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The Votes Tell the Story

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The Votes Tell the Story

On this amazing day for hockey fans, especially in Alberta, it’s a personal joy to realize two men I have known and appreciated for decades are now members of the Hockey Hall of Fame.

As much satisfaction as supporters are sure to feel for Jarome Iginla and his selection in his first year of HHOF eligibility, the same level of pleasure is sure to be shared by Kevin Lowe, who has waited many years for his combination of steadiness, competitive fire and team intelligence to be recognized at the highest possible of the game both he and Iginla have loved since childhood.

It’s a bonus for Edmontonians, and for all in sports, that Ken Holland was welcomed as a builder. He deserves the accolade as much as anyone can and the fact that he achieved most of his front-office success before he was hired as the Edmonton Oilers general manager before the start of last season. It’s still a shock to recall how many dedicated Oilers lovers objected in words and in print to the thought that he would be hired after being escorted away from Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.

You want another shock? Iginla came much closer to being potentially a career Oiler than media wretches were allowed to know.

He was drafted 11th overall in 1995. Steve Kelly became a mistaken sixth-overall choice in the same year. He was picked as Number 6 — one spot ahead of Shane Doan despite loud demands for the Oilers to go for Doan with their first pick of the graduate draft.

Barry Fraser, Edmonton’s head scout, told me before the draft that Iginla “is going to be a good pick for somebody.” He also Iginla as a potential first-rounder, a clear sign that he would become part of the mid-90s Oilers if rival selections made it possible.

Doan, like Lowe, was a productive but not brilliant offensive player. If his character and leadership are taken into account in a future year, he will also become a more promising candidate for Hall of Fame membership.

Dealing with Lowe during the Oilers’ Stanley Cup run was always a pleasure. When he sensed a criticism, and if he missed some of the credit headed his team’s way, he was likely to be edgy. It was impossible to do a pre-game Sportstalk segment and still find time for a moment to talk. Then I learned that he sharpened his skates very early on game night. That meant he would be available for brief conversation.

Somehow, it evolved that we would speak before the first home game of every series. I still remember the intensity of his preparation.

Iginla’s brilliant junior record and his lifelong connection with Edmonton and St. Albert made it obvious that we would meet during the 1995 junior draft countdown. He and several other top prospects were made available for live appearances for about week.

Iginla was not a logical choice to talk: he did not blow his own horn. Others seemed more interested than he was at the thought of speaking for 30 minutes on radio. After about three days, someone asked about giving Jarome some time on the microphone. Said I: “It doesn’t look like he’s interested” but his supporter suggested that I approach the quiet young man. He agreed to join the chow and was a sensational guest, showing a confident streak that was well-balanced with modesty.

One question was a natural for presentation to any young athlete: “Do you think the NHL will be a good fit for you?” His answer, as I learned gradually over time, was typical for him.

“I know I’ve got a lot to learn,” he said. “I have to improve my skating quite a bit. If I do that, I can probably do all right.”

As they say: Now we know the rest of the story.

Gretzky Was Magic, Now He Sees It

 

 

 

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Alberta

Edmonton council to ask province to support new centre to fight downtown crime

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By Fakiha Baig in Edmonton

City council has voted unanimously to ask the government of Alberta to support the creation of a hub in Edmonton’s Chinatown where social workers, firefighters and peace officers could work together to reduce crime.

City administration submitted a report to council Monday that describes the proposed Healthy Streets Operations Centre.

David Jones, who is with the city and presented the report, told councillors it would not be a traditional police station.

“The people who will see the benefits of this include Chinatown residents and businesses, but also people who are on the streets who are vulnerable and being preyed on by some of the criminal element,” Jones said.

The creation of the centre is one of several actions the city has promised to address a spike in violent crime downtown, in nearby Chinatown and on the transit system.

Edmonton police officers have already increased their presence in problem areas.

In May, Justice Minister Tyler Shandro used his ministerial power to demand a report from the city on what is being done to get crime under control.

Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said during Monday’s council meeting that the city has delivered with its plan for the centre and now it is time for the province to step up.

“Edmonton gets the lowest per-capita funding to support ending homelessness compared to seven other cities (in Alberta). I think it’s really important that we ask the people whose inaction has caused harm to the community to be stepping up,” Sohi said.

“Most of the violence in Chinatown is related to houselessness … and addictions causing a lot of harm to the community and to individuals. We’re asking city taxpayers to pick up the pieces or pay for the consequences of lack of investment in health and lack of investment in housing.”

Sohi added he gets the sense the province wants to help.

The provincial government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The report says the centre will operate seven days a week, 21 hours a day, and could cost up to $18.1 million over the next four years.

The city and Edmonton Police Service could partially support the centre and Jones said there have also been offers from different businesses in Chinatown to provide a building for the hub at no cost.

But council voted in favour of asking the provincial government to determine how it can provide mental health, housing and shelter support.

Sohi said he plans to engage with the province and will report back to council on Aug. 15.

Jones said to get the centre up and running by next summer, the city aims to hire four peace officer sergeants, 16 community peace officers, two community safety liaisons and three firefighters or fire prevention officers.

The report said community members asked for increased security in problem areas and that building a centre in “hot spots” can effectively reduce crime. Research cited in the report has also shown it wont displace violence to other areas.

“Studies have consistently found no noticeable displacement and, in some cases, a diffusion effect, meaning that hot-spot policing reduces crime in the areas adjacent to the hot spots as well.”

Dr. Temitope Oriola, a criminology professor at the University of Alberta, said the hub model has been around for at least a decade in Canada and the centre is a good start.

“The real test is to ensure it is not too heavily tilted toward and reliant on policing,” he said in a email.

“The approach needs to have law enforcement as one of several critical components with people, community revitalization and customized social service at the epicentre.”

Oriola added the centre would be most effective in reducing crime if it also goes hand-in-hand with other initiatives in the city that address addictions issues and homelessness.

“Employment created should also focus on those most directly connected to Chinatown,” he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on July 4, 2022.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

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Alberta

Alberta expands its support for Ukrainians fleeing war and settling in the province

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Edmonton – The Alberta government is expanding its support for Ukrainians coming to the province from the war-ravaged country.

Premier Jason Kenney said there’s a special, deep connection between Alberta and Ukraine, with more than 369,000 Albertans who have Ukrainian roots.

“That is why we are proud to have opened our doors of refuge to Ukrainians fleeing the violence of that conflict,” he said Monday at a news conference at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village just east of Edmonton.

Kenney said more than 3,800 Ukrainians — many of whom are women and children because men are required to stay behind to help defend their nation — have already arrived in Alberta and thousands more are expected as the conflict continues into its fourth month.

“Starting July 25, Ukrainian evacuees arriving in Alberta will be eligible for new forms of aid,” he said.

Those additional measures, he said, include temporary financial assistance for basic living expenses — such as food, clothing and rent — for up to six months. Anyone with children under the age of 12 would also be able to apply for child-care support for six months, said Kenney.

“This expanded support will be key for people whose lives have been thrown into chaos by the invasion,” he said. “We can’t take away their fears for those who have been left behind, but we can at least dispel the uncertainties that come with trying to start over and make ends meet in a new country.”

Orysia Boychuk, president of the Alberta chapter of the Canadian Ukrainian Congress, said the income support and child-care subsidy are appreciated.

“We are confident this will definitely help support and contribute to the Ukrainian nationals’ successful integration in Canadian society,” she said at the news conference.

“We also thank the Alberta government for its unwavering support for the past four months as Russia continues to wage war on Ukraine.”

Kenney said the additional supports are expected to cost between $15 million and $38 million, depending on how many Ukrainians arrive in the coming months.

The province has already provided money for settlement and language services, humanitarian aid and defensive equipment.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 4, 2022.

— By Colette Derworiz in Calgary

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