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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

 

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Alberta

Edmonton hospital stops admitting patients due to COVID-19 outbreak

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EDMONTON — A hospital in west Edmonton is tightening restrictions as COVID-19 cases continue to increase at the facility.

An outbreak at the Misericordia Community Hospital was first declared by Alberta’s chief medical officer of health on June 23 when six patients and two staff on one unit tested positive.

Alberta Health Services says in a news release there are now 18 patients and 14 staff members with COVID-19 — eight new cases were identified on the weekend.

Officials say two patients linked to the outbreak have died.

The health agency says the Misericordia is closed to new admissions and to transfers of surgical and medicine patients.

EMS personnel will take patients to other hospitals in Edmonton, unless there is an emergency where the Misericordia is the closest acute-care site.

Officials say women in labour can come to the hospital if it was the planned birth site and day surgeries will still take place. Surgeries requiring an overnight stay will be postponed or completed at another hospital.

They say patients who have tested positive are being cared for together on three units, including the hospital’s designated COVID-19 unit. However, eight units are now included in the outbreak restrictions as a precaution.

Alberta Health Services says the Misericordia is still safe for patients.

“We are taking this situation extremely seriously and have taken swift action,” Dr. David Zygun, medical director for the Edmonton zone, said in a news release Monday. “We are taking these significant measures to ensure the safety of patients, staff, physicians, and volunteers.”

Alberta had a total of 8,259 COVID-19 cases as of Friday. Of those, 572 cases were active, 7,532 people had recovered and 155 had died.

Forty-two people are in hospital, with nine in intensive care.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 6, 2020

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Cannabis retailer Fire & Flower unveils pilot stores in Circle K partnership

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EDMONTON — Fire & Flower Holdings Inc. has unveiled the first examples of its new cannabis retail partnership with the owner of Circle K convenience stores and gasoline bars.

The Edmonton-based cannabis company says it expects to benefit from high-traffic Circle K locations while complying with all applicable regulations.

Its partner is Quebec-based Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc., which acquired 9.9 per cent of Fire & Flower’s equity in July 2019 with options to increase its stake to 50.1 per cent.

Alimentation Couche-Tard operates internationally and in most of Canada under the Circle K banner but still does business in its home province as Couche-Tard.

In addition to being licensed to sell cannabis in several provinces, Fire & Flower has developed a digital retail platform for its business.

Chief executive Trevor Fencott says Fire & Flower’s technology and co-location strategy position it to capitalize on domestic and international opportunities.

Fire & Flower were at about 76 cents per share in afternoon trading, up nearly six per cent from Friday’s close, but down about 50 per cent since the Couche-Tard investment last July.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 6 2020.

Companies in this story: (TSX:FAF TSX:ATD.A TSX:ATD.B)

The Canadian Press

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july, 2020

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