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Alberta

Could our sports history be … history?

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Could our sports history be … history?

What began as a simple question was turned suddenly into a discouraging truth. The Alberta Sports Hall of Fame has not received any support from the provincial government this year and no discussions have been held about when – or if – the money might arrive.

The question was: “What chance is there that the annual banquet (postponed because of COVID-19) will be staged before the end of 2020?” Tracey Kinsella, who became executive director of the Hall last summer, responded that many existing lockdown issues would have to be cleared up, and some funding would be required. Then she pointed out that the Hall of Fame, which sits on the edge of Red Deer and has honoured athletes and sportsmen for decades, has been operating without funds. And she also pointed out that she has had little communication to date with any government representative about the cost of staying in business.

Given those simple facts, it takes no large dose of imagination to see the possibility that the Hall of Fame, which sits on the edge of Red Deer and has honoured athletes and sportsmen for decades, will not exist much longer. Alberta’s annual contribution is a mere $302,000,  peanuts in the budget of any provincial government.

Of course, this is not just ANY government. It has bigger problems than most. The United Progressive Conservative government is locked in vital struggles over billions of resource revenue and thousands of jobs. Before the coronavirus interfered, facing a debt level already out of control, the UPC dismantled the Alberta Sports Connection board of governors, which provided years of experience in administration, public service and fund-raising, then oversaw the dismissal of at least one high-ranked staff member who served ASC with integrity for more than 25 years.

Moves to fill those gaps, if any, have been made in silence.

To put the record straight, this reporter spent five years as chair of ASC, the last two under control of an NDP  minister so disinterested he once told hundreds of Leduc residents, “you know, of course, that I’m not in politics because I care about sports.” My term ended on schedule, before the UPC was elected.

In times like these, where major issues such as COVID-19 collect almost every available ounce of governmental focus, it is easy to look beyond issues that supposedly don’t matter. But, if provincial history and recognition of many who have contributed is important, some attention must be paid soon.

Kinsella, who has been involved in sport as an administrator and unpaid supporter for years, replaced veteran Donna Hately. She entered with enthusiastic ideas about “investments in the Hall.” Her concept would provide entertainment and education for youngsters while also upgrading the building, completed in 1997.

In recent years, she said, attendance at the annual induction banquet had not been “any kind of money-maker.” Other funds were raised in the annual Hall of Fame golf tournament. “Now, we’re doing whatever is necessary” as she looks toward the future. “I think we can get by at this level for about a year and a half, but it won’t be easy.”

Initially, the Hall of Fame induction banquet was scheduled for May 29. To be recognized whenever a date can be set are four athletes, three builders and two to share the Bell Memorial Award for media excellence, as well as individual Achievement, Pioneer and Legacy Award winners. Click for this year’s inductee’s. 

Click here to make a donation to the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame.

Editor’s note:  John is an Alberta Hall of Fame member, inducted in 1988 with the Bell Memorial Award for media excellence. 

Click to read more of John’s stories.

Todayville has a many stories about the inductees over the past few years.  Since 2017, we have produced a video of each inductee.  Click here to find some amazing stories. 

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Alberta

Loss of Keystone XL pipeline expected to hurt future oilpatch growth: experts

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CALGARY — Western Canada’s oil producers will likely cope better with Joe Biden’s cancelling of the Keystone XL presidential permit than they did with the same move by ex-president Barack Obama in 2015, an industry analyst says.

But Phil Skolnick, a New York-based analyst for Eight Capital, agreed with other observers that the end of the pipeline will stifle investment and production growth for years in the Canadian oilpatch.

Shortly after being inaugurated on Wednesday, President Biden, who was Obama’s vice-president, fulfilled a campaign promise and again took away the pipeline permit that former president Donald Trump gave back to builder TC Energy Corp. in 2019.

The difference between now and five years ago is that producers have two promising alternative pipelines — the Line 3 replacement and the Trans Mountain expansion, together providing nearly one million barrels a day of export capacity — to pin their hopes on, said Skolnick.

And, he added, after more than five years of poor oil prices and a lack of access to capital markets to raise money, their expectations for growing their oil production have been greatly diminished.

“It was worse when it happened in 2015 .. that was bad back then because we didn’t have the big rail buildout and we really didn’t have Line 3, no one really knew about that,” said Skolnick.

“This is bad because (the government of) Alberta spent the money on it but, looking through the lens of the producers, not as big of a deal as some people might think.”

Incremental capacity additions to pipelines, technology that makes oil transport more efficient and crude-by-rail capacity that hit a record of 412,000 bpd last February mean the system will be “pipe neutral”  — with capacity matching demand — in the first half of this year, he said.

TC Energy approved spending US$8 billion in the spring of 2020 to complete Keystone XL after the Alberta government agreed to invest about US$1.1 billion (C$1.5 billion) as equity and guaranteed a US$4.2-billion project loan.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has said the province has about $1 billion at risk if the project is killed.

The 1,947-kilometre pipeline is designed to carry 830,000 barrels a day of crude oil from Hardisty, Alta., to Steele City, Neb., where it connects with the company’s existing facilities to reach the U.S. Gulf Coast refining centre.

The two other export pipelines will provide enough capacity to allow oil production to grow into the second half of this decade, said Richard Masson, an executive fellow and energy expert at the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy.

But uncertainty about future capacity make it impossible for producers to make decisions about new multibillion-dollar oilsands projects, which could take five years or more to plan and build, despite growing demand for heavy oil from U.S. refiners seeing dwindling imports from Venezuela and Mexico.

“It puts a damper on investment expectations,” Masson said, noting that Canadian oil and gas capital spending fell from more than $80 billion in 2014 to about $24 billion last year, a factor in the economic slump gripping the Calgary and Alberta economies.

“For something to be started up after 2025, you really have to start working on it today.”

Excess space in the oil transport system is vital to provide optionality, energy security and stable pricing, said Canadian Energy Pipeline Association CEO Chris Bloomer, who agreed Keystone XL is needed to ensure future growth rather than short-term demand.

“We want to be somewhat long in takeaway capacity and access to markets rather than short, which creates (price) discounting,” he said.

On Wednesday, Kenney warned that Biden’s decision to cancel Keystone XL after construction had already started sets a “precedent” that could put existing pipelines at risk of “retroactive” shutdowns.

But neither Skolnick nor Masson agreed shutting operating pipelines is a likely scenario given the potential damage that could result for oil consumers in the U.S.

Bloomer said that’s not something his members are worried about.

“Existing operating pipelines? The economy would come to a grinding halt and there would be massive devastating economic impacts if that were to happen,” he said.

In early 2016, TC Energy (then called TransCanada) launched legal action against the U.S. seeking US$15 billion in damages under the North American Free Trade Agreement. The claim was withdrawn after Trump was elected.

In a report on Thursday, analysts with Tudor Pickering Holt and Co. said they expect the company to make a similar trade appeal this time, but with damages of US$17 billion to account for spending on the project since then.

The report also suggests TC Energy will likely look to recover some of its losses on the pipeline from the shippers who signed agreements to guarantee space on the line.

The company warned Wednesday it will likely post “substantive” mostly non-cash writedowns in its first-quarter financial results.

Earlier Thursday, TC Energy said it planned to eliminate more than 1,000 construction jobs related to its decision to halt work on Keystone XL. 

The company had previously warned that blocking the project would lead to thousands of job losses.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021.

Companies in this story: (TSX:TRP)

Dan Healing, The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Calgary man appeals conviction for drunk-driving crash that killed his daughter

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CALGARY — A Calgary man who killed his daughter and seriously injured her best friend in a drunk-driving crash is appealing his conviction and sentence.

Michael Shaun Bomford was found guilty last January of dangerous driving causing death and bodily harm, as well as causing the 2016 crash while impaired.

He was sentenced to 5 1/2 years in prison.

Bomford has filed an appeal that claims the sentence was excessive and unreasonable in the circumstances.

He also suggests the trial judge erred by ruling hearsay text messages admissible at trial.

Bomford is serving his sentence at the Drumheller Institution in Alberta.

Court heard Bomford had three times the legal limit of alcohol in his system when he took his 17-year-old daughter, Meghan, and her friend, Kelsey Nelson, to get police checks so that they could become junior ringette coaches. 

His daughter did not survive the crash, while Nelson suffered a severe brain injury and has no recollection of it.

Bomford’s trial heard that he lost control of his Jeep while driving 112 km/h in an 80 km/h zone. The Jeep rolled into the median and all three occupants were thrown out of the vehicle. (CTV Calgary)

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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