Community & Sustainability with Alberta Original Alley Kat Brewing
Alberta is home to more than 100 unique craft breweries, the majority of which are located in the city of Calgary and the provincial capital, Edmonton. The number of breweries has grown exponentially since 2013, when Alberta experienced a craft beer boom following legislative changes by Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) that made owning and operating a microbrewery far more accessible.
Founded in 1995, well before the boom, Alley Kat Brewing is an Alberta original. Having celebrated its 25th birthday in 2020, Alley Kat is the oldest microbrewery in Edmonton and the 4th oldest in all of Alberta.
Located on 60th Ave in NW Edmonton, this brewery was originally launched by local Edmontonians Neil and Lavonne Herbst. In February 2020 the brewery was purchased by Cam French and Zane Christensen, two childhood friends from St. Albert, Alberta.
Accountants by trade, Cam and Zane had been looking for opportunities to transition into the craft brew industry, and found Alley Kat to be a good fit. According to original founder Neil Herbst, who has remained involved with the day-to-day at Alley Kat, keeping the brewery local
was a key part of the decision. “At a time when we are seeing some craft breweries being absorbed by large multinationals, keeping Alley Kat in independent hands was extremely important to us,” said Neil in 2020. “This sale ensures Alley Kay continues to remain locally owned and operated” (Alley Kat Blog, February 2020).
Since taking over the brewery, Cam and Zane have continued to focus on the foundations laid by the Herbst’s, including furthering sustainable, environmentally friendly practices wherever possible and keeping close ties with the community. In an effort to minimize their footprint as much as possible, Alley Kat looks for ways to recycle, repurpose and reduce waste throughout all stages of brewing and distribution. “From a social consciousness perspective, we know how important it is to do our part,” says Cam, “Alley Kat will always look out for the good of our customers and our environment.”
Alley Kat’s environmental practices include repurposing their spent grain, the product leftover once flavor and sugar has been extracted from their mash, by donating it to Edmonton’s Four Whistle Farm to be used as livestock feed. The brewery is also powered by Bullfrog Energy, which allows them to offset their electricity use with green energy, reducing their overall carbon footprint. Furthermore, everything that can be recycled is recycled throughout the process, and the owners continue to stress the importance of recycling the iconic Alley Kat can once it is empty.
Alley Kat Brewery has and continues to be a dedicated member of the community in Edmonton and across Alberta. Most recently, the brewery announced a partnership with the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) in support of local teams, including the Sherwood Park Crusaders, Olds Grizzlys, Whitecourt Wolverines, Drayton Valley Thunder and the Bonnyville Pontiacs. $1 from each 6-pack of Alley Kat Blonde Ale will go towards helping cover travel, meal and equipment expenses for the young athletes.
“I played hockey for Drayton Valley growing up,” says Cam, “so this is a great way to give back and help these players have the same experiences I did.”
After an exciting – if not somewhat trying – first year at Alley Kat Brewing, Cam and Zane are excited for the remainder of 2021. Fans of Alley Kat and Canmore’s Grizzly Paw Brewing can look forward to a collaboration beer, coming soon in honor of 25 years for both breweries.
A new Alley Kat “Summer Fling” mixed pack, featuring 3 new beers will be coming out soon as well, just in time for patio season, and their annual summer seasonal beer will be released on April 1st!
For more information on Alley Kat Brewing, visit https://www.alleykatbeer.com
For more stories, visit Todayville Calgary.
Alberta Sheriffs receiving additional officers and more powers with new funding
Mike Ellis shakes hands with Alberta Premier Danielle Smith after being sworn into cabinet as minister of public safety in Edmonton, Monday, Oct. 24, 2022. Alberta sheriffs will have expanded powers and play a bigger role in combating rural crime with new funding, the provincial government said Friday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
St. Paul, Alberta
The Alberta Sheriffs Branch will have expanded powers and play a bigger role in combating rural crime with new funding, the provincial government said Friday.
Public Safety Minister Mike Ellis said $27.3 million will go to new positions and for rural crime initiatives, including two plain clothes teams that will help RCMP with criminal surveillance.
The announcement comes as Alberta continues to mull over whether to create a provincial police service to replace the RCMP.
“There has been some misleading commentary about this investment in the Alberta sheriffs, namely that it’s the way of laying the groundwork for establishing a provincial police service by some other means,” Ellis said Friday in St. Paul, Alta., 200 kilometres northeast of Edmonton.
“I’d like to remind people that the provincial government hasn’t made any decision about an Alberta police service.”
Ellis said although the RCMP has its own surveillance teams, most of the efforts are focused on major investigations. He said the new sheriff teams will fill a gap by helping the RCMP detachments with local investigations.
“I’ve heard countless stories about home invasions being committed by prolific offenders or thefts from farms. Every property owner has the right to feel safe in their home and the right not to wake up and find their equipment gone or fuel siphoned from vehicles,” he said.
“These really are the type of cases that keep Albertans up at night.”
The sheriffs will also get funding to add 20 investigators to the Safer Communities and Neighbourhood unit, which uses civil enforcement to target problem properties where illegal activities take place.
There is also money for the Sheriff Highway Patrol to train and equip its members to help RCMP with emergencies and high-priority calls.
“We will provide all members of the Alberta sheriffs with full powers to arrest under the Criminal Code,” Ellis said.
“Some members of the sheriffs already have Criminal Code authorities, but we believe the public will be better served with consistency throughout this province.”
The head of the Alberta RCMP said he welcomes the additional help from the sheriffs.
“These additional resources for the Alberta Sheriffs will improve our combined ability to suppress criminal activity in rural Alberta,” said Deputy Commissioner Curtis Zablocki in a statement.
Farooq Sheikh, the chief of Alberta Sheriffs, called it a proud day.
“While our members have a visible presence in many functions they perform such as highway patrol, fish and wildlife enforcement, security in our provincial courts … the sheriffs perform a lot of important work to keep communities safe that’s outside of the public eye.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 24, 2023.
Finance Minister Travis Toews, Environment Minister Sonya Savage say won’t run again
Alberta Finance Minister Travis Toews delivers the budget, in Edmonton, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023. Toews says he will not run in the upcoming provincial election. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
By Dean Bennett in Edmonton
Two Alberta government cabinet ministers announced Friday that they will not be seeking re-election.
Travis Toews, the province’s finance minister and the runner-up to Premier Danielle Smith in last fall’s United Conservative Party leadership race, is exiting politics. Environment Minister Sonya Savage also said she will not run in the expected May 29 provincial vote.
Toews, the legislature member for Grande Prairie-Wapiti in northwestern Alberta, ended months of speculation with his announcement. He said it was a recent decision and a difficult one for him and his wife, Kim.
“(There were) personal considerations, certainly family considerations and some business considerations,” Toews said in an interview. “When we added all of them up this seemed like the right decision for us. That was the impetus for it.”
He dismissed suggestions the decision was tied to his loss to Smith or to the party’s further shift to the right under her leadership.
“We have a big tent party. This United Conservative Party has a lot of diversity. All groups are very important,” he said.
“I’m fully committed to the party, to the movement, committed to the premier and committed to an election win this May.”
Toews was elected in 2019 for the UCP and was finance minister for all but a few months when he ran to replace former premier Jason Kenney as party leader, coming in second to Smith.
Savage, the member for Calgary North-West, announced her decision to quit provincial politics with a statement on Twitter, saying she wants to spend more time with her family. She said she looks forward to remaining a party member and wished the premier and her UCP colleagues success in the upcoming election.
In a statement, Smith said Toews has been “one of the strongest finance ministers in Alberta’s history and leaves a legacy of strong fiscal management that I will continue to uphold as premier.”
“I greatly respect his decision to spend more time on the ranch and with his family,” Smith said. “There will be big boots to fill in Grande Prairie-Wapiti, and I wish him, Kim and the family nothing but the very best.”
Smith said Savage will be greatly missed.
“Minister Sonya Savage’s dedication and commitment to furthering Alberta’s energy interests and developing a Made-in-Alberta approach to responsible environmental stewardship of our natural resources will benefit Albertans for decades,” she said in a statement.
Toews had refused to discuss his future in recent weeks, saying he was focused on passing the budget, which featured a projected $2.4-billion surplus along with increased spending across the board.
The decision comes a little over a month from when the writ is expected to drop.
Smith said that given the short window, she will work with the party and the local constituency association to appoint a candidate “so that the new candidate can hit the ground running and ensure a UCP victory in this constituency.”
Toews was the early favourite to replace Kenney as leader last year – with half of the caucus members supporting him — but fell short in the end as Smith galvanized party anger with the federal government and COVID-19 health restrictions.
He locked horns with Smith during the campaign. He criticized her for past advocacy of a provincial sales tax and said her proposed — and since passed — sovereignty act would scare off investment with its promise to ignore federal laws in areas of perceived provincial jurisdiction.
As finance minister, the rancher and accountant oversaw the best and worst of Alberta’s turbulent oil-and-gas-powered economy, with massive deficits, negative oil prices and eye-popping surpluses.
He looked born to the parts of outdoorsman and number cruncher: close-cropped hair, eyeglasses and well-worn cowboy boots with a trademark monotone speaking style occasionally punctuated by high-decibel, finger-pointing attacks on the NDP Opposition during question period.
He stickhandled many controversial files, including de-indexing personal income tax, arguing for wage cuts to nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic and lifting the rate cap on auto insurance.
He was also the point person on long-running deliberations to pull Alberta out of the Canada Pension Plan in favour of a provincial one. The government has yet to release research on the merits and drawbacks of such a plan, despite promising two years ago that the release of a report was imminent.
Toews was also among those who were surreptitiously photographed in 2021 at a drinks-and-dinner get-together with Kenney on a rooftop patio on the legislature grounds in contravention of COVID-19 gathering rules.
In a statement, Opposition NDP finance critic Shannon Phillips said she admires Toew’s record.
“He conducts himself with decency and is mostly grounded in reality, unlike the new crop of Smith candidates.”
Toews said his proudest achievement is leaving the province in a better place financially than when he found it, noting the new budget also includes commitments to keeping spending under control while repaying debt and investing in long-term savings.
“We’re leading the nation in job creation,” Toews said.
“All of that tied together certainly brings some satisfaction to these last four years, which have certainly been a bit of a roller-coaster.”
He said the difficult part was long nights of no-win decisions during the COVID-19 crisis, balancing public health with personal freedoms with no clear cut black-and-white answers.
“Those were some of the hardest hours of my life serving on that COVID cabinet committee,” he said.
“(They were) impossible decisions, and knowing those decisions were going to impact Albertans directly. We certainly didn’t get it all right.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 24, 2023.
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