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Obituary photo of Carolyn Weymouth

Obituary | Carolyn Weymouth

With great sadness we announce the passing of Carolyn Weymouth on Feb. 20, 2024, in Pincher Creek, Alta., after a brief but courageous battle with cancer.  She was 82 years of age.

Carolyn was born in London, Ont., on May 10, 1941, to parents Cliff and Hilda Handley.

Carolyn was an active individual who enjoyed the outdoors, sewing, knitting, a glass of wine, reading, and loved her cats and dogs. She was also very involved with horses, including training them as well as pleasure riding. She was a member of the Alberta Trail Riders Association and rode many years in the Ride Against Cancer in the early summer each year. Carolyn was even known to get out on the golf course in her younger days.

After graduating high school, Carolyn went to the University of Sarnia Nursing Academy from 1959 to 1962. She then moved to Winnipeg and worked at the Misericordia Hospital from 1962 to 1965. She then transferred to Edmonton Misericordia and worked there from 1965 until 1972.

Later she moved to the Onoway area and then to Alberta Beach. Carolyn and Ed then moved to Coleman, then to West Bank, B.C., and back to Coleman. Carolyn moved into Whispering Winds Village in Pincher Creek for her last few years.

She will be remembered with love and respect for a life well lived.

Carolyn leaves behind two sons: Jon (Kim) Thorsteinsson of Winnipeg, Man., and David (Dianna) Potter of Onoway, Alta.; one brother: Jim (Helen) Handley of London, Ont.; one stepdaughter: Sharon Weymouth of Edmonton, Alta.; two stepsons: Edwin (Barbara) Weymouth of Edmonton, Alta., and Don (Pat) Weymouth of Gunn, Alta.

Carolyn was predeceased by her parents, Cliff and Hilda Handley.

A celebration of life will be held for Carolyn on June 28, 2024, at 10:30 a.m. at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses, 14929 20th Ave., Frank, Alta.

Memorial donations will be gratefully accepted by Canadian Cancer Society.

Arrangements entrusted to Snodgrass Funeral Homes.

 

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Obituary Photo of Catherine Cyr of Pincher Creek

Obituary | Catherine Cyr

Catherine (Betty) Elizabeth Cyr was born on Sept. 16, 1942, in High River, Alta., and passed away peacefully at home in Pincher Creek, Alta., on May 8, 2024, at the age of 81.

She was predeceased by her parents, Joan and Urban Bricker.

Betty will be lovingly remembered by her husband of 62 years, Rodney (Rod); children Bernice (Brett Wuth) Cyr, Rhonda (Bruce Kachowski) Casson, and Russell (Jo-Anne) Cyr. She was blessed with eight grandchildren: Charmayne (Riley) Barrett, Dominic (Kendall Clarke) Cyr, Stephanie Anderson, Thomas Anderson, Brandon (Nicole Reser) Cyr, Shania (Lane Crawford) Casson, Greggory Anderson, and Samantha (Dillon Pond) Cyr; as well as two great-grandchildren, Jake Reser and Everly Cyr.

Betty is also survived by sister Karen (Allan) Hurl, brother Barry (Patricia) Bricker, and numerous nieces and nephews.

Betty married Rod in High River on Oct. 14, 1961, and moved to the Cyr Dairy Farm, south of Pincher Creek, where they resided until 2010 when they moved to their current home.

Betty was very involved in her community, belonging to various groups including CWL, the Canadian Sheep and Wool Commission, Lethbridge Exhibition Board, and the Farm Women’s Network. She also served as a member of the University of Lethbridge senate representing Pincher Creek and area.

Over the years, Betty travelled southern Alberta in the summers judging various baking, canning and sewing events at community fairs.

Betty had a passion for gardening, herbology, cooking and sewing. She has shared her wealth of knowledge over the years with her family and friends.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that people plant something special in their own gardens in memory of Betty.

A funeral mass for Betty will be held at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, May 15, 2024, at St. Michael’s Church in Pincher Creek.

Arrangements entrusted to Eden’s Funeral Home.

The family of the late Mrs. Catherine “Betty” Cyr would like to express their most sincere gratitude to all those who sent cards, flowers and condolences.

Your support made all the difference during a very difficult time.

Rod Cyr & Family

 

Table setting of wedding venue — the Cowley Lions Campground Stockade near Pincher Creek in southwestern Alberta.

 

 

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Obituary photo of Eleanor Mackenzie as a young woman.

Obituary | Eleanor Mackenzie

It is with heartfelt sadness that we announce the peaceful passing of Eleanor Frances Mackenzie (née Fox) at St. Michael’s Health Centre in Lethbridge on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024.

Eleanor was born in Pincher Creek, the eldest daughter of Del and Katie Fox. She grew up living in the apartment above the Fox Theatre, which her parents built and operated. Commencing at age five, Eleanor discovered her love for both piano and singing. At eight years, she entered a singing competition on CJOC radio, Lethbridge.

Throughout her teenage years, when she wasn’t working at the theatre or enjoying summer holidays at the Rosen Lake family cabin, she continued with her passion for music through the United Church, playing the organ and singing in the choir.

At age 16, Eleanor enjoyed the opportunity to study voice and drama at the Banff School of Fine Arts. Years later, she became a member of the Burnaby, B.C., Sweet Adelines and participated in a Hawaii singing competition.

After attending Mount Royal College in Calgary, Eleanor returned to Pincher Creek to work at the BA gas plant. She met Ian Mackenzie in Pincher Creek and they were married there in 1965.

The Mackenzies made many friends living at a number of locations, eventually settling in Duncan, B.C. In 2011, Ian sadly passed away and Eleanor returned to her Pincher Creek roots one year later.

Eleanor will be sorely missed by family and friends. Please join us as we celebrate her unique life at Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village, 1037 Bev McLachlin Dr., Pincher Creek, Alta., on Saturday, June 1, 2024, from 12 noon to 3 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to St. Michael’s Health Centre, c/o Covenant Foundation, 1-780-342-8126 or online at www.covenantfoundation.ca.

To send a condolence, please visit Cornerstone Funeral Home.

 

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Semi with orange cab drives on Highway 3 near Crowsnest Pass

Highway 3 projects loom large in provincial highway planning

With or without federal support, improvements to a major southern Alberta highway continue because of its critical economic importance as an east-west corridor, the province says.

Eight Highway 3 projects are on the books after being separated into “bite-sized chunks” to keep costs in check, said Devin Dreeshen, minister of transportation and economic corridors.

Dreeshen pointed to Highway 3’s importance in connecting the province to British Columbia and Saskatchewan through an area of irrigation, agriculture and oil and gas.

“It’s such a breadbasket of Alberta,” said the MLA for Innisfail-Sylvan Lake.

The National Trade Corridors Fund has so far failed to put money toward a list from the Alberta government of projects in southern, central and northern Alberta. All proposal calls are closed.

The province’s submissions would help pay for upgrades affecting Edmonton, Devon, Calgary, Balzac, Grande Prairie, Fort McMurray, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Crowsnest Pass, Piikani First Nation, Pincher Creek, Fort Macleod, Taber and dozens of other communities.

 

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One of the unsuccessful projects is part of more than 210 kilometres of twinning-related work on Highway 3 and Highway 3X that’s at some stage of consultation, planning or design.

Work will start soon on the unsupported 46-kilometre section of Highway 3 between Taber and a hamlet called Burdett, west of Medicine Hat. A design-build contract won by Ledcor will see ground turn this spring and support about 750 jobs, a ministry spokesperson told the Local Journalism Initiative.

Also beginning this spring is detailed design engineering for the Highway 3X/Coleman bypass. Planning studies are finished for 14 km of work.

Work on 36 km of twinning west of Seven Persons to Medicine Hat starts this year, now that planning studies are complete and a detailed design engineering contract has been awarded.

In the fall, detailed design engineering is expected to start on 21 km of the highway from Blairmore to east of its intersection with Highway 22. More detailed design engineering should follow in the winter of 2024 for 20 km of work from east of Highway 22 to Highway 6 at Pincher Creek. Planning studies are finished for both.

Less far along are three other projects.

A functional planning study is complete for east of Burdett to west of Seven Persons, a section of 30 km. But the province needs to continue consulting with the Town of Bow Island and other stakeholders to finalize alignment, said the ministry.

For Pincher Creek to west of Fort Macleod, a functional planning study with Piikani Nation is underway for 38 km of Highway 3 work.

 

Aerial view of the Cowley Lions Campground on the Castle River in southwestern Alberta

 

RCMP logo over red and blue flashing lights on heading for Pincher Creek RCMP news

Three charged after weapons call in Pincher Creek

Two Pincher Creek men face criminal charges after RCMP responded to a complaint of a dispute outside a residence in the community on April 22.

The caller reported that a firearm was involved in the altercation and that one person had nearly been run over by a motor vehicle, police said.

As a result of the arrests and followup investigation, RCMP seized numerous weapons and a quantity of methamphetamines and cocaine.

 

 

Garret Ouellette, 41, was charged with

— assault with a weapon

— possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose

— possession of prohibited weapons

— possession of a controlled substance

— failing to comply with a release order

Ouellette was on release conditions related to several other offences that are still before the courts from a Sept. 16, 2023, home invasion in Crowsnest Pass. He was remanded in custody and scheduled to appear April 25 in Alberta court of justice in Pincher Creek.

 

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Brandon Ouellette, 41, was charged with

— assault with a weapon

— resisting arrest

— possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose

— possession of prohibited weapons

— possession of a controlled substance

He was released after a bail hearing and is to appear June 6 in Alberta court of justice in Pincher Creek.

 

 

A 67-year-old Pincher Creek woman, who was not named by RCMP, was charged with possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking in relation to the April 22 incident. She is to appear in Alberta court of justice in Pincher Creek on May 23.

 

Alberta Crime Stoppers welcomes anonymous tips at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), online at p3tips.com or through the P3 Tips mobile app. Your anonymity is protected and you may be eligible for a cash reward if your tip leads to an arrest.

Please contact the local RCMP if you have information about this incident or any other illegal activity. If you see a crime in progress or an emergency, call 911.

 

Pig roast at wedding venue — the Cowley Lions Campground Stockade near Pincher Creek in southwestern Alberta.

 

Obituary | Jessie Burns

Jessie Jamieson Burns of Pincher Creek, beloved wife of Gary Burns, passed away on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, after a lengthy illness.

At Jessie’s request, no formal funeral service will be held.

Flowers and cards are graciously declined.

The family requests its privacy at this time.

To send a condolence, please visit Salmon & Sons Funeral Home

 

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Obituary photo of Mina Ensign

Obituary | Mina Ensign

Mina “Minnie” Ensign (née McGarva) of Pincher Creek, Alta., passed away peacefully on April 3, 2024, at Good Samaritan Prairie Ridge in Raymond, Alta., at the age of 98.

Mina was born on June 25, 1925, in Wigtownshire, Scotland, to Robert and Mina McGarva.

Mina was predeceased by her husband, Gerald Ensign, and son Gary Ensign.

She will be dearly missed and survived by her sons Leroy (Carole) Goodreau, Bob (Michelle) Ensign and Barrie (Lisa) Ensign, as well as numerous grandchildren.

At Mina’s request, no service will be held.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Alberta Cancer Foundation, 710-10123 99th St. N.W., Edmonton, AB, T5J 3H1.

Condolences may be sent through Eden’s Funeral Home.

 

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Obituary photo of Harold George "Bud" Elliott.

Obituary | Harold Elliott

It is with heartfelt sadness the family of Harold (Bud) Elliott announce his sudden passing at his home on March 18, 2024. His 88 years were filled with love and laughter.

Bud was born on Dec. 20, 1935, in Innisfail, Alta., and lived in Olds, Alta., until he was 13, when his father passed away. The family then moved to Pincher Creek, which he called home the rest of his life.

At 15, Bud left home to start work and help provide for his family. In 1957 he married Louise Green, and within a few years they were blessed with  four children — Wayne, Arlene, Bruce and Joanne.

Always employed, Bud was a hard worker, working long hours to provide for his family. Bud enjoyed and excelled in driving truck and road maintenance equipment. He took pride in the quality of his work and his employment lasted for 63 years until he retired in 2013 from Volker Stevin.

Bud taught himself many skills and trades, including mechanics, carpentry, electrical work and plumbing, among many others. He could take on any repair and figure out how to get it done. This included extensions and many renovations to the family home.

Bud had many hobbies and pastimes over the years. He loved bowling and was on the 1967 men’s Canadian five-pin bowling championship team. He also enjoyed woodworking projects, fixing cars, racing his stock car (Ole 71), farming, treasure seeking with his metal detector, gold panning and playing his harmonica. Bud also enjoyed watching curling, Flames games and Toronto Blue Jays baseball. He also enjoyed gardening and growing roses, and his flower bed got his time and attention.

Family time was important, and often included picnics, fishing, and hunting trips, along with many family dinners. He regularly attended sporting events of his kids and grandkids. He was a devoted husband, father and grandfather. Without having much time with his own dad, he had no guide to follow and wanted to be the best dad possible. We couldn’t have asked for anything better. He set the bar high for others.

Bud enjoyed being with others; striking up a conversation with a stranger was easy for him. He was regarded as being a friend by anyone who knew him. He liked to laugh and to make others laugh, always cheering up those around him. At a young age his father called him his “Little Buddy,” which suited him perfectly. Soon he was everyone’s “Bud,” and will be missed by all.

Bud is survived by his wife of 66 years, Louise Elliott; children Arlene (Chris), Bruce, Joanne (Doug); daughter-in-law Janice Elliott; grandchildren Miranda (Mike), Randy (Paul), Mike (Dawna), Amy (Benj), Lonny (Brittany), Shae, Kirsten, Felicia (Mike), Acacia (Ryan), Kate (Will); along with 20 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.

He is also survived by his siblings Ken Elliott (Carolee), Carol Barclay, Doug (Eydie) Elliott, Karen (Ken) Tompkins, and by sister-in-law Donna Elliott as well as many nieces, nephews and in-laws.

Bud was predeceased by his son Wayne Elliott and son-in-law Garry Ouellette; parents William George Elliott, Elsie and Paul Paulson; brothers Roy, Theodore and Bill Elliott; sister Doris Bolton and her husband, Cliff; and sister-in-law Evie Chick.

A gathering was held to remember our Bud and reminisce with stories and chuckles on March 27, 2024, at Snodgrass Funeral Home Pincher Creek Chapel.

 

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Obituary photo of Tom Gilchrist.

Obituary | Thomas Gilchrist

Mr. Thomas “Tom” Parker Gilchrist, P.Eng., P.Ag., of Lethbridge, beloved husband of Mrs. Lois Gilchrist, passed away peacefully on April 6, 2024, at the age of 89.

Tom was a husband, father, grandfather, uncle and brother. He was a manager of water, grass and cattle — a steward of the land. He will be remembered as a lifelong rancher, cattleman, horseman and pilot, a community builder and industry leader, full of determination, gentle kindness and easy laughter. He will be greatly missed.

Tom is survived by his wife, Lois Gilchrist; his brother, Glen (Peggy) Gilchrist; four children, Graham Gilchrist of Leduc, Janet (Garry) Gatrell of Calgary, Keith (Karen) Gilchrist of St. Albert, Neal Gilchrist of Calgary; grandchildren Heather (Ryan), Ellie, Chay, Mitchell, Quinn, and Orion; sister-in-law Sharon Smith; along with his nieces and nephews and their families.

He was predeceased by his parents, Joseph and Muriel Gilchrist; his sister, Joanne Taylor; brothers-in-law Derrill Smith and Dan Taylor; sister-in-law Ann Gilchrist; and nephew Rick Smith.

A celebration of Tom’s life will be held at a later date. Details will be available at www.mbfunerals.com/obituary/ThomasTom-Gilchrist once confirmed.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Stockmen’s Memorial Foundation (www.stockmen.ca; 101 RancheHouse Rd., Cochrane, AB, T4C 2K8) or a charity of your choice.

Visit www.mbfunerals.com to send a condolence.

Martin Brothers Funeral Services enstrusted with arrangements

800-382-2901

 

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A hibernating bat, infected with the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome.

A bat’s battle: under siege while sleeping

Migratory bats will soon return to the region while our resident bats begin to emerge from their elusive overwintering hibernacula. It won’t be long until our evening celestial choreography will change from the rhythmic falling of snow to the fluttering of wings.

While Waterton Biosphere Reserve residents often await the first prairie crocus blossoms revealing themselves through melting snow, the bats’ return could soon become a story told in the past tense.

First observed in 2006 in a cave near Albany, N.Y., an invasive disease called white-nose syndrome has been amassing millions of dead bats in its path as it spreads across North America.

The disease is caused by a cold-loving fungus called Pseudogymnoascus destructans, or Pd for short, that grows on the face and wings of bats as they are in a slowed state of rest or hibernation. Pd often collects around the muzzle and gives the impression of a face dipped in icing sugar.

All bats in Alberta are insectivores, meaning they eat only insects, and those that don’t migrate south survive our insect-less winter months by entering a physiological state of extreme energy efficiency called torpor or, in extended periods, hibernation.

 

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During torpor, a bat’s heart rate, metabolic rate and respiratory rate are slowed, allowing the bat to persist on fat reserves while its food source is unavailable. But this is when white-nose syndrome strikes.

The fungus that causes WNS is irritating to bats’ skin and initiates unplanned wake-ups.

Waking up from torpor early, or multiple times, burns through energy reserves the bats rely on to get them through to spring and can lead to death by starvation and dehydration or exposure.

The fungus that causes WNS has been detected near Waterton Biosphere Reserve, and is anticipated to soon breach our border. We expect severe population declines in the coming years, particularly amongst the myotis bats like the little brown myotis.

There is currently no cure or prevention measure for WNS. However, some experimental treatments such as antifungal probiotics are showing promise, and potential dispersed roost and hibernacula sites may lead to lower rates of spread in Western Canada.

 

 

Map showing locations white-nose syndrome has been detected in bats.

White-nose syndrome (Pd-positive) occurrence map, March 27. WNS has been moving westward since its first detection in 2006. Data available at www.whitenosesyndrome.org.

 

The impact of an ally

Waterton Biosphere Reserve residents can support local bat populations heading into and through this challenge with continued maintenance of places bats need to roost, hibernate and forage.

Resident bats give birth to one pup a year, and moms invest a great deal of time into raising and caring for their young. These habitat stewardship initiatives will help with bat population resilience following initial declines.

Reporting dead or daytime flying bats with signs of WNS this spring will also help track potential spread of the disease. WNS does not affect people or other animals, and, while bat-associated diseases are rare in Alberta, there are important safety steps and considerations you can take to ensure both you and the bat stay safe if your paths cross.

First and foremost, never touch a bat with your bare hands.

 

 

If you are confident you have found a dead bat, rather than a bat in a hibernation-like state of torpor, this is an important time of year to report your discovery to your nearest Fish and Wildlife Office, which can be located by calling the Alberta Environment and Protected Areas information centre at 1-877-944-0313.

These experts will inform you on how best to safely handle and submit the bat carcass for disease monitoring and testing.

Get in touch with us at bats@watertonbiosphere.com or the Alberta Community Bat Program at info@albertabats.ca for advice or assistance regarding dead or living bats.

For anyone visiting a cave in Alberta or North America, learn more about how to reduce the spread of WNS here. In Alberta, it is illegal to enter a cave where bats are hibernating between Sept. 1 and April 30.

The bats’ battle is really a shared one, as we know they contribute to pest control for crops, livestock and humans. Join our efforts to help build resilience in bats by reporting dead or daytime flying bats spotted over the next couple of months.

 

 

Alberta Community Crime Prevention Association conference notice

Crime prevention association gives preview of conference

The Alberta Community Crime Prevention Association offered a preview Friday to its annual conference, “Pathways to Safe Communities Wellness and Resilience in times of change” that is happening in Calgary from May 6 to 8.

ACCPA hosted a virtual conference with speakers sharing varying topics on various issues relevant to crime prevention within rural and urban areas in Alberta.

“It’s really important that we showcase and let everyone know in the province that there is good things happening. And many of these things can be replicated or tailored to many other communities in the province, whether you’re rural or Indigenous, or smaller urban,” said ACCPA chair and president Jean Bota.

City of Calgary Community Standards Chief Ryan Plecksaitis was the first speaker and spoke on programs such as the Coordinated Safety Response Team and the impact programs are having on addressing challenged areas.

“Until now, this program led to the demolition of 125 problem properties and the remediation of over 40 additional sites here in Calgary. And in my mind, those are some pretty remarkable numbers.

 

 

“And it’s not that we’re just removing a blight on a community, but we’re seeing a reduction in calls for service, we’re seeing new developments go up in their place, which has positive impacts in communities,” said Plecksaitis.

RCMP Engagement and Outreach Community Safety officer Menasha Nikhanji was the next speaker and she talked on the topic of community safety wellbeing and the work that is being done within communities and among stakeholders in addressing homelessness.

“The communities we serve also understand that the police cannot solve these complex social and health issues. For this reason, the Alberta RCMP specifically the community safety and lobbying branch, is working to build partnerships in our cities and towns to address the multiple factors leading to people becoming unsheltered, unhoused. So those individuals can receive the care and support that they need,” said Nikhanji.

She said studies show that unsheltered and unhoused individuals struggle with physical and mental health conditions along with dealing with financial hardships, substance use disorder, and being, “the most vulnerable in our communities, the individuals face many barriers usually accessing basic necessities.”

The next topic of discussion was on gun and gang violence addressed by Manager of Youth Programs for the Centre for Newcomers Noel Bahliby.

 

 

He acknowledged criminal networks prey on youth vulnerability and discussed solutions to help the new youth coming into the province not to fall into gang violence.

“As we see this wave of newcomers coming to Alberta, and that’s both from outside the country and both people moving from other provinces, keeping in mind that the children are often the ones that kind of bear the brunt of that move, and seeing how do we advocate for more sports opportunities that are specifically inviting for newcomers that address those barriers? Like transportation and language and financial barriers. And then same thing when it goes to schools that is really advocating to make sure that if there’s a school in a part of the city that has a very high concentration of newcomers,” said Bahliby.

The final speaker was Trudi Mason, Dean of the Centre for Justice and Human Services at Lethbridge College.

She shared the collaborative efforts in enhancing Indigenous policing through professional development and relationship building.

 

 

The college, said Mason, has worked with the Blood Tribe on professional development for any members that were policing on the nation.

“And so, we immediately connected to that and wanted to work with Blood Tribe and Blood Tribe community members to develop these Indigenous policing micro-credentials,” she said.

Mason said the community identified micro-credentials the program would be focused on and how these programs have mostly been opened up to the public to take.

The topics include history, culture and reconciliation, trust, respect and communication, human trafficking, intimate partner violence and the abuse of elderly persons, sexual abuse, and missing persons. And the final one is drugs and addictions in Indigenous communities.

“Originally, we developed these for serving members of a police service. But through the development process, we recognize that there are many other types of agencies in our community, and our public safety sector that would benefit from this learning.”

 

 

Question mark on wooden die

Provincial policing bill draws mixed reaction

Rural municipalities are “cautiously optimistic” that a provincial police service would enhance rural safety, a news item on their association website says.

But members of the Rural Municipalities of Alberta are disappointed they weren’t consulted in the lead-up to the government’s first reading of Bill 11 on March 13, the association for 69 counties and municipal districts says.

The RMA says loose ends remain about how a provincial police service would jibe with the RCMP in Alberta’s countryside. The group singles out a lack of clarity on issues like collaboration, the development of community safety plans, the gathering of community input and the implementation of priorities.

“If supported by proper governance and local input, enhanced police capacity is beneficial to rural communities,” says the RMA item, “but there are risks around having two different entities providing similar services within the same community.”

Less enthusiastic is Alberta Municipalities, which speaks for municipalities other than MDs and counties — big cities down to summer villages. It says that the way Bill 11 came into being is symptomatic of a non-consultative approach.

The province has “a tendency to avoid consultation and engagement,” says an ABmunis new release. “We ask that ABmunis be informed and consulted from this point onwards on this vitally important issue. Much greater collaboration between the two orders of government is needed.”

 

 

The organization supports efforts to make life safer and more secure for Albertans, the release says. But it wants to know more about things like costs, governance and any new policing agency’s mandate.

Opposition Leader Rachel Notley, meanwhile, slammed the UCP government for pursuing what she calls an expensive and unpopular provincial agency.

“Another day, another broken promise,” Notley said March 14, reacting to the successful first reading the day before of the Public Safety Statutes Amendment Act, 2024.

“Before the election, the premier promised she would not pursue a provincial police force. During the election, the premier promised she wouldn’t pursue a provincial police force. After the election, the premier promised she would not pursue a provincial police force,” said Notley, the member for Edmonton-Strathcona.

“Yet, Mr. Speaker, yesterday the premier’s government tabled legislation to — wait for it — pursue a provincial police force.”

Premier Danielle Smith maintained that the Opposition had it all wrong. The bill is about complementing existing police services and giving Alberta’s sheriffs arms-length governance and civilian oversight, she said.

 

 

“We want to govern and regulate them in exactly the same way as the Calgary Police Service, the Edmonton Police Service, the RCMP, with that kind of oversight,” said Smith, the member for Brooks-Medicine Hat. “That is going to augment safety. It’s going to augment our services.”

The premier maintained that issues addressed in the bill are ones her party ran on, and she accused the NDP of wanting to defund police.

“On this side of the chamber we want to give enhanced coverage for the police and enhanced coverage for policing in communities, and that is exactly what we’ve done,” said Smith.

Irfan Sabir, the Opposition’s deputy house leader, said municipalities, unions and Albertans don’t want a new police service. “So why has this government broken its promise and introduced an Alberta police force which no one is asking for?” he said.

The UCP is “ignoring the will of the people and introducing another pet project of the premier,” said Sabir, the member for Calgary-Bhullar-McCall.

Deputy premier Mike Ellis said the NDP is out of touch.

“I can tell you that policing comes up all the time,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about large cities, mid-size municipalities, RMA: they sit there and say that we need law enforcement. That’s why we have unprecedented support.”

 

 

Ellis, the member for Calgary-West, added: “I suggest the members opposite try to disconnect themselves in some way from the unions and actually speak to the boots on the ground. When you talk to the actual sheriffs, when you talk to the people in the community, I can tell you that they want police.”

Ellis, who is also the minister of public safety and emergency services, continued: “I, quite frankly, don’t care what the uniform is. When somebody calls 911, we’re going to make sure an officer shows up, regardless of what the members opposite say.”

According to the website Keep Alberta RCMP, transitioning to a policing model with no RCMP contracts would cost Alberta $371.5 million. Total ongoing annual costs would rise from $595 million shared by the province, municipalities and Ottawa to $759 million shared by only the province and municipalities, says the site.

Keep Alberta RCMP is a campaign run by the National Police Federation, the union for about 20,000 RCMP members. Based on earlier policing ideas floated by the government, the site estimates the total number of actual police officers and staff in Alberta would drop slightly to under 5,000.

The Court and Prisoner Service was renamed Alberta Sheriffs in the early 2000s and expanded into a new area of service called Sheriff Traffic Operations, the forerunner of today’s Sheriff Highway Patrol, press secretary Aurthur Green of the Ministry of Public Safety and Emergency Services told the Local Journalism Initiative in an emailed statement.

 

 

Alberta Sheriffs are responsible for courthouse security and prisoner transport, traffic and commercial vehicle enforcement on provincial highways, and conservation law enforcement for Fish and Wildlife Services. Sheriffs also provide personal protection for senior provincial government officials, as well as security at the legislature and other provincial facilities, Green said.

One way rural Albertans benefit is through surveillance of criminal targets provided by the Sheriff Investigative Support Unit. SISU does the work in support of the RCMP and Alberta Law Enforcement Teams, or Alert.

Also under the sheriff umbrella is the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods unit. SCAN, as it’s called, uses legal sanctions and court orders to hold owners responsible for illegal activities on their properties.

And another function of the sheriffs is the Fugitive Apprehension Sheriffs Support Team, or FASST, which helps police services find and arrest wanted criminals.

About 1,160 positions make up the Alberta Sheriffs, and about 1,000 of those are peace officers, Green said.

Alberta’s contract with the RCMP continues until 2032, “so what’s the rush?” Notley asked the premier in the legislature. “Why bring this bill forward if you have no intention of creating the police force, and why create a police force that nobody wants?”

 

 

 

Chelsae Petrovic

Petrovic ‘eager to collaborate’ with front lines through health-care appointment

Livingstone-Macleod MLA Chelsae Petrovic will use a new government role to continue advocating for front-line health-care workers, she said on social media last week.

Named by Premier Danielle Smith as the parliamentary secretary for health workforce engagement, Petrovic is “eager to collaborate with heath-care professionals across the province, engaging directly with those on the front lines to understand their needs and concerns,” she posted on Instagram.

“Together, we will work towards building a health-care system that prioritizes the well-being of both patients and providers.”

Just before her successful run last year to represent Livingstone-Macleod, the UCP candidate was accused of victim-blaming and made cross-country headlines. She suggested in a podcast that some heart patients could be held accountable for their condition because of health and lifestyle decisions.

Petrovic, who spent more than 13 years working in Livingstone-Macleod as a licensed practical nurse, admitted then that she could have chosen her words more carefully. But she did not apologize, saying comments pulled from a full-length podcast failed to capture nuance and context.

Petrovic’s appointment comes as the UCP government prepares to restructure Alberta Health Services into four specializations: primary care, acute care, continuing care, and mental health and addiction.

 

 

 

After attending public-engagement sessions on the restructuring in Livingstone-Macleod earlier this year, the former Claresholm mayor said she was continuing to take a deep dive into the local situation before returning to Edmonton for the post-Christmas resumption of the legislative assembly.

Petrovic said then that she had confidence in Health Minister Adriana LaGrange

“I was probably her biggest critic when it comes to this,” Petrovic said.

But after Petrovic shared problems and scenarios from the front lines, LaGrange won her over. “She gave me hope for the future of health care,” Petrovic said in February.

A provincial news release on Petrovic’s appointment said that consultation with health-care workers is vital.

“Alberta’s government has been clear that throughout this refocusing process and as the system changes, health-care workers must be empowered in their roles,” the release said, adding that Petrovic will help in that work.

 

 

“Albertans deserve a better, stronger health-care system,” said Premier Smith, the member for Brooks-Medicine Hat, in the release.

“Addressing issues that have been allowed to grow for decades is a major job. Chelsae will play a pivotal role in ensuring that we continue to hear from the hard-working men and women who serve on the front lines of health care. I am confident her work will help lead to a stronger system.”

LaGrange said in the release: “I look forward to collaborating with Chelsae in the weeks and months to come. With her health-care background, she will bring a very important perspective to our refocusing work.

“The voice of every health-care worker is critical to understanding what is actually happening on the front lines and what needs improving. Chelsae will help us incorporate those voices to strengthen the health system for all Albertans.”

The Opposition NDP was not enthusiastic about the government’s choice. A release quotes NDP health critic Luanne Metz calling the appointment “incredibly poor judgment” from the premier that will “cause more chaos” in health care.

Undeterred, Petrovic posted on Instagram: “Our government has emphasized the pivotal role of front-line health-care workers in our health-care system’s refocusing from the onset. In my new capacity, I am committed to ensuring this principle is not only upheld but actively put into practice.”

 

 

The Ecto-1 cruises Main Street with a purpose for scenes in Ghostbusters: Afterlife.

The shows must go on

Alberta’s magnificent countryside and historic downtowns will continue unfolding across screens here and abroad, incentives supported in Budget 2024 suggest.

A $5.4-million pot for project grants is not merely so the people of Fort Macleod and Grande Prairie can blurt “I’ve been there!” through their popcorn. The numbers show that the business case for film and TV is as strong as the wind across the Prairies, the government says.

Every dollar of support generates four dollars in provincial investment, which justifies putting money into “securing Alberta’s position as a filmmaking production hub through targeted incentives,” says the UCP budget tabled Feb. 29 by Finance Minister Nate Horner.

Alberta has been a hotspot for the making of movies and TV shows for decades, despite a slump in the late 1990s because of a major funding elimination. Often, Alberta’s countryside, cities, towns and tourist destinations stand in for U.S. locales, and Albertans are now well accustomed to seeing their neighbourhoods and scenic vistas splashed before their eyes.

Since 2020, the Alberta government has helped fund 267 screen-based projects, the responsible ministry says. These have resulted in a $1.2-billion spend-back in the province and created over 4,000 jobs.

Tanya Fir, the minister of arts and culture and the member for Calgary-Peigan, said in an email statement that the government is “very proud of these numbers, and we will continue to find new ways to expand this booming sector. We are seeing numerous award-winning productions choose Alberta because of our trained and ready workforce, breathtaking filming locations and low corporate tax rates.”

 

 

Alberta’s general corporate income tax rate is eight per cent, the lowest of all Canadian provinces. In 2022 the province said 3,200 new workers a year are launched into the creative industries by post-secondary institutions. The category includes much of the technical and artistic workforce behind making movies and TV shows.

In all, the province is earmarking $8 million for the Alberta Media Fund, maintaining last year’s record dollar figure for screen and cultural grants.

The Alberta Made Screen Industries Program accepts grant applications for production; post production, visual effects and digital animation; and project/script development.

Other grants in the media fund support organizations involved in music production and book and magazine publishing, along with some film, TV and video work.

Depending on criteria met, tax credits valued at 22 or 30 per cent of production and labour costs come via the provincial Film and Television Tax Credit. New rules will open that eligibility window wider, to 120 days from the start of a project, while also making reality and game shows eligible.

Alberta’s nearest Prairies neighbour earmarked $12 million in grants for film and TV last year, up $2 million from the previous budget. That number does not include a late-year top-up in Saskatchewan of $7.5 million in funding to meet unexpected demand.

 

 

Saskatchewan tax credits for the industry were eliminated in 2012. The general corporate tax rate there, at 12 per cent, is four percentage points higher than Alberta’s.

The Alberta formula appears to be working, a scan of recent productions suggests.

TV series like Billy the Kid, Fargo, and My Life with the Walter Boys make the success-story list, along with Disney’s feature-length film Prey.

 

Fort Macleod is transformed, from some angles at least, into the Austin, Texas, an entertainment and arts mecca promoted with the slogan Keep Austin Weird.

Fort Macleod is transformed, from some angles at least, into the Austin, Texas, an entertainment and arts mecca promoted with the slogan Keep Austin Weird.

Photo by Frank McTighe, The Macleod Gazette

So does the post-apocalyptic TV drama The Last of Us, starring Pedro Pascal of The Mandalorian fame. It hopped all over the Alberta map, with scenes reportedly shot in or around Fort Macleod, High River, Bragg Creek, Okotoks, Waterton Lakes National Park, Olds, Stoney Nakoda First Nation, Priddis, Canmore, Calgary, Edmonton, Grande Prairie and other communities.

The British-Canadian TV production Tin Star, with Tim Roth playing a relocated London detective, filmed its first two seasons in Alberta locations like High River, Dorothy and Waterton.

Success stories started long before the current support structure.

 

Director Christopher Nolan, left, chats with an example the movie Interstellar's star power, Matthew McConnaughey.

Director Christopher Nolan, left, chats with an example the movie Interstellar’s star power, Matthew McConnaughey.

Photo by Frank McTighe, The Macleod Gazette

 

Released a decade go, Interstellar, a dystopian spacetime-warper starring Anne Hathaway and Matthew McConaughey, included location shoots in Fort Macleod, Nanton, Longview, Lethbridge and Okotoks.

Paul Gross’s Canadian First World War film Passchendaele, released in 2008, sent actors and crews to Fort Macleod, Calgary and Tsuut’ina Nation. Way back in the early 1990s, Clint Eastwood used Alberta’s Longview area to stand in for Wyoming in his seminal, Oscar-winning western The Unforgiven.

The year before the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic, filming of Ghostbusters: Afterlife took place in Fort Macleod, Beiseker, Drumheller, Crossfield and other Alberta places.

Heartland, a long-running, family-friendly CBC Television series, is largely filmed in and around High River.

But does government money in film and TV have an impact on the industry?

Probably. Back in 1996, the Ralph Klein austerity movement saw the elimination of the Alberta Motion Picture Development Corporation. Reportedly, the value of film production dropped by about two thirds and the industry tanked.

Jake and The Kid was a short-lived TV series adapted from a collection of stories by iconic Canadian author W.O. Mitchell, filmed in the mid-1990s in and around Leduc. Production ended after the film corporation’s demise.

Too late for Jake and the Kid, provincial incentives – albeit at a reduced level – returned in 2001.

 

 

More Budget Numbers

Other creative work also receives support in Budget 2024. The Alberta Foundation for the Arts is set to receive a $4.5 million boost to $33.1 million this year, followed by $4.5 million for each of the next two years as well.

“This funding is specifically dedicated to supporting Alberta’s artists in all corners of our province,” the ministry’s statement says.

The budget earmarks $6.2 million for Alberta’s two Jubilee auditoriums and $1.8 million for other cultural industries.

For information about the film and TV production and grants, visit www.alberta.ca/alberta-made-screen-industries-program.

Information on claiming the tax credit can be found at www.alberta.ca/film-television-tax-credit.

 

 

 

Black and white obituary photo of Helen Brown as a young woman.

Obituary | Helen Brown

Helen V. Brown (Morris), beloved wife of the late Ronald Brown, passed away on March 22, 2024, at the age of 86.

Helen was born in West Coleman, Alta., on July 3, 1937, to Adam and Mary Morris. She was predeceased by her loving husband, Ronald Brown, her parents and her sister, Joan. She graduated from the Coleman High School (now a museum).

She taught at Central School, Coleman, from 1956 to 1959. And then taught at St. Michael’s School in Pincher Creek, Grade 2, from 1959 to 1965. Then taught kindergarten from 1966 to 1968. She has many stories and fond memories of “her children” in those years.

She married her very best friend and her “Mr. Wonderful,” Ronald Brown, on Aug. 22, 1959. They were married for 58 years and were inseparable, working together at their business endeavours and in all their travels. Side by side.

She would like to thank the three cousins that kept in touch over the years, Al and Rudy Szymanek and Wayne Krywolt, as well as the great girls that lived on Mountain Street, Cathy, Carol, Kizzy and Luana, who were like daughters to her. She would also like to thank the three ladies that had helped her with her garage sale after the passing of Ronald, Marianne, Edie and Carol.

Also thank you to Maureen, who stopped in to check on an old lady and made her day special frequently, and to her neighbours of many years, Cal and Maggie, and Jerry and all the other friends for taking time and looking after us.

We had a great life!

At Helen’s request, no service will be held.

Condolences may be sent through Eden’s Funeral Home.

 

 

 

Riley Warren heeling a calf on horseback at Rimbey Rodeo

CPRA Spring Season Kicks Off in Rimbey

The 2024 Canadian Professional Rodeo Association calendar year officially took flight on the weekend at West of the 5th Pro Rodeo in Rimbey, where a portion of the event proceeds were donated to STARS. And for veteran timed-event hand Riley Warren, it was a nice start to what he hopes will be a bounce-back year after a disappointing 2023 campaign.

The holder of four Canadian titles (three High Point and the 2021 Tie-Down Roping championship), Warren teamed up with header Nick Teixeira for a 4.5-second, $1,567 win in the team roping and followed that up with a third-place $1,071 cheque (behind winner Kirk Robinson) in the tie-down event. It was exactly the start to the season the Sundre cowboy was looking for.

“It’s been a long time coming since I had a win in the team roping,” the veteran cowboy chuckled, “like two years.”

 

 

It was a first-time rodeo get-together for the pair, with Teixeira recently taking up residence in the Mossleigh area from his home province of British Columbia. “Nick ropes good; I don’t really know yet what my (partner) plans are for this year. But it was a nice win either way.”

One thing Riley Warren is very certain about is his goal for the 2024 season. “I’d like to get back to the CFR in both events, that’s number one and obviously season leader is nice to get if a guy can have some big hits through the summer. And, of course, winning Canada is always on your mind.”

Like the man in the saddle, both horses Warren rode — Jag for his heeling horse and Mona in the tie down roping—are veterans. The sharp-eyed horseman scooped up Jag at a horse sale in 2017 and was heeling on him in a matter of weeks ,while Mona is an 18-year-old mare that has carried the talented horseman to a number of CFRs.

 

Riley Warren heeling a calf on horseback at Rimbey Rodeo

 

 

Other highlights at Rimbey:

Nicholas Patterson took top honours in the bronc riding with an 87 score ($789) on Duffy Rodeo’s Bay Moon (Dyllan Duperron won second on the same horse)

Bareback rider Jacob Stemo making a successful return to competition after a yearlong hiatus—his 80.5 was good for second behind event winner Chett Deitz

Rookie bull rider Grady Young enjoyed his first pro win, an 84-point effort on Duffy’s Smooth Off for $789 (plus $1,185 in ground money as the second-generation talent was the only guy to make the eight-second horn)

Kirk Robinson, 9.0 seconds for the tie-down win and $1,635.60

Chelsea Moore’s 14.84 barrel racing run prevailed for $1,046

Ryan Shuckburgh topped the steer wrestling field with a 4.0 for $1,324

 

 

Meanwhile a little further south

Several CPRA-affiliated competitors had profitable sojourns to various PRCA rodeos. Dawson Hay was on his game once again, collecting $5,170 at Austin, TX, courtesy of a third-place 86.5-point ride in the finals.

Young bronc rider Cache Shellenburg also picked up a third-place cheque ($1,323), this one for his 79 point ride at Cave Creek, Arizona and at the other end of the arena Makayla Boisjoli’s 2.6-second breakaway roping run netted her $1,703.

A couple of Canadians cashed at Waxahachie, Texas. Tie down roper Kyle Lucas was second with an 8.5-second run to pick up $1,866 while Strawbs Jones’ bigtime 87-point effort earned him $1,330. And at the Watford City, North Dakota, Extreme Bares and Broncs, Logan Hay rode to 84 points and $1,451.

Next up for CPRA action is Medicine Hat’s Broncs and Honky Tonks Spring Rodeo April 19-21, and the Spring Break-Up Rodeo in Dawson Creek, BC, April 19-20.

For complete unofficial results and a schedule of other 2024 events, head over to rodeocanada.com

 

Rita Spencer and Joyce Taylor in front of the Windy Slopes Health Foundation recognition wall at the Pincher Creek Health Centre

Windy Slopes has successful year of fundraising

We would like to begin this year’s Windy Slopes Health Foundation report by thanking the people of our community (near and far) for their generosity in supporting what we continue to do to enhance patient care at the Pincher Creek Health Centre.

In these economic times, with the cost of everything on the rise, we have been overwhelmed with gratitude for your continued support. We could not do what we do without all of you.

It has been another successful year for Windy Slopes with donations and equipment purchases. We were able to raise a total of $91,734.72 in donations, memorials, grants, Trees of Hope campaign, etc., making our total purchases for 2023 at $79,093.79.

As of February 2024, Trees of Hope has brought in a total of $25,787.50, once again exceeding our target of $25,000. Donations for the campaign were made by private citizens and local businesses, service groups and interest groups. The Trees of Hope campaign will allow the foundation to help refurbish the palliative family room.

The foundation, with support of the site manager, was successful in supplying the Pincher Creek Health Centre with a variety of equipment and programs.

These purchases range from a Giraffe Warmer for infants, a labour and delivery cart, stretchers, therapeutic drums and other items to enhance the care at our site.

 

 

Our most ambitious undertaking, which took over two years to complete, was the grounds enhancement project. Headed by board member Diane Burt Stuckey, along with consultation from the site manager and grounds employees, shrubs and trees were planted this past summer to enhance the existing grounds.

2023 brought to the foundation three new board members and we thank them for joining our team. One board member moved to our members-at-large list, and one has moved away from the community. We thank them for their participation and dedication to Windy Slopes.

Thank you to the local businesses for their continued support by including us in things such as the Co-op’s Fuel Good Days, Tim Hortons Smile Cookie Day, McDonald’s grand opening, WinWin participation, Co-op Agro, and our local media, Shootin’ the Breeze, for sharing our success stories.

We continue to upgrade the Wall of Recognition at the health centre as needed, with the help of Signs Unlimited. The donation box in the waiting room is checked regularly and acknowledgments are sent out promptly.

Thank you, again, from the Windy Slopes Health Foundation board: chairperson Suzanne Curran, vice-chair BJ Scott, Dennis Robin, DonaLee Smith, Harley Crowshoe, Diane Burt Stuckey, Reona Erickson, Tracey Corriea, Joyce Taylor, Jo Baker, Rita Spencer and administrative assistant Michelle Visser.

 

 

Moira Robbins

Obituary | Moira Robbins

Moira grew up in Willunga, a small seaside town near Adelaide in South Australia, the younger sister of Tony and Brian Liddy.

An explorer ahead of her time, Moira’s travels took her to all corners of the world. After commencing her teaching career in Adelaide and Darwin, she boarded a boat for London, where she taught for a few years before her next post at a school run by the British Embassy in Lima, Peru.

Her adventures spanned Europe, North Africa and South America, making connections with countless people across the globe with her trademark charisma, warmth and flair. Her journey then took her to Calgary, where she was assigned to teach at a school at which her husband-to-be, Leo, was assistant principal.

After returning to Australia for a few years around the passing of her parents, Moira returned to Canada in 1974, and she and Leo were married that fall. Moira’s fascination with the world and her passion for people never diminished, as she poured her heart and soul into her children, her family and her community.

Moira’s legacy lives on not just through her family, but also the countless lives that she touched. She was truly a unique and unforgettable woman, who shall be missed dearly by many. She left us with so many gifts, including adventure and travel, kindness and a friendly wave to everyone, a laugh and a good party, a love for reading and education, community, cheering for the home team …

Moira is survived by her husband of 49 years, Leo Robbins; her children, Sarah, Michael (Terri) and Tim (Peter McMinn); her grandchildren, Peter, Hannah and Emily; and her brother Brian Liddy in Australia.

She was predeceased by her parents, Michael and Anne Liddy, brother Tony and sister-in-law Pat. There were many family and friends that touched her life and went before her, and many that she leaves behind to miss her.

A memorial mass was held at St. Michael’s Catholic Church, Pincher Creek, Alta., on Tuesday, March 12, 2024.

An interment celebration will be held at a later date in Pincher Creek, Alta., and Willunga, South Australia.

 

 

 

Suzanne Hul

Obituary | Suzanne Hul

Suzanne Hul of Pincher Creek passed away peacefully on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024, at the age of 90. May she rest in peace.

Suzanne was born in Belgium and moved with her family to Canada, where they began ranching in Pincher Creek, Alta. Suzanne loved spending time with her friends and family, and taking care of her sheep on the farm.

Suzanne was a dedicated mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She was very strong, an amazing cook, talented seamstress, successful farmer, and wonderful friend and peer.

Suzanne will be terribly missed and lovingly remembered by her grandson Chris, his wife Aleksandra, and their children Evelette and William of Pincher Creek, and by her granddaughter Amanda and her children Eady and Leela (a.k.a. Alex) of Lethbridge.

Her presence will be greatly missed by her siblings: her brother Hugo Meys, her sister Elisabeth Cracau and her brother Paul Meys.

Suzanne was predeceased by her daughter, Claudine Crook; her husband, Rafael Hul; her father, Marcellus Meys of Antwerp; and her mother, Antoinette Maria Muylle of Oudenburg.

A celebration of life will be held on April 7, 2024, at the Pincher Creek Legion, 691 Main St., Pincher Creek, Alta., from 1 to 4 p.m.

 

 

 

Three white envelopes blow in the wind in front of an open grey mailbox

Alberta’s water crisis is just beginning

In the past week, Albertans have been confronted with a triple whammy of water crises.

On Feb. 20, the Government of Alberta declared the start of wildfire season, 10 days earlier than the usual March 1 start due to this season’s warm temperatures, which have been compounded by the fact that large parts of Alberta are under severe or extreme drought.

On Feb. 23, the Crowsnest River in southern Alberta was reported to have run dry upstream of Cowley. (The claim was later disputed, with the halted water flow being blamed on ice buildup.) The Crowsnest River is a tributary to the Old Man, which has seen record-low river levels and extremely low reservoir levels this year.

While many Albertans were astonished by these two announcements, the Alberta Energy Regulator also announced in an internal letter that it had accepted initial applications and is open to public hearings for the controversial Grassy Mountain coal mine on the Eastern Slopes, a project which has already been turned down twice. An application for a water diversion licence has been submitted to AER.

What does the potential coal mine have to do with water? Coal mines use 250 litres of fresh water and about 750 litres of recycled water per tonne of coal produced. According to estimates, Grassy Mountain will divert 1.125 billion litres of fresh water per year from the Old Man watershed.

Though they appeared as separate stories, this past week’s news demonstrates the interrelatedness of our crises. Alberta is experiencing a critical water shortage, and action is needed immediately.

 

 

We need a new holistic approach to water in this province that looks at the cumulative impacts and interconnections between water usage and water shortage. This holistic approach also needs to consider the role of climate change in driving both increased water usage and drought.

The Government of Alberta has taken some steps to tackling our water crisis by creating a new drought advisory committee earlier this month. This committee, however, poorly represents the diversity of stakeholders and communities impacted by drought. Specifically, it does not include the communities most impacted. Alarmingly, this committee does not include water and/or drought researchers. 

The lack of scientists is troubling but not surprising considering the GOA’s acceptance of recent recommendations to consider “non-scientific evidence during an emergency.” Alberta Environment Minister Rebecca Schulz has failed to mention the impact of climate change on Alberta’s long-term droughts. Instead she blamed El Niño, a periodic system associated with warm dry weather, even while a group of scientists in her very department published research warning of extreme drought in Alberta due to global warming.

The GOA has also started, as of Feb. 1, unprecedented negotiations with Alberta’s current water licence holders, who operate under a “first in time, first in right” system. But all negotiations are occurring behind closed doors, with no indication of whether changes in water licensing are forthcoming.

Alberta needs an independent water board that has teeth and the ability to make policy, licensing and emergency decisions, apart from both the GOA and AER. An independent water board would guarantee both transparency and the more substantial inclusion of stakeholders, communities and experts than we see currently.

 

 

An independent water board could not only manage the province’s water licenses and complex water license transfer system, but also include Indigenous communities, industry, agriculture, tourism, scientists, wildfire specialists, as well as a limited number of municipal and provincial government members. 

There is already a precedent for independent water boards in Canada, in the Yukon and Northwest Territories, where water co-governance is mandated by modern treaties. While these systems too have limitations, they could be built and improved upon.

The GOA already greatly benefits from its partnership with the Alberta Water Council, Watershed Planning and Advisory Councils and Watershed Stewardship Groups, according to the GOA’s Water for Life Strategy. Why not provide these collaborators the opportunity to act directly and authoritatively through an empowered water board?

If water really is “a life source” as the GOA describes it, all Albertans should be taking a much more active role in its governance than they have been allowed to do. It is time that Albertans get serious about our water because the consequences of our water crises are just getting started.

Sabrina Perić

Energy anthropologist, associate professor at the University of Calgary, and co-director of the Energy Stories Lab

 

 

Shootin’ the Breeze welcomes submissions about local issues and activities. Personal views expressed in Mailbox articles are those of the writers and do not necessarily reflect views of Shootin’ the Breeze management and staff.