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Monthly Archives: February 2019

More parking could be on the way for Terwillegar Park

Written on February 24, 2019 at 16:04, by

The parking spaces at a southwest Edmonton park could double if city council approval is given.

A report on the Terwillegar Park parking lot expansion will be in front of city council on Tuesday. The Urban Planning Committee is recommending approval.

It seeks to expand the number of parking spaces from 122 stalls to 225 stalls.

READ MORE: City wants feedback on plan to expand Terwillegar Park parking lot

The parking lot was expanded in 2011 from 80 stalls to 122 stalls but that did not seem to meet demand. The report states that park users were illegally using Rabbit Hill Road for overflow parking.

“By 2015, this first phase of expansion was proving insufficient to meet user demand, and the city was receiving complaints that the parking lot was no longer adequate,” the report reads.

The Terwillegar Park parking lot extension concept.

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The project will expand parking capacity west of the existing lot and falls within the Terwillegar Park Concept Plan study. The 27-point plan calls for several upgrades, including more paved parking and overflow parking, pedestrian bridges like the foot bridge currently being built, a program building and washroom, a designated on-leash area, a picnic area, a natural playground, a dock for canoe and kayak launches, and a 2.0 hectare paddling lake.

The report states the idea of the parking lot expansion generated some opposition from those who think the city should be encouraging park users bus, walk or bike to the park rather than drive. There was also concern about the park becoming busier as well as less of a natural space as a result of increased parking.

READ MORE: $90 million going towards improving Capital Region’s river valley

But one city councillor said the benefits outweigh those concerns.

“Generally there is significant support for increased parking. The park is so big that the loss of green space is insignificant,” said Ward 9 Councillor Bryan Anderson.

The total cost of the project is expected to be $488,000.

-with files from Karen Bartko

Giant Panda is no longer an endangered species

Written on February 24, 2019 at 16:04, by

BEIJING – A leading international group has taken the giant panda off its endangered list thanks to decades of conservation efforts, but China’s government discounted the move on Monday, saying it did not view the status of the country’s beloved symbol as any less serious.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature said in a report released Sunday that the panda is now classified as a “vulnerable” instead of “endangered” species, reflecting its growing numbers in the wild in southern China. It said the wild panda population jumped to 1,864 in 2014 from 1,596 in 2004, the result of work by Chinese agencies to enforce poaching bans and expand forest reserves.

WATCH: US National Zoo hosts sweet birthday bash for Bei Bei 

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The report warned, however, that although better forest protection has helped increase panda numbers, climate change is predicted to eliminate more than 35 per cent of its natural bamboo habitat in the next 80 years, potentially leading to another decline.

In a statement to The Associated Press, China’s State Forestry Administration said Monday that it disputed the classification change because pandas’ natural habitats have been splintered by natural and human causes. The animals live in small, isolated groups of as few as 10 pandas that struggle to reproduce and face the risk of disappearing altogether, the agency said.

“If we downgrade their conservation status, or neglect or relax our conservation work, the populations and habitats of giant pandas could still suffer irreversible loss and our achievements would be quickly lost,” the forestry administration said. “Therefore, we’re not being alarmist by continuing to emphasize the panda species’ endangered status.”

READ MORE: African elephant populations down 30 per cent according to new census

Still, animal groups hailed the recovery of the bamboo-gobbling, black-and-white bear that has long been a symbol of China and the global conservation movement.

The panda population reached an estimated low of less than 1,000 in the 1980s due to poaching and deforestation until Beijing threw its full weight behind preserving the animal, which has been sent to zoos around the world as a gesture of Chinese diplomatic goodwill.

READ MORE: Tiny panda cubs’ birth a huge PR production, Toronto Zoo documents show

The Chinese government and the World Wildlife Fund first established the Wolong National Nature Reserve in Sichuan province in 1980. Wild panda numbers have slowly rebounded as China cracked down on the skin trade and gradually expanded its protected forest areas to now cover 1.4 million hectares (5,400 square miles).

International groups and the Chinese government have worked to save wild pandas and breed them at enormous cost, attracting criticism that the money could be better spent saving other animals facing extinction. The IUCN drew attention on Sunday to the 70 per cent decline in the eastern gorilla population over the past 20 years.

But the WWF, whose logo has been a panda since 1961, celebrated the panda’s re-classification, saying it proved that aggressive investment does pay off “when science, political will and engagement of local communities come together.”

WATCH: Toronto Zoo panda cubs turn 7 months old

—;

AP researcher Henry Hou contributed to this report.

Labour Day barbecue recognizes contributions of unions and workers to society

Written on February 24, 2019 at 16:04, by

The Saskatoon and District Labour Council hosted its annual Labour Day barbecue in Victoria Park on Monday and while more than a thousand people came out to enjoy the free food, for the Labour Council it’s a day to remember what unions have done to shape our workforce.

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    “The history of Labour Day goes back to some long fought labour battles for things like unemployment insurance back in the post-war era when people came back from the war and didn’t have jobs and had to march in Ottawa,” explained Kelly Harrington, president of the Saskatoon and District Labour Council.

    READ MORE: How the CPP changes will affect your future

    Employment insurance, maternity leave and paid vacation are examples of improvements to labour regulations, but this year Harrington is celebrating the first major expansion of the Canadian pension plan benefits.

    “That’s something we’ve been fighting for for over eight years and it’s been a lead campaign of the Canadian Labour Congress,” Harrington said.

    But in her eyes there’s still more that needs to be done, including creating more full-time jobs and ending precarious online work.

    “A lot of young people coming into the workforce are forced to grapple together two or three part-time jobs to pay one rent.”

    “Now employers are choosing to use digital and online services …they don’t have a union to fight for them. They’re paid either by a quota or by a job and there’s no security,” Harrington said.

    READ MORE: Oshawa, Ont., ground zero for latest talks between Detroit Three, unions

    A few members from the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Saskatchewan road motorcycles from Regina to the Saskatoon barbecue to promote respect for worker rights.

    “With the provincial government we have right now it’s much more geared toward big business and privatization than the actual workers who are working in this province,” said Ride for Respect organizer Omar Murray.

    READ MORE: Over 150 pink slips handed out to SLGA workers due to Sask. Party liquor privatization

    In Saskatoon, the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) has been without a collective agreement for almost four years and local president Jim Yakubowski is determined for change.

    “Our members do not deserve that treatment and we’re going to be taking steps to get a collective agreement for our members,” said Yakubowski.

    ATU will be holding a rally next Saturday at City Hall and the public is welcome to join.

Kal Tire Place fouled by sewer backup

Written on February 24, 2019 at 16:04, by

VERNON, B.C. – Brown water and debris filled Kal Tire Place Saturday morning following a sewer pump station failure.

Restoration crews continued work on cleaning up the smelly mess through the Labour Day long weekend.

“We walked in the room and it was definitely a smell that I don’t want to remember,” said Vernon Vipers assistant coach Kevin Kraus.

The Vipers first exhibition game of the B.C. Hockey League season was canceled Saturday night due to the sewer backup.

As about two inches of brown water covered floors, most of the equipment in the way of the foul mess was moved to higher ground.

The city of Vernon is blaming the flooding on a pump station failure following a water main break at 35A Street and 40 Avenue.

“Kal Tire Place, because the bowl of the arena is cut down into the ground and it is below ground level, we were affected by that because all of our drains are below ground level,” said Doug Ross, Vernon’s director of recreation services.

Ross said damage to the city owned arena is significant.

“It’s throughout the whole lower concourse,” he said. “Anywhere where there was a drain there was water and sewer coming up.”

Ross said, “all of our flooring down here has been affected. Luckily there was very little drywall mostly cinderblock and concrete, so that is lucky for us.”

Restoration crews are working to have the arena ready for use again Saturday, September 10.

Other teams affected by the flood have had to move to other facilities until Kal Tire Place is clean.

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First-year students at University of Regina transitioning to life on residence

Written on February 24, 2019 at 15:40, by

Many students at the University of Regina (U of R) spent the long weekend unpacking as they prepare for the beginning of a new semester.

For Greenwater Lake, Sask., resident Sydney Stadnek, it’s the first time she will be living away from home. She, like many other first-years, will be moving into residence at Paskwaw Towers at the U of R.

“It’d be nice to get everything organized,” Stadnek said.

“I’m kind of nervous.”

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    Stadnek’s story is a common theme during this time of year. In fact, her new mate hails from Sydney, Australia. It’s the first time Olivia Brunton has ever even been to Canada.

    She said the transition has been tough.

    “It’s been quite hard. I have had quite a few homesick moments,” Brunton explained.

    She said moving proved difficult because of transportation and weight restrictions.

    “Packing was quite interesting because you can’t bring a lot of stuff with you… I was making do with what I have,” she said.

    READ MORE: University of Regina U-Pass encourages students to take the bus

    U of R president Vianne Timmons said it was a much different scene compared to last year.

    “Last year we had lots of snags. We had challenges with the alarms and the elevators, not this year,” Timmons explained.

    “We had had no issues this year whatsoever.”

    It’s a plus students no doubt appreciate, making for a smoother transition for some students so they can focus on other things, like meeting new people and experiencing many new firsts.

    “I’m excited to start. I’m a bit nervous for classes, but pretty excited to live in a new city and stuff,” Stadnek cheerily said.

    For others like Brunton from down under, she’s preparing herself for a winter she said is the opposite of anything she’s ever experienced before.

    “I found out that it can get down to minus forty with the wind chill so this will be a very interesting experience,” she laughed.

    The first day of classes is Tuesday, Sept 6.

    Follow @ChristaDao