mandates for truckers entering Canada, and lockdowns that bankrupted 120,000 small businesses. Government edicts were purportedly for “public health” to stop the spread of the C-19 virus. Yet the CDC’s Dr. Rachel Wallensky admitted on CNN in August 2021 the vaccine did not prevent infection or stop transmission.

By February 2022, a US court forced Pfizer to release its “Cumulative Analysis of Post-Authorization Adverse Event Reports” revealing the company knew by the end of February, 2021, that 1,223 people  had a “case outcome” of “fatal” as a result of taking the companies’ vaccine.

On the day of February 14, 2022, the three men spoke to Coutts protesters after a cache of weapons had been displayed by the RCMP. These were in connection with the arrest of the Coutts Four. Van Huigenbos and others persuaded the protesters to leave Coutts, which they did by February 15, 2022.

During the trial numbers of RCMP officers conceded that the Coutts Three were helpful in their interactions with the law. As well, there didn’t seem to be any truth to the suggestion that Van Huigenbos, Van Herk and Janzen were leaders of the protest.

RCMP officer Greg Tulloch testified that there were a number of “factions” within the larger protest group. These factions had strong disagreements about how to proceed with the protest. The Crown contended the Coutts Three were the leaders of the protest.

During his testimony, Tulloch recalled how Van Huigenbos and Janzen assisted him in getting past the “vehicle blockade to enter Coutts at a time during the protest when access to Coutts from the north via the AB-4 highway was blocked.” Tulloch also testified that Janzen and Van Huigenbos helped with handling RCMP negotiations with the protesters. Tulloch gave credit to these two “being able to help move vehicles at times to open lanes on the AB-4 highway to facilitate the flow of traffic in both directions.”

During cross examination by George Janzen’s lawyer, Alan Honner, Tulloch stated that he noticed two of the defendants assisting RCMP with reopening the highway in both directions. Honner said in summary, “[Marco Van Huigenbos and George Janzen] didn’t close the road, they opened it.”

Mark Wielgosz, an RCMP officer for over twenty years, worked as a liaison between law enforcement and protesters at the Coutts blockade. Taking the stand, he concurred that there was sharp disagreement among the Coutts protesters and the path forward with their demonstration. Rebel News video clips “submitted by both the Crown and defence teams captured these disagreements as demonstrators congregated in the Smuggler’s Saloon, a location where many of the protesters met to discuss and debate their demonstration.” Wielgosz made several attempts to name the leaders of the protest in his role as a RCMP liaison with the protesters, but was unsuccessful.”

However, the Crown maintained that the protest unlawfully obstructed people’s access to property on Highway 4.

Canada’s Criminal Code defines mischief as follows in Section 430:

Every one commits mischief who willfully

(a)  destroys or damages property;

(b)  renders property dangerous, useless, inoperative or ineffective;

(c)   obstructs, interrupts or interferes with the lawful use, enjoyment or operation of property; or

(d)  obstructs, interrupts or interferes with any person in the lawful use, enjoyment or operation of property.

Robert Kraychik reported that “RCMP Superintendent Gordon Corbett…cried (no comment on the sincerity of this emoting) while testifying about a female RCMP officer that was startled by the movement of a tractor with a large blade during the Coutts blockade/protest.” This was the climax of the trial. A tractor moving some distance away from an officer in rural Alberta, with blades. The shock of it all.

No evidence was presented in the trial that Van Huigenbos, Van Herk and Janzen destroyed or damaged property. Officers testified they couldn’t identify who the protest leaders were. They testified the defendants assisted with opening traffic lanes, and winding down the protest.

By volunteering to liaise with the RCMP, the Crown depicted the Coutts Three as the protest leaders. Who will choose to volunteer at any future peaceful, non-violent, protest to act as a liaison with the policing authorities? Knowing of the verdict handed down on April 16, 2024, in Lethbridge?

Ray McGinnis is a Senior Fellow with the Frontier Centre for Public Policy. His forthcoming book is Unjustified: The Emergencies Act and the Inquiry that Got It Wrong.

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