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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.

Opinion

We want free trade with everyone but Canadians living in other provinces.

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bc-wine Pipeline
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Free Trade with everyone but ourselves.
Canadians have been hearing a lot of talk about the need for and benefits from free trade with the Americans, the Europeans, the Chinese, and the Americans. Yah, let’s get it done.
What about free trade within our own country with other provinces?
Not so much.
We have been fighting amongst ourselves over healthcare, education, labour certification, lumber, minerals, water and a thousand other things. The latest is Alberta and British Columbia over oil and wine.
British Columbia with it’s fragile government put up barriers to the twinning of a pipeline, citing environmental concerns. Alberta countered with a ban on British Columbia’s wine.
There is a connection between oil and air pollution but there is also a connection between wine and alcohol related deaths. So is one government more righteous than the other? No, they both looking after the economic well being of their respective provinces.
British Columbia has great dealings with other governments over their energy resources, especially in the north, so they are not so pure in their stance. Alberta will continue to drink their wine, most notably from other countries.
The Federal government is the missing player in this game. They have the power to solve this situation. They can push the pipeline, which they previously approved, through British Columbia’s legal challenge. Will they?
Alberta has not been a supporter of this federal government and British Columbia has shown more support. This government needs British Columbia seats in the next election and will not gain any seats in Alberta in any case.
If they push the pipeline agenda they will be seen as anti-environment and lose seats in British Columbia and possibly in other areas that are environmentally sensitive areas.
If they do not push the pipeline agenda, they may retain their seats in British Columbia but may lose seats in the more right-wing economic sensitive ridings in other parts of the country.
We, Albertans, have been consistent in denouncing the Liberals for everything they have done or said, oftentimes without justification, in the past. We are reaping what we have sown in the political arena, as we wait for the next shoe to drop.
Mr. Trudeau, will push the pipeline agenda, and there will be people who will still complain, drive cars, fly airplanes, heat their homes and drink wine, drive under the influence, or know someone who will die due in some part to alcohol.
Then we will find another provincial barrier to argue about while we clamour for free trade with everyone else. Right?

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Opinion

A rural response to Gerald Stanley’s acquittal from a Saskatchewan farmer..

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As a person who lives on a farm in rural sask. I can offer the following insights into rural realities. I only speak for myself and my family. I don’t claim to know what I would or wouldn’t do if I was in the Stanley’s situation, nor if I was in that vehicle with Colton. I hope I never have to find out. I don’t know what life is like on farms in other places, I can’t speak to that.
I can only offer what knowledge I have of rural life…
1. If you live on a farm you are responsible for everything yourself. Snow removal, garbage disposal, water, sewer, security and safety. If your house starts on fire it’s very unlikely that the FD will arrive in time to save it. If you have a heart attack it’s very unlikely that the EMTs will arrive in time to save you. And if your family is attacked it is very unlikely that the RCMP will arrive in time to save you. You are basically on your own. I don’t feel that to say that the Stanleys could have locked themselves in the house and called the police is very reasonable. They weren’t in the house, they were all over the yard. Maybe their door didn’t even lock. Had they been in the house already they may have just hid there like their neighbor did. We can’t know either way. And where I live the earliest RCMP response would be greater than 30 mins. A lot can happen in 30 mins.
2.Anyone who enters a farmer’s property with the intent to steal from or threaten the occupants should be aware of the likely presence of weapons. All of the farmers I know have guns. More than one. Some have many. They aren’t solely or primarily for protection from would be thieves or attackers. some people collect guns, some people enjoy target shooting or hunting. On a farm it is pretty much necessary to have a gun. Where we live there are coyotes, raccoons, cougars, wolves, wild boars etc. An aggressive or rabid animal can attack your family dogs or a beloved animal may be injured or sick and need your mercy. It’s just a rural reality. But a gun can kill people just as easily as animals so everyone should just be aware that on farms there are usually guns.
3. The reasons farmers are easy targets for crime are the very same reasons they are often forced to deal with it on their own. Essentially no effective police response and isolation.
I don’t live in an area with a lot of rural crime. We’ve been robbed before and neighbors have had vehicles stolen and equipment vandalized but I would not say it’s a regular occurrence. Regardless, I have fears. I fear that this far from town someone will get injured or have a heart attack so I have our land location written by the phone and I took CPR. I fear that a snowstorm will take out our power and block our roads so we have a genset and snow moving equipment. I fear that our sewer will back up so we have an alarm and an extra pump. And I fear that if someone came into my yard with the intent or ‘the perceived intent’ to hurt my family the police would be of no help. So we have dogs, and locks on all our doors. And guns. And when guns get involved people can get hurt or killed. My point is we have to take extra precautions for things that urban people are comfortable letting ‘the professionals’ handle. Most farmers, most men actually, will do what they feel is necessary to protect their families and deal with the consequences later. No one wants to be in that position but when you live on a farm you are. You can not depend on anyone else to protect you or save you.
When people are intoxicated their judgement is impaired and they do not act or react in a predictable way. And it is safe to say when people are scared their judgement is impaired and they do not act or react in a predictable way. It’s very unfortunate that this tragedy happened at all and I feel terribly sad for all involved.

Regan from Saskatchewan

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