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Alberta

Farms in B.C. and Alberta latest to have confirmed outbreaks of avian influenza

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VANCOUVER — The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has confirmed two more outbreaks of avian influenza in small flocks — one in southern British Columbia and the other in southeastern Alberta.

A statement from the agency says the H5N1 strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza was identified Saturday in the flock in Cypress County, Alta., and on Sunday among birds in the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen in B.C.

The B.C. case came one day after 4,000 turkeys on a Fraser Valley farm were due to be euthanized as avian flu was verified last week on two commercial poultry farms in B.C.’s poultry producing hub of Abbotsford.

Data from the food inspection agency shows the outbreak is the 12th recorded in B.C. since the province’s first case on April 13.

The infection in Cypress County, near Medicine Hat, is the 29th in Alberta but the first in more than a week.

The agency warns that the so-called bird flu is spreading globally and outbreaks have been confirmed in every province except Prince Edward Island.

However, only B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec have recorded new cases in May.

Poultry owners are being advised to use strict infection control measures and to take precautions to keep their flocks separate, secure and unable to mix with wild birds, which are believed to be carrying the virus.

A wildlife centre in central Alberta said last week that it was caring for four young foxes that likely picked up avian flu after eating carcasses of birds that died of the illness, and there was concern more scavengers could become ill.

The food inspection agency said no human cases of avian flu have been detected.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 24, 2022.

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Alberta

Calgary Stampede receives $10M from federal government to aid recovery from pandemic

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Calgary – The Calgary Stampede has received more than $10 million from the federal government to help it bounce back after last year’s event was scaled down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A report to the city this week showed the Stampede had an operating loss of $8.3 million in 2021.

Last year’s Stampede ran at half capacity because of COVID-19 public health measures and was cancelled all-together the year before.

Daniel Vandal, the federal minister for Prairies Economic Development Canada, says the money aims to support a full-scale Stampede to deliver the “authentic western experience” this year.

He says it would also help to reignite Alberta’s visitor economy.

The 2022 Stampede is set to run from July 8 to 17.

“Festivals large and small were hard hit during the pandemic,” Vandal said in a news release. “They are events where families and friends come together and take in the exciting atmosphere.

“The tourism industry is facing a strong comeback providing quality jobs across the country, showcasing stunning landscapes and offering exciting experiences right here in Alberta.”

The federal government also provided about $1.8 million for four other tourism projects in southern Alberta: Charmed Resorts, Cochrane Tourism Association, Heritage Park and Tourism Calgary.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 30, 2022.

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Alberta

Alberta Utilities Commission approves $31M ATCO fine, says in public interest

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The Alberta Utilities Commission has approved a $31-million fine proposed for ATCO Electric’s attempts to overcharge ratepayers for costs it shouldn’t have incurred.

In April, ATCO Electric agreed to pay the penalty after a commission investigation found it deliberately overpaid a First Nation group for work on a new transmission line.

It said ATCO also failed to disclose the reasons for the overpayment when it applied to be reimbursed by ratepayers for the extra cost.

But in May, the Consumers’ Coalition of Alberta said the proposed settlement doesn’t adequately compensate people in the province for the harm they have suffered.

The commission says in its ruling that after carefully considering the settlement agreement, it is satisfied that accepting it is consistent with the public interest.

The commission also says the agreement would not bring the administration of justice into disrepute.

“The commission considers that the settlement is fit and reasonable, falling within a range of reasonable outcomes given the circumstances,” reads the ruling released Wednesday.

The settlement came after an investigation into a complaint that ATCO Electric sole-sourced a contract in 2018 for work needed for a transmission line to Jasper, Alta.

The agreement says that was partly because another of Calgary-based ATCO’s subsidiaries had a deal with a First Nation for projects, including for work camps on the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion.

The statement of facts says ATCO Electric feared that if it didn’t grant the Jasper contract to the First Nation, it might back out of its deal with ATCO Structures and Logistics. It’s illegal for a regulated utility to benefit a non-regulated company in this way.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 29, 2022.

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