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Alberta

Our sports history has value

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Simple confirmation that the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame has been operating without its standard financial aid from the provincial government prompted some interesting response during the last few days.

In a casual conversation, executive director Tracey Kinsella mentioned last week that COVID-19 made it necessary to cancel at least two annual fund-raisers – the Hall of Fame induction ceremony and its annual invitational golf tournament in Red Deer – and she was concerned about meeting routine expenses.

Consistently, the government’s contribution of $302,000 a year has been in the hands of Hall of Fame officials before the middle of the year. She expressed only mild frustration,, understanding that the coronavirus pandemic and other major financial issues have created major problems far from the world of sports. She did state that government staff members, working below the level of elected or appointed officials, have told her of their efforts to have the money forwarded as quickly as possible.

Perhaps this delay must be seen as part of a long and ongoing drop in Alberta’s financial support to amateur sports at all levels. In the 10-year period ending in 2019, the reduction reached $5.1 million – an average of $500,000 per year. We should hope not.

Some comparative figures seem to be well worth serious study:

* The economic impact of the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer was $110 million; impact of the 2018 Alberta Winter Games was $3.4 million for the Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo area and $5.6  million for this host province;

* In 2018-19, Alberta Sport Connection, a sport delivery system disbanded months ago by the UPC, provided $7.2 million to be shared among 80 provincial sport organizations that delivered programming to more than 788,000 Albertans;

* Leduc hosted the 2016 Alberta Summer Games with an economic impact of $3.6 million for the area and $4.9 million for the province.

Still, government aid has dropped. Some citizens suggest minor and amateur sports should not receive government support during troubled times. Today it might be wise to ask Fort McMurray if that community will value the 2022 Arctic Winter Games? The record shows that numerous small- and mid-sized business stepped up during the 2018 Games, a difficult time for fire victims and petroleum companies that have served as a backstop to countless community and area projects.

After the severe floods earlier this year, it’s safe to guess that any international program that will improve community morale while adding some vital dollars to the public purse will be welcome. Incidentally, they’re headed to Wood Buffalo because COVID-19 forced cancellation of the scheduled 2020 event in Whitehorse. Fortunately, some of the dollars set aside and unused in the Northwest Territories have already arrived in Fort McMurray.

These days, surrounded by a crippled economy, I wonder if Alberta now wishes the 2026 Commonwealth Games were headed for Edmonton and 2026 Winter Olympics were coming to Calgary. Both possibilities were seriously discussed before being nixed.

During my five-year term as chair of Alberta Sport Connection, the organization received steady criticism for finishing third of fourth – usually in the rear of Quebec and Ontario – in provincial medal counts. I tried regularly to help almost any government official to focus on the cost of doing business.

It made no impact to point out that Alberta’s per-capita investment in sport programs is (or was) the second-lowest in Canada. Sorry, I can’t remember which province spent less, but I am sure that Saskatchewan receives $24.39 per capita and Newfoundland gets $8.36 per capita.

Alberta receives $3.85 per capita although 82 per cent of Albertans say in polls that they believe sport contributes to quality of life. And those I have spoken to say clearly that the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame has value.

John Short on Edmonton’s baseball debate

 

Alberta

Vaccines, oil prices and Husky takeover boost Cenovus outlook, says CEO Alex Pourbaix

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CALGARY — The CEO of Cenovus Energy Inc. says he’s optimistic that his oil and gas company’s second consecutive online annual shareholders meeting webcast on Wednesday will be its last.

Alex Pourbaix says the global rollout of vaccines to counteract the COVID-19 pandemic gives him hope that next year’s meeting will be held in person, with the possible addition of a simultaneous webcast for out-of-town investors.

In their first shareholders’ meeting since Cenovus bought Husky Energy Inc., former Husky directors Canning Fok, Wayne Shaw, Frank Sixt and Eva Kwok were elected to Cenovus’s 12-member board. They had been appointed earlier under terms of the acquisition.

In January 2020, Cenovus committed $50 million over five years to build up to 200 houses to help alleviate a severe housing shortage in six First Nation and Metis communities near its oilsands operations in northern Alberta.

In an update on Wednesday, Pourbaix said the program resulted in 12 new houses completed in 2020 and 38 more expected to be ready by the end of this year.

He said shareholders have much to celebrate, with Cenovus on the way to cutting net debt to $10 billion by year-end thanks to higher oil prices, along with the reinstatement of a dividend and a 96 per cent recovery in the share price between the October Husky acquisition announcement and the end of April.

“I think we can all agree that this past year has been one of unprecedented challenges for the world, for our industry and for Cenovus, and, yet, today I’m more optimistic about the future of the company than I have ever been,” he said.

“Cenovus is a stronger, more resilient, integrated Canadian energy leader thanks to our combination with Husky Energy.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 12, 2021.

Companies in this story: (TSX:CVE)

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Man linked to B.C. and Alberta charged after woman's body found in national park

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LAKE COUNTRY, B.C. — A charge of second-degree murder has been laid against a 41-year-old man following the recent discovery of a woman’s body in Kootenay National Park in southeastern B.C.

A statement from RCMP says Philip Toner was arrested Tuesday in the Okanagan and will be returned to Alberta to face the murder charge.

The body of 35-year-old Brenda Ware was found last Thursday near her vehicle along a B.C. highway through the park, but investigators say they believe the alleged killing happened in Alberta.

Police say Toner and Ware were known to each other, but the nature of their relationship has not been described.

The statement says the “complex, interprovincial investigation” is still very active and police want to speak to anyone who may have had contact with Toner between May 4 and May 11 in either Alberta or B.C.

Drivers who might have picked up a hitchhiker travelling between B.C.’s Columbia Valley and the central Okanagan district of Lake Country on those dates are also asked to contact RCMP major crime detectives.

Toner appeared in provincial court in Kelowna Wednesday and police say the BC Prosecution Service received a seven-day remand in order to return him to Alberta.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 12, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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