Alberta mayors meet Shandro to make the case against centralized ambulance dispatch


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Municipal Affairs Minister Tracey Allard and Alberta’s chief paramedic Darren Sandbeck were also at the meeting.

Calgary, Red Deer, Lethbridge and Wood Buffalo currently have the only remaining municipally run ambulance dispatch systems in the province. The rest of Alberta was consolidated into three AHS dispatch centres in 2009.

Multiple provincial governments in the decade since have looked at finishing up the centralization but decided against it. NDP Leader Rachel Notley told reporters in Lethbridge on Thursday that she and former NDP health minister Sarah Hoffman were among those who got the “pitch” on consolidation in 2016, but after reviewing the evidence, they said no.

In August, AHS announced the transition for the final municipalities would go ahead, and the mayors have been calling for Shandro to stop it ever since.

They’ve warned against changing local systems where EMS and fire departments have an integrated response. For Lethbridge and Calgary, that system also includes their local police departments.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi (left) and Wood Buffalo Mayor Don Scott (right) walk past the dome of the Alberta Legislature following a meeting with Minister of Health Tyler Shandro about Alberta Health Services' plans to consolidate EMS Dispatch, in Edmonton Thursday Sept. 24, 2020. The meeting was also attended by the mayors of Red Deer and Lethbridge. Photo by David Bloom
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi (left) and Wood Buffalo Mayor Don Scott (right) walk past the dome of the Alberta Legislature following a meeting with Minister of Health Tyler Shandro about Alberta Health Services’ plans to consolidate EMS Dispatch, in Edmonton Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020. The meeting was also attended by the mayors of Red Deer and Lethbridge. Photo by David Bloom/Postmedia

Lethbridge Fire and Emergency Services Deputy Chief Kelly L’Hirondelle said Thursday that he doesn’t want to disrupt a dispatch system “where police, fire and EMS literally sit next to each other on the same consoles.”

For Calgary, Nenshi said communication between EMS and Calgary Fire is crucial since firefighters are first on the scene of a medical emergency about half the time.

“The new system will mean that early response, that early life-saving response from firefighters, will no longer be available,” he said.

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With Ranchman’s closing, cowboys and cowgirls looking to get their memorabilia back

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Ranchman’s was founded by Harris Dvorkin and Kevin Baker, but after Dvorkin died in 2017 it was sold to Doug Rasberry, who has owned and operated a number of bars in town. When the bar changed hands, realtor Rob Campbell says the saddles and other memorabilia were specifically excluded from the paperwork and were never included in the asset list.

Between Calgary’s economic downturn and the devastating effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, though, Ranchman’s ran into financial trouble and BMO has now begun the process of seizing assets. That includes, for now, memorabilia like Roy’s prized saddle.

Campbell says more than 140 people had their memorabilia on display at Ranchman’s and are hoping to get it back.

“What we’re waiting for now is for the bank to review the paperwork and hopefully come to the conclusion that we all know is the correct one, which is that these people should get their stuff back,” Campbell said. “That’s kind of where we’re at. It’s not my job to jump up and down on the bank. They’re doing what they do with every other situation they’re involved in and hopefully when they review the paperwork they’ll come to the same conclusion that we all have.

“BMO is one of the biggest sponsors of the Calgary Stampede. They understand Calgary, they understand Alberta, they understand the culture here. It just has to run its course.”

That means people like Roy just need to wait, for now. He’s got decades of fond memories from nights spent at Ranchman’s, where he got a free bar tab because he had his saddle on display.

Roy, who lives east of Calgary near Dalemead, says he would also like to get back a framed sign from the party that was thrown for him at Ranchman’s when he returned from winning the NFR with signatures from everyone who attended, and another saddle from the Canadian circuit.

It’s the NFR saddle he wants back most, though.

“You don’t win the world every day,” Roy said. “It’s like getting a Super Bowl ring. You don’t get many, but you cherish the ones you get.”

daustin@postmedia.com

Twitter: @DannyAustin_9

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Harm reduction advocates say UCP needs to prioritize opioid crisis


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A needle drop box outside the Sheldon Chumir Health Centre Supervised Consumption Site downtown. Thursday, September 24, 2020. Photo by Brendan Miller/Postmedia

Other provinces have also seen a rise in overdose deaths in recent months, Luan said in a news release Wednesday, adding that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the struggles of many Albertans.

In a Thursday statement, Kassandra Kitz, a spokeswoman for Luan’s office, said the province is “continuing to monitor opioid fatalities in the province closely and making investments where they are needed most.”

“The impact of COVID-19 on people struggling with substance use is being seen across the country, largely due to an inability to access treatment and supports that they depend on, but also due to additional stress and mental-health challenges,” said Kitz.

Kitz touted government investments, such as the $53-million COVID-19 mental-health and addiction action plan, and a $4-million investment to expand access to the province’s virtual opioid dependency program. The government is also adding more than 4,000 government-funded addictions treatment beds.

Dr. Rebecca Haines-Saah, a University of Calgary professor who specializes in substance use and harm reduction, said the government’s investment into treatment and recovery is welcomed. But she said it fails to address immediate needs of the community.

“There has been federal endorsement of what we call safe supply options, so providing people with a pharmaceutical-grade medication that would replace the hazardous drug supply, and that is not being taken up in Alberta due to lack of provincial support,” said Haines-Saah.

Luan has previously told Postmedia the Kenney government is “not entertaining any proposals using taxpayer money to buy drugs to sustain any form of addiction.”

He also said they are “laser-focused” on treatment and recovery, and “anything less” wouldn’t be considered by the UCP.

Kitz declined to provide an update on the future of the province’s supervised consumption sites following a government-ordered review into their services last year.

alsmith@postmedia.com

Twitter: @alanna_smithh

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Stolen Skip the Dishes vehicle in hit-and-run collision


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A man is recovering in hospital after being run down Thursday by a thief operating a vehicle stolen from a Skip the Dishes driver in the city’s northeast.

Around 1:30 p.m., the driver with the food delivery service was picking up an order at the McDonald’s restaurant at 5219 Falsbridge Dr. N.E. when a man jumped into his vehicle.

“He left the vehicle running outside the McDonalds and an individual proceeded to get into it and drive away,” said Sgt. Jim Dalidowicz of the Calgary Police Service.

“The Skip the Dishes driver jumped on the hood of the vehicle and fell off a short distance later.”

The delivery driver wasn’t seriously hurt but the thief drove his vehicle into a pedestrian in the parking lot moments later.

A male pedestrian was taken to Foothills Medical Centre in critical condition but was later upgraded to stable.

Police found the stolen vehicle abandoned a short distance away with a shattered windshield but the suspect had fled on foot, said Dalidowicz.

The suspect is described as south Asian.

Calgary police hold the scene where a stolen car was found dumped about 1 km from a hit and run scene in Falconridge in northeast Calgary on Thursday, September 24, 2020. Photo by Jim Wells/Postmedia

BKaufmann@postmedia.com

on Twitter: @BillKaufmannjrn

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Questions arise over time lag, inconsistencies around informing those impacted by COVID in schools


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“The more cases we have, the more ripple effects there are,” she said.

“Students who test positive are impacting all of their classmates, all of their teachers, and everyone in their families. All of those people now have to miss school or work for at least two weeks.

“That is a lot of disruption, not just to education and learning, but also to the economy.”

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw. Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health, noted Thursday 13 schools in Alberta that previously had alerts have had no transmission for two weeks and students and staff are back in class.

Hinshaw confirmed there are active alerts or outbreaks in 97 Alberta schools with 163 active cases, representing about four per cent of schools in the province.

And there are 32 school outbreaks, seven of which have had transmission within school, and four are in the “watch” category with five or more cases.

But Hinshaw stressed that since schools opened three weeks ago, cases in school-aged children have seen a week-over-week decrease, and are down from the peak in April.

“Our highest number of cases in this age group was in April, at the time of our peak, when we had 216 cases of 2,257 people tested.

“But since school started, we’ve seen a week over week decrease from 205, to 183, to 122 cases per week in school-aged children. And this is in spite of a significant increase in testing with over 11,000, 18,000 and 14,000 children tested in those weeks.

“I want to highlight these numbers not to minimize the importance of school safety,” Hinshaw added, “but to highlight the importance of minimizing community transmission to make school re-entry successful.”

eferguson@postmedia.com

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Second wave hasn’t arrived in Alberta yet, epidemiologists say, but surge likely coming

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“When you look at the zones, I think there are starting to be some patterns that are a little more concerning. When I look at the Edmonton zone, they’ve been on a steady increase now in July, and it’s a more persistent increase day-over-day,” Eurich said.

“To me, the one hot spot is Edmonton zone, they seem to be on a little bit of a different trajectory than the rest of the province. But again I wouldn’t consider what’s happening in Edmonton to be a second wave yet.”

It’s worth watching case numbers closely in coming days, Jenne said, as the impacts of the return to the classroom will begin to appear in data.

Though Trudeau warned the second wave could be dramatically worse than what was seen in spring, both epidemiologists said there was no science explicitly suggesting the fall wave would be more harmful. The deciding factor, Jenne said, is how people behave over upcoming months.

“It’s not because the virus is worse, but it’s because we’re most hesitant in our response or more unwilling to close things down that may lead to a worse spike in cases in the fall,” he said.

Hinshaw said the province would be willing to impose “targeted” measures for areas of Alberta in ‘watch’ status, meaning the region has at least 10 active cases and more than 50 active cases per 100,000 residents.

Nineteen regions of the province are currently under watch, including both Calgary’s upper and lower northeast. Their status could be updated to ‘enhanced’ as measures are imposed, but hasn’t yet been necessary, Hinshaw said.

“That framework does allow us to be more targeted if we should need to consider additional restrictions, to look at what our data is telling us about where spread is happening,” she said.

It’s possible some activities could be restricted if data suggests those activities are driving spread, Hinshaw said.

jherring@postmedia.com

Twitter: @jasonfherring

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Husband of dayhome operator found guilty of assaulting two children

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The boy’s father recalled a shift in his attitude that summer and had noticed he had bruises, some that looked like fingerprints. Whenever he asked, the boy would say “he didn’t remember where they were from.”

The five-year-old had attended the dayhome in July and August 2018.

A friend reached out to the boy’s parents in the summer of 2019, letting them know Langager had been arrested on July 15 and charged with assault. His father then asked his son about the bruises, and his son told him that he hadn’t said anything because “he didn’t want to get in trouble.”

In his interview with a detective, the boy said he would be held up and smacked, and that the beatings “made my heart so sad.”

The 19-month-old was dropped off at the dayhome on March 11, 2019, and when the boy’s father picked him up, he “seemed very pale; his eyes were very large; he looked at his father; and, was not really happy to see him, which his father said was not his normal reaction.”

He spoke with Langager, who pointed out that the child seemed to have a rash behind his ear and on his chest. They discussed the rash and the boy’s father decided it was best to take him to a walk-in clinic.

He was told the 19-month-old had broken blood vessels and that he should follow up with their family doctor. He was taken to the Children’s Hospital by both parents. The petechiae got worse, turning blue and staying for two or three weeks.

Dr. Jennifer D’Mello, a child abuse expert doctor, testified that she saw the 19-month-old when his parents brought him in and said the petechiae was a concern for inflicted injury.

In her opinion, there was “no medical cause for the petechiae on the child’s head and neck, and the smaller petechia areas on his upper chest and behind his knee.”

The judge said Langager’s testimony was vague and had many inconsistencies. Skene wrote that she found him guilty of both assaults.

sbabych@postmedia.com
Twitter: @BabychStephanie

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Five places to escape the crowds for winter play within a half-day drive from Calgary


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Just think

Be a respectful roadie. Don’t forget the good ways of care, put that mask on when you are not two ski lengths away from someone, always wear it indoors, don’t gather in groups, stay with your crew, as turns are more fun shared with those you know and give a hoot don’t pollute, not the trail, parking lot or side of the road, never ever.


Kimberley, BC
feel local here Photo by @PowderMatt

Learn here. Kimberley is a place with soul

It’s that Kootenay ‘mana’. People are nice with a low key vibe, this is the place to learn to ski – both alpine and cross country. With tons of terrain to challenge the go-getter in your crew, while they are hard at it, you can be making those first turns with a dedicated, safe and open spaced learning area. Kimberley Alpine Resort is perfect for beginners, with a great crew of professional ski instructors ready to help you hone your skills. And at the nearby Kimberley Nordic Club, beginners can shine on the track too.

Kimberley is known for snow and sunshine
snow play and sunshine Photo by @PowderMatt

Stay:  Condo lodge and your own kitchen? This is Trickle Creek Lodge, providing that perfect pillow time, as you look out the window to watch beginners making their first turns.


Cranbrook. Ride on

Like a hub on your mountain bike tire, all spokes lead to adventure from here. Most people drive by, but this place has fat biking (snow bike) trails that rock. Winding around the forested hillsides with plenty of value-priced lodging options. You can stay and ride bikes and boards in the same weekend, as it’s only a little over an hour to snowy Fernie and just 15 minutes from Kimberley’s alpine skiing.

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Travellers report greater satisfaction at Calgary International Airport during pandemic

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While few people have been travelling on planes since March, those who do have to go through airports are unsurprisingly reporting higher satisfaction with that experience, according to a study from J.D. Power.

The 2020 North America Airport Satisfaction Survey found airport satisfaction has risen sharply since the onset of COVID-19.

At Calgary International Airport, customer satisfaction jumped 27 points from 765 to 792 out of 1000.

The overall customer satisfaction across North America climbed 22 points to 784.

Unsurprisingly, the absence of long lineups and crowds is thought to be what is driving the increase.

“Compared to the pre-COVID-19 environment when most airports were running significantly over capacity, the lack of crowds and long lines is actually creating a very convenient experience for travellers right now,” said Michael Taylor, travel intelligence lead at J.D. Power.

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Film festival safety-conscious concerts: 10 things to do in Calgary this week

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Neil Zeller captured families in socially distant portraits during the pandemic lockdown. The result is the exhibition Porchraits, on display until Oct. 31 at the Glenbow Museum. At Glenbow, glenbow.org.

The fall exhibitions — three solo exhibitions by Liz Magor, Samuel Roy-Bois and Jon Sasaki — at the Esker Foundation open Friday. At Esker Foundation, eskerfoundation.com.

Wordfest brings Zsuzsi Gartner and her first novel The Beguiling to Calgarians Thursday night with an online event that is “part conversation, part reading, and part audience confessionals.” Online, wordfest.com.

Rise Up brings together Calgary festivals Calgary Folk Music Festival, Calgary ReggaeFest, Stampede, Big Winter Classic and the Calgary International Blues Festival for six safety-conscious concerts over three days you can enjoy from the comfort of your car. Performers include Sargeant x Comrade, Jade Eagleson, PowerHouze Band, Sunglaciers, and The Groove Crew. At Telus Spark, showpass.com/o/bigartdrivein.

Inside Telus Spark, Fridays are Fiver Fridays where adults can enjoy the full run of the place for $5 admission. At Telus Spark, sparkscience.ca.

SensoryBox, the latest sense-tingling theatrical event from Ghost River Theatre, features a mysterious box and guidance from actor Mike Tan. You can be one of 20 people to experience it in theatre each night or you can get the experience sent to you at home. At West Village Theatre and online, ghostrivertheatre.com.

Vertigo Theatre also gets in on the at-home theatre experience with The Voice on the Wire, a 30-minute radio mystery. Online, vertigotheatre.com.

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