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Red Deer Justice Centre looking to add courtroom space as construction nears completion

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Construction of the new Red Deer Justice Centre is nearing completion.

Alberta’s government is investing in courthouse infrastructure to provide Albertans with courthouses that are modern, safe and easy to access.

Upgrading and building new courthouses improves Albertans’ access to the justice system by adding courtrooms and making buildings easier for everyone to navigate. Red Deer is getting a new building with additional courtrooms while Brooks, Hinton and Peace River will see renovations to the existing courthouses to make them more user-friendly and to provide updated security, privacy and accessibility features.

Red Deer Justice Centre

With an investment of more than $200 million, construction of the new Red Deer Justice Centre is nearing completion. Once finished, it will have 12 courtrooms ready for use, an increase from eight at the current facility. This will allow more cases to be heard at one time so matters can proceed in a timely manner. A $200,000 investment in Budget 2023 will support a planning study to build out four additional courtrooms, which, when complete, will bring the total number of courtrooms to 16.

The justice centre will also have spaces for people taking alternative approaches to the traditional courtroom trial process, with three new suites for judicial dispute resolution services, a new Indigenous courtroom with dedicated venting for smudging purposes, and a dedicated suite for alternative dispute resolution services such as family mediation and civil mediation.

Albertans continue to access court services at the existing Red Deer courthouse while the new centre is being built.

“Upgrading our province’s courthouses gives Albertans a more secure and comfortable experience when they need to visit court. By building a new justice centre in Red Deer, we are taking steps to increase capacity in the justice system to keep up with demand.”

Mickey Amery, Minister of Justice and Attorney General

Brooks courthouse

The upgraded Brooks courthouse is fully operational, as renovations were completed in August. A $4.6-million investment by Alberta’s government enabled many improvements to the courthouse, including a new public waiting area, vulnerable witness room, holding cells, prisoner dock and other updates. Alberta’s government is also investing in upgrades to courtroom audiovisual equipment at the Brooks courthouse.

“Access to justice services within communities across Alberta is critically important. Not only will these projects help increase access to the judicial system, boost the local economy and create jobs, they will also ensure effective and accessible delivery of services Albertans rely on.”

Pete Guthrie, Minister of Infrastructure

Hinton courthouse

Alberta’s government has invested $2.7 million for accessibility improvements to the Hinton courthouse. Improvements include wider entrances and more accessible handicap buttons at the main entrance and public washrooms, and more space at security screening areas. Renovations began in July and are expected to be complete by the end of the year. In the meantime, Albertans are accessing court services at the nearby Pembina Place building.

“The Canadian Bar Association – Alberta Branch has long been calling for upgrades to Alberta’s court infrastructure through our Agenda for Justice, including improving courtroom technology to make virtual appearances more widely available, improving physical accessibility to ensure that all Albertans can safely access court facilities, and improving capacity to address our province’s growing population. We are pleased to see these improvements underway, and look forward to continued investments in Alberta’s court infrastructure and modernization.”

Kyle Kawanamim, president, Canadian Bar Association – Alberta Branch

Peace River courthouse

To increase accessibility, Alberta’s government is providing $250,000 for a barrier-free access project at the courthouse in Peace River. Operations are expected to continue without disruption during renovations, which will begin next month.

 

This is a news release from the Government of Alberta.

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Alberta

Indigenous-owned LNG projects in jeopardy with proposed emissions cap, leaders warn

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Indigenous leaders meet with Japan’s ambassador to Canada Kanji Yamanouchi. Photo courtesy Energy for a Secure Future

From the Canadian Energy Centre

By Cody Ciona

‘It’s like we’re finally at the table and we’re having to fight to keep our seat at the table’

A proposed cap on oil and gas emissions will threaten opportunities for Indigenous communities to bring cleaner alternatives to coal to international markets, Indigenous leaders warned during a recent webinar. 

Karen Ogen, CEO of the First Nations LNG Alliance, fears Indigenous-led projects like Cedar LNG and Ksi Lisims LNG are threatened by the cap, which is essentially a cap on production. 

“If we’re going to help China and India get off of coal and help reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, it makes common sense for us to be selling our LNG to Asia and to other countries. To put a cap on, it would just stop us from doing that,” Ogen said. 

“It’s like we’re finally at the table and we’re having to fight to keep our seat at the table.” 

Indigenous communities across Canada have increasingly become involved in oil and gas projects to secure economic prosperity and reduce on-reserve poverty. 

Since 2022, more than 75 First Nations and Metis communities have entered ownership agreements across western Canada. Among those are key projects like the Coastal GasLink pipeline and the joint investment of 23 communities to obtain a 12 per cent ownership stake in several oil sands pipelines. 

The planned federal emissions cap will stall progress toward economic reconciliation, Ogen said. 

“Our leaders did not accept this and fought hard to have rights and titles recognized,” she said. 

“These rights were won through persistence and determination. It’s been a long journey, but we are finally at the table with more control over our destiny.” 

Chris Sankey, CEO of Blackfish Enterprises and a former elected councillor for the Lax Kw’alaams Band in B.C., said the proposed emissions cap could stifle Indigenous communities pushing for poverty reduction. 

“We’re working hard to try to get our people out of poverty. All [the emissions cap is] doing is pushing them further into debt and further into poverty,” he said. 

“When oil and gas is doing well, our people do well.” 

Together, the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion, LNG Canada project and Coastal GasLink pipeline have spent more than $10 billion in contracts with Indigenous and local businesses

Indigenous employment in the oil and gas industry has also increased by more than 20 per cent since 2014. 

For Stephen Buffalo, CEO of the Indian Resource Council, an emissions cap feels like a step in the wrong direction after years of action to become true economic partners is finally making headway. 

“Being a participant in the natural resource sector and making true partnerships, has been beneficial for First Nations,” he said. 

“So, when you see a government trying to attack this industry in that regard, it is very disheartening.” 

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Alberta

Taxpayers Federation hoping for personal tax relief in Alberta budget

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From the Canadian Taxpayers Federation

Albertans need income tax relief now

Author: Kris Sims 

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is calling on the Alberta government to stick to its promise of cutting its income tax in tomorrow’s provincial budget.

“Cutting the provincial income tax was a huge campaign promise from the UCP and it needs to happen right away,” said Kris Sims, CTF Alberta Director. “Finance Minister Nate Horner should announce this income tax cut in the budget tomorrow.”

The provincial budget will be presented Feb. 29.

During the 2023, election the UCP promised to create a lower income tax bracket for the first $59,000 of earnings, charging eight per cent instead of the current 10 per cent.

The UCP said that move would save Albertans earning $60,000 or more about $760 per year.

The Alberta government currently charges workers who make under $142,292 per year a 10 per cent income tax rate.

By comparison, British Columbia charges an income tax of five per cent on the first $45,654 of earnings and seven per cent up to $91,310.

In B.C., a worker earning $100,000 pays about $5,857 in provincial income tax.

In Alberta that same worker pays about $7,424 in provincial income tax.

“Taxpayers need to see a balanced budget, spending restraint and our promised lower income taxes in this budget,” said Sims.

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