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Opinion

Latest report on pollution validates my Reason #4 for not supporting the status quo.

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  • Red Deer Advocate has a story detailing a report about our poor air quality being from human activities and needs government, industry and individual co-operation.
    Anyone who has been following my blogs or reading my letters to the editor will know this is what I have been talking about for years. It also validates my reason #4 on why I cannot support the status quo blogged on Today Ville .com.
    # 4 reason I cannot support the status quo is our air quality. We have the poorest air quality in Alberta and Alberta has the poorest air quality in Canada. Riverside Drive monitors have been in “requires immediate attention” range for years.
    The report reads; “Red Deer air quality has exceeded national standards for fine particulate matter for three consecutive reporting periods — 2009-11, 2010-12, 2011-13.”
    How long do we wait after the alarms go off, 5,6,7,8 years? The alarms started going off in 2009 and we watched, debated and waited for 8 years. I know we put up “Idle free zones” at schools etc. but we could have done more.
    Part of the report talks about emmissions. Does it make any sense then to compartmentalize the city. All industries in the Northwest part of city, all high schools in the east/southeast extreme edges of the city, all new facilities built on the south side of the river creating a commuting city.
    A blog I wrote in January, followed by CBC news from 2015 and a statement made by the Environment Minister.
    My blog from January:
    There are provincial quality standards for the air we breathe. Since 2010 our air quality has been in the “Requires Immediate Attention” category. The air in Riverside Park is the worst area in Red Deer. I have been writing about it for years.
    A report came out, telling us to breathe easy, because downtown Edmonton is a little bit worse and downtown Calgary is worse yet. So Riverside Park is okay because it is only the 3rd worse in Alberta. Fort MacMurray was worse during the forest fires, but as a whole the oilsands city is better than Red Deer.
    So, everyone relax, the air is worse in the concrete jungle in our 2 large cities, why worry? Lethbridge, has about the same population, and cleaner air, but we are better than Jasper Avenue by a point.
    We can always console ourselves with comparing our air with Toronto.
    How can we be so smug by comparing us to a high density area like downtown Calgary. If we wanted to live in an asphalt jungle with poor air, we would move there. If the air quality was better than all of Calgary or all of Edmonton, they would have reported it, but they didn’t. They found 2 areas, high density, high traffic areas that have poorer air and declared; we are not the worse. Let us celebrate.
    Leduc has cleaner air, Airdrie has cleaner air, Nisku has cleaner air, and Lethbridge has cleaner air. Standards tell us, and have been for years, that “immediate action required” and I do not think that looking for pockets of poorer air is what they meant.
    I guess I will have to be happy, that downtown Calgary and Edmonton have worse air than Red Deer. I am just giddy, not.
    Compare apples with apples, and oranges with oranges. We know when we are being sold a line. By the way, the alarms are still going off. Remember” REQUIRES IMMEDIATE ATTENTION”.

    “CBC NEWS” SEPTEMBER 9 2015
    Alberta on track to have worst air quality in Canada
    Red Deer has worst pollution in province, while 4 other regions close to exceeding national standards

    Alberta Environment Minister Shannon Phillips says the province is on track to have the worst air quality in Canada, and vows the government will put measures in place to reduce emissions from industry and vehicles.
    “The time to act is long overdue,” Phillips said.
    “We have a responsibility to do everything we can to protect the health of Albertans.”
    Phillips made the remarks after seeing the results of the Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards report, which show the Red Deer region has exceeded national standards. Four other regions — Lower Athabasca, Upper Athabasca, North Saskatchewan and South Saskatchewan — are close to exceeding national standards.
    Phillips said there is no immediate health risk for people living in central Alberta.
    “These results are concerning,” Phillips said in a news release. “We can’t keep going down the same path and expecting a different result. Our government has a responsibility to protect the health of Albertans by ensuring air pollution from all sources is addressed.”
    The province will initiate an “action plan” to deal with poor air quality in the Red Deer area, a move she said is required under the Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards.
    The government said a scientific study looking into the cause of the air pollutants is currently underway, and people living in the Red Deer area, industry stakeholders and the provincial energy regulator will be consulted. That plan is expected to be complete by the end of September and will take Red Deer’s geography and air patterns into consideration.
    As part of the plan, Phillips said the government will:
    Review technology that could be used to reduce emissions.
    Review whether polluters in Alberta are meeting national standards.
    Look at other ways to reduce emissions, for example, ways to curb vehicle emissions.
    The Pembina Institute, non-profit think tank focused on clean energy, was quick to follow up with its own statement about the air quality results, saying the report shows the need for a provincewide pollution reduction strategy.
    “This new report adds to the mounting evidence that Alberta needs to reduce air pollution across the province. Measures that will produce more rapid results are also needed in the numerous regional hot spots identified by the report,” said Chris Severson-Baker, Alberta’s regional director at the Pembina Institute.
    “The report shows that, unless emissions are cut, most of the province risks exceeding the Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards for fine particulate matter. This places an unacceptable burden on people’s health and on the environment,” he said.
    The Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment has also weighed in on the report, saying it is “dismayed, but not surprised” by the findings.
    “This calls into question the pervasive belief that the clear blue skies of Alberta foster clean air, safe from the pollutants better known from smoggier climes,” said Dr. Joe Vipond, an emergency room doctor and member of the association.
    Phillips blamed the previous Tory government for contributing to the rising pollution levels, saying the PCs resisted meaningful action on climate change.
    Canadian Ambient Air Quality Standards are national standards for particulate matter and ozone exposure. This is the first year of annual reporting by all provinces and territories.
    The Alberta government is now working on a climate change policy to take to the United Nations Climate Change conference in Paris this fall.

    Shall we continue to debate? Let the province do something? Revisit this issue in 2021 election? Should we look at it starting with planning? Could we start by building a high school or a new recreation centre north of the river? Could we look at putting some industrial parks south of the river? Could we look at planning for less commuting? Can we start with small steps instead of waiting? I hope so.


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    Opinion

    Someone Needs Replacing at Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools

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  • Once you put children safety at risk… I can’t be silent any longer.

    From charitable tax receipts not being issued correctly… to having private information of your child’s educational performance being stored and “pushed” to you by foreign apps that you must agree to their terms saying that information is processed by foreign servers, to hearing wasteful spending radio ads, to leaving an entire bus route of elementary school children stranded for nearly an hour while their “bus status app” says “all buses on time”.

    Yes, this is what the RDCRS has to offer you in just this past year alone.

    I ran for trustee in 2013, so sure, some might try to spin this as sour grapes, but when you are tired of administrators that have stopped focusing on children and have become more focused on child recruitment, you have a problem. I ran for a trustee position to prevent this very type of thing going on, and here we sit.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love the teachers, their assistants, and staff doing everything to help the children. But something needs to be done at the top.

    Charitable Receipts

    To be eligible for a charitable donation credit, all tax receipts must have the Registered Charity number on them. This is a 9-digit number followed by “RR” and then 4 more digits. Every single RDCRS receipt received by my accounting firm this past tax season was missing this number. This was raised by yours truly to their office on behalf of my clients. They did not reissue replacements until I pushed back repeatedly and individually per client. They said over the phone they would not be mailing out replacements for everyone. So, if you donated this past year, enjoy your reassessment.

    Performance Reports

    We all want to know how our child(ren) is(are) doing in school. This past year RDCRS decided to launch the use of PowerSchool LLC. They say all of your child’s information is held on Canadian servers. However, when you go to sign up for the app it says that the app uses foreign servers for you to access, view, and receive notifications on, your child’s performance. This is how a foreign app works.

    While you may store information in Canada, it is being sent through other connections and servers in a foreign country like the United States. While I’m fine seeing pictures on social media or getting the quick note from a teacher about what “little Johnny” did today… when it comes to academic performance and review, privacy and security steps should be taken. When I raised this concern with the superintendent, his response is that commercial privacy laws do not apply to them.

    In my request I stated:

    “Further to my previous e-mail: although PIPEDA may not apply to RDCRS directly, by engaging a corporate entity, you are required under FOIP S.38 and 39(1) to have proper controls in place which would require our consent. The corporate entity PowerSchool LLC is to be bound by PIPEDA as well as the stricter Alberta version, PIPA, as it is not a government agency. The app from the Canadian version of the app store that you have instructed parents to use to access is warning us upon installation that the data is being routed via PowerSchool LLC’s US resident servers. This is not a violation of PIPEDA by PowerSchool LLC directly, as they are requesting our permission on installing the app. This warning does not exist unless you are in Canada. This is not a “default”, this is a requirement by PowerSchool for any notifications to Canadian resident users.

    However, the letter sent to parents states that we are required to sign up, or we will not receive information. Requiring parents to use the app in order to access report cards and information on our children is not allowing for our consent, it is being forced. A government department forcing a parent to accept a foreign corporation’s “terms of service agreement” is in violation of FOIP.”

    His response:
    “In your message you reference Sec. 38 and 39(1) of the FOIP Act. Our school division is in compliance with these sections of this Act as we have proper controls in place because our student data is housed on our servers. We protect personal information by using reasonable security arrangements against risk of unauthorized access. As a result parent consent is not required.”

    So parent consent is not required with the school division, but yet parent consent is required by the corporate entity, which then routes the data from Canada through their U.S. server. However, if you don’t consent, you don’t get updates other than a final report at the end of the “reporting term”. Sounds like forced consent to me. Why would I want to have my child’s personal and private information sent through a foreign country?

    Radio Ads

    Instead of focusing on children that they have, they would rather recruit more children instead. During the 2013 election, I was amazed how a former trustee chair stated, “if we convert just one child to Catholicism then it [advertising] is worth it.”

    Apparently, conversion is more important than the education of the children already there.

    I have asked how much was spent on advertising but the only response I received was “fill out a freedom of information request. There will be fees associated with it because it is not your personal information.”

    How many textbooks could we have purchased for the amount they spend on advertising in a year? I’m sure many parents would like to know.

    This brings me to today.

    Transport

    An entire bus route of elementary school children did not get picked up today. Instead, they were sitting outside for 45 minutes when my children contacted me in panic tears and said the bus didn’t come. Like any parent, at first, I was questioning my kids… then worried for other children… then mad.

    Why did I get mad?

    Well, you see the RDCRS has a wonderful “app” that is supposed to notify parents if a bus is canceled or running late. But the status for the route said “On time”.

    So I asked my kids if they missed the bus, they said no, because the other kids at their stop were there too.

    When I picked up my children (and one of the neighbour’s kids after getting permission from her parent) we continued along the route and saw many more children waiting along the route. We pulled over to tell them to contact their parents as it appears there is no bus.

    When I arrived with my children at the school I informed them of the issues. Now, to the school’s staff credit, the school responded quickly and the vice principal drove the route to check the safety of the kids.

    However, when I called the transport office, which is owned and run by RDCRS, they stated that they “had a no-show and only found out now.” They still did not update the bus status on the app and this was one hour after the route was to begin.

    Every employer has some sort of attendance system. Couriers use radios and GPS to track vehicles and routes. But somehow the RDCRS transport office doesn’t have a way to track if a driver showed up to work or not? Or if a bus is on a route or not?

    Then what is the point of an app to notify parents if you don’t use it?

    I’ve been relatively quiet publicly on these things, but today, when you put children safety at risk, it was the last straw.


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    Opinion

    If Canadians believed in Gender Equality why in 151 years have we not allowed a female Premier a second term.

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  • If Gender Equality is so important to Canadians, why do we not allow female Premiers a second term?
    Many argue that historically parties in decline and doomed to electoral defeat elect a female leader to clean up their mess. When the mess gets tidied enough for a possible electoral win they replace the female with a male.
    2 recent examples may be highlighted with British Columbia’s Christie Clark and Ontario’s Kathleen Wynne. Were they desperate measures for parties in decline? Yes according to polls at the time of their taking the reins.
    Alberta’s Allison Redford could be another example but not Alberta’s current Premier, Rachel Notley.
    With most cases, the women were elected leaders of governing parties, but not Alberta’s NDP Premier Rachel Notley. She became a party leader then became Premier through a provincial election.
    She outshone her competition that was split on the right and many of her MLAs rode her coat tails to victory.
    She cleaned up a lot of messes and unfinished business, so is it time to give the office back to a man? According to many talking heads on the television, it looks like we are.
    So is gender equality really important to Canadians or are women here for cleaning up the messes of men and only arm candy for political parties desperate for the next win?
    We have been slow to give women the right to vote, we have yet to give them income parity, we are still trying in some circles to control a woman’s right to control her own body, so will we ever allow a woman to have a second term as a Premier in Canada? I hope so.
    I have argued with various ministries of this government, on issues like no high schools north of the river and plans for 5 high schools east of 30 Ave. in Red Deer. Basically thinking that they were identical to the previous 40 years of Conservative governments, on these issues.
    Now it appears that this government has made progress on many other issues like minimum wage, environment, and pipelines, they are very different from the previous Conservative governments.
    Based on skills, accomplishments, direction and many other things, I will consider voting for giving for the first time in Canadian history a second term as Premier to a female. GASP.


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    Community Events

    june, 2018

    wed30may - 26sepmay 303:30 pmsep 26ATB Financial Downtown Market(may 30) 3:30 pm - (september 26) 6:30 pm

    sun10jun - 24jun 1010:00 amjun 242018 Edgar Farms Asparagus Festival10:00 am - 4:00 pm (24)

    sun17jun - 1juljun 1710:00 amjul 1- 4:00 pm2018 Edgar Farms Asparagus Festival10:00 am - (july 1) 4:00 pm

    tue19jun7:00 pm- 11:30 pmSebastian Bach w/ Guest The Standstills & Sweetgrass- June 19th7:00 pm - 11:30 pm

    tue19jun - 15juljun 198:00 pmjul 15Freewill Shakespeare Festival8:00 pm - (july 15) 10:30 pm

    wed20jun9:00 am- 11:00 amAlliance MeetingsTopic: Red Deer’s Community Safety Strategy9:00 am - 11:00 am

    wed20jun5:45 pm- 8:00 pmRed Deer County Eco-Buffer and Shelterbelt Workshop5:45 pm - 8:00 pm

    thu21jun - 3juljun 216:30 pmjul 3THE WORKS ART & DESIGN FESTIVAL6:30 pm - (july 3) 12:00 am

    fri22jun - 1juljun 227:30 pmjul 1- 9:15 pmEdmonton International Jazz Festival7:30 pm - (july 1) 9:15 pm

    fri22jun - 23jun 229:00 pmjun 23A Weekend With St. James Gate I Bo's Bar & Stage9:00 pm - 1:00 am (23)

    sat23junAll DayRed Deer Highland Games(All Day: saturday)

    sat23jun4:00 pm- 8:00 pmOlds Beer Festival4:00 pm - 8:00 pm

    sun24jun11:00 am- 2:00 pmOne Eleven Jazzy Brunch11:00 am - 2:00 pm

    mon25jun - 3sepAll DayRip ‘N Rec Summer Pass returns for youth in Red Deer(All Day)

    tue26jun5:00 pm- 6:30 pmUnited Way Central Alberta Annual General Meeting5:00 pm - 6:30 pm

    tue26jun - 22juljun 268:00 pmjul 22Freewill Shakespeare Festival8:00 pm - (july 22) 10:30 pm

    wed27jun - 1juljun 279:00 amjul 1- 8:00 pmWestern Canadian Breeders Championships9:00 am - (july 1) 8:00 pm

    wed27jun2:00 pm- 3:30 pmMayor’s Garden Party2:00 pm - 3:30 pm

    sat30jun9:00 am- 12:00 pmRed Deer Roundup 5k/10k/15k Run9:00 am - 12:00 pm

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