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Alberta

Province Bighorn Country public info sessions are on again

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From the Province of Alberta

Bighorn Country public info sessions restart

The Provincial Government has rescheduled four public information sessions on the Bighorn Country proposal for Feb. 1 – 4.

In order to ensure Albertans have information on the proposed mix of parks and public lands in the Bighorn region, public information sessions are now scheduled for Drayton Valley, Edmonton, Red Deer and Sundre. Participants will have the opportunity to talk to program staff, view maps of the region, and submit feedback directly at more than 30 information stations.

“Many Albertans are deeply passionate about the Bighorn – that’s why we are consulting with all Albertans on a proposal for Bighorn Country. Already, we’ve engaged more than 50,000 Albertans and restarting these information sessions will allow us to reach even more. These sessions will make sure Albertans can ask questions, learn more about the proposal and share their views.”

Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks

Public information sessions will be held:

Drayton Valley

Friday, Feb. 1
Clean Energy Technology Centre Map
5400 22 Avenue
Drayton Valley
4 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Edmonton

Saturday, Feb. 2
Polish Hall Map
10960 104 Street
Edmonton
1 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Red Deer

Sunday, Feb. 3
Westerner Centre Map
4847A 19 Street
Red Deer
1 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Sundre

Monday, Feb. 4
Royal Canadian Legion Map
135 6 Street SE
Sundre
4 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Each of the sites have undergone a safety and security review. People can also review the proposal and provide feedback online by visiting talkaep.alberta.ca. The deadline for submitting feedback is Feb. 1

Quick facts

  • Bighorn Country includes public lands from the boundary of Banff National Park eastward towards Drayton Valley. It includes Clearwater County, most of Brazeau County and the current Bighorn Backcountry management area.
  • The Bighorn region is recognized for its scenic beauty and natural diversity. It includes scenic mountains and foothills, rare plants and key habitat for numerous species at risk such as grizzly bear, wolverine, harlequin duck, Athabasca rainbow trout and bull trout.
  • The headwaters of the North Saskatchewan River and Red Deer River are located within Bighorn Country, providing clean drinking water to more than one million Albertans.
  • Sharing this busy landscape is a wide variety of recreation and tourism activities. Hunting and fishing are popular, as well as camping, hiking, off-highway vehicle use, horseback riding, ice climbing and cross-country skiing.
  • The Bighorn Country proposal includes new, expanded or amended parks, protected areas and public land use zones. This system of public lands is intended to provide a range of opportunities that suits the settings and demands of the region.
  • The proposal means no significant change to recreation activities, but offers $40 million in new investment to improve services and infrastructure such as campsites, parking lots, trails and staging areas.
  • The proposal supports continued practice of traditional uses and the exercise of treaty rights by Indigenous Peoples.

Tourism Development

Tourism is an important contributor to the region’s economy and Bighorn Country possesses unrealised tourism potential.

Modifying existing land designations could provide for different types of tourism development. Combined, these could support new opportunities, directly bene tting businesses and the local economy. Appropriate commercial recreation and tourism development could be identi ed through the parks planning process, including public consultation and engagement.

Bighorn Wildland Provincial Park

• Would conserve nature and allow low-impact backcountry recreation activities and services provided by both the public and private sectors.

• Focus on high-quality hunting, shing and other nature-based recreation experiences.

• Equestrian and off-highway vehicle use would continue, where appropriate, on designated trails.

Snow Creek Provincial Recreation Area

  • Minor expansion would allow development of winter tourism activities, potentially including a Nordic ski trail system.
  • Could provide a staging area for snowmobiles to access adjacent trails.

Kiska-Willson Public Land Use Zone

  • Would continue to provide a large network of trails for motorized and non-motorized use.
  • Would continue to support exploration for, and development of, coal, limestone and other resources.
  • The northern portion would provide commercial recreation and tourism opportunities, while the southern portion would focus on low-impact backcountry recreation and tourism.

    West Country Public Land Use Zone

  • Trails and camping areas would remain open. Future recreation management planning is needed to thoughtfully manage impacts of recreation activities on other land uses and the environment.
  • Would continue to permit industrial uses, such as forestry and energy, and existing public land recreation areas would remain.
  • Recreation planning may include new trails, staging areas and other infrastructure, including support for commercial recreation and tourism development.

    Bighorn Dam Provincial Recreation Area

  • Focus would be on providing trails, staging areas and campgrounds to suit different recreation and tourism uses.
  • OHV and snowmobile use would be permitted on designated trails, and a staging area would link campgrounds to the existing trail network in surrounding areas.

    Hummingbird Provincial Recreation Area

  • An important campground and staging area that provides access to the Bighorn Wildland Provincial Park or the Kiska-Willson Public Land Use Zone.
  • Focus would be on providing trails, staging areas and campgrounds to suit different recreation and tourism uses.

    Shunda Provincial Recreation Area

  • Would expand and consolidate Fish Lake and Goldeye Lake Provincial Recreation Areas.
  • Focus would be on maintaining, enhancing and providing new facilities and infrastructure to suit diverse recreation and tourism uses.

David Thompson Provincial Park

• Would incorporate the Thompson Creek and Kootenay Plains Provincial Recreation Areas and the Kootenay Plains Ecological Reserve.

• Would offer a number of front country experiences and connect visitors with the Bighorn Wildland Provincial Park.

• Focus would be on developing services, facilities and infrastructure to support current and future demand for recreation and tourism opportunities while prioritizing conservation.

North Saskatchewan River Provincial Park

  • Would protect important natural landscapes that are unique to Bighorn Country.
  • Would provide opportunities for water-based recreation, hiking, mountain biking and equestrian uses.
  • Parks management planning would help determine the need for speci c trails and infrastructure to support conservation, recreation, tourism and education.

    Ya Ha Tinda Provincial Park

    • Ya Ha Tinda Provincial Park contains diverse landscape types and a wide range of experiences.

    • It is an important staging area for the Bighorn Wildland Provincial Park, providing access for equestrian and other recreational uses.

Have Your Say Today

Visit talkAEP.alberta.ca today to give us your feedback on the Bighorn Country proposal.

Consultation will be open from November 23, 2018 to January 31, 2019.  Over this period, we will gain your input on the future of the Bighorn area.

If we proceed, further consultation would be held to inform recreation and management planning.

After 15 years as a TV reporter with Global and CBC and as news director of RDTV in Red Deer, Duane set out on his own 2008 as a visual storyteller. During this period, he became fascinated with a burgeoning online world and how it could better serve local communities. This fascination led to Todayville, launched in 2016.

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Alberta

Alberta government says jobs, economy, COVID to be focus of fall legislature sitting

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EDMONTON — The Alberta government plans a busy fall legislature sitting aimed at adding jobs and diversifying the economy while focusing on tamping down the renewed surge of COVID-19.

Government house leader Jason Nixon says this will include proposed legislation on recognizing professional credentials to address labour shortages. The bill will be introduced by Premier Jason Kenney.

“Our focus will be on Alberta’s workforce, a couple of bills around diversifying the economy, a big focus on building infrastructure for our future, (and) growing our resources, particularly on the energy side,” Nixon said in an interview Friday.

There will also be new initiatives on environmental protection and conservation.

Nixon said there will be 18 to 20 bills for the sitting, which begins Monday and is scheduled to run to the first week of December. 

“It’s a very robust fall agenda,” he said.

Nixon said the government will continue to take steps to reduce COVID-19 cases, which have severely stressed the health system.

No COVID-19-specific bills are planned, he said, noting they were passed in previous sittings. 

“There’s certainly other stuff to be done to manage the pandemic … but we’ll stand ready if Alberta Health needs us to pass any legislation to deal with the pandemic.”

He said debate in the chamber is expected to return to some semblance of normalcy.

In the spring sitting, both the United Conservative government and the Opposition NDP reduced their numbers in the chamber to prevent the spread of the virus. 

This time, with all NDP members and all but one on the UCP side vaccinated, all will be allowed back in for debate.

The lone UCP member has a medical exemption and will be tested regularly, said Nixon.

He said there are still masking rules and members will try to maintain distancing where possible.

The NDP said it plans to hold the government accountable for what went disastrously wrong on COVID-19.

“This fall sitting of the legislature will be laser-focused on getting answers from the UCP on why they’ve failed Albertans so miserably in managing the devastating fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Christina Gray, the NDP house leader.

“Since July 15, more than 85,000 additional Albertans have been infected with the virus and 700 have died.”

Gray said the NDP will call for an all-party inquiry into the government’s handling of the pandemic with the power to compel documents and testimony.

Nixon said the government will not agree to such a motion. He said it would be wrong to redeploy vital health resources right now and that Kenney has promised an eventual review of how the province handled the pandemic.

Kenney has also promised to bring forward a motion to ratify and act on the results of Monday’s provincewide referendum on Canada’s equalization program.

Final results aren’t in from Edmonton, but figures from Calgary and other cities suggest the referendum will pass with about 60 per cent in support of urging the federal government to remove the principle of equalization from the Constitution.

Kenney has said the issue is not about removing equalization, something no province can do unilaterally, but about getting leverage to negotiate other issues surrounding federal transfers to attain a better deal with Ottawa.

Political scientist Jared Wesley said Kenney will likely continue to focus on initiatives such as the equalization referendum, if only to change the narrative on his low popularity ratings.

“The premier will be spending most of his time, if he has anything to say about it, outside the province, stumping for this fair deal,” said Wesley, with the University of Alberta.

COVID-19 numbers have been trending down in recent weeks. But Kenney and Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province’s chief medical officer of health, say the situation remains precarious.

On Friday, there were just over 10,000 active COVID-19 cases in Alberta. And there were 191 COVID-19 patients in intensive care. 

Alberta’s fourth wave troubles began after Kenney lifted almost all COVID-19 related health restrictions as of July 1, boasting that the pandemic had moved to the “endemic” phase and there was no need to plan for a renewed case surge.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 22, 2021.

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

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Alberta

'You're looking at it:' Undercover officer says suspect led them to burial site

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CALGARY — A Calgary man who killed his girlfriend and is on trial for the murder of her young daughter took undercover officers in the middle of the night to a remote, snow-covered area where they were buried.

Robert Leeming, who is 36, has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of Jasmine Lovett and not guilty to second-degree murder in the death of 22-month-old Aliyah Sanderson. 

The mother and toddler were reported missing in April of 2019 after they didn’t show up for a family dinner.

Court heard this week that Leeming was befriended by two undercover officers, who told him they had retrieved a bag of evidence from a nosy neighbour. 

They offered to help him with his problems — including removing the bodies of Lovett and her daughter, who were in a shallow grave under a pile of mulch and branches in a day-use area west of Calgary.

One of the officers testified that Leeming knew exactly where the bodies were.

The officer said they went to the area in the early morning of May 6, 2019, and walked a short distance on foot.

“I said, ‘OK, where to?’ And (Leeming) goes, ‘You’re looking at it.’ And he points down. And underneath and against my left foot were branches and a pile,” said the officer.

“(Leeming) goes and he grabs a branch and lifts it up as if to prove what’s underneath all these branches. As he does that, I see a small bit of blue that I believe to be the moving blankets.”

Investigators previously testified that the mother and child were doused in gasoline and wrapped in blue blankets before they were covered in dirt, mulch and branches.

The trial also heard that Lovett had skull fractures and was shot in the head. Aliyah died of blunt force head trauma.

The officer said Leeming boasted about steps he had taken to hinder a possible police investigation — including hiding wads of raw bacon around his house to throw off cadaver dogs and filling the back of his car with mulch.

“Well, mulch is death, right? So it smells like death,” Leeming told the officers in a tape recording played in court.

“You cleaned that car up good?” asked the undercover officer. 

“Oh, yeah,” he replied.

The officer said Leeming also expressed relief that his 2014 Mercedes seized by police was an older model.

“It’s funny ’cause they were telling me the Mercedes, they pretty much can hook up to the computer in the car and know exactly where I’ve been,” Leeming said with a laugh. 

“It’s too old a car. If it was an ’18, then I’d be in jail.”

The prosecution was expected to wrap up its case Friday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 22, 2021.

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

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