Alberta News in Brief for June 15

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016 11:11am

Pipeline leak near grizzly protection area

June 14, 2016. A pipeline operated by ConocoPhillips Canada has spilled an estimated 380,000 litres of light petroleum within five kilometres of a provincially designated grizzly bear management zone in northwestern Alberta. An undetermined amount has reached nearby Webb Creek, which flows to a beaver dam and then into the Simonette River. In a statement posted on ConocoPhillips Canada website Tuesday, the company said the leak was seen at a pipeline right-of-way near its Resthaven gas plant about 65 kilometres northeast of Grande Cache last Thursday afternoon. ConocoPhillips said it has activated its emergency response plan and the pipeline, which along with the gas plant is jointly owned with Calgary producer Paramount Resources, has been shut down and isolated. The Alberta Energy Regulator said it has issued an environmental protection order to ConocoPhillips to contain the release and prevent it from spreading, while controlling access, collecting water and soil samples and submitting a final report to AER. According to AER, this is the largest hydrocarbon leak from a pipeline since Nexen spilled five million litres of bitumen emulsion in July 2015.


AHS lifts air quality advisory for Fort McMurray

June 14, 2016. Alberta Health Services has lifted the air quality advisory issued on May 2, 2016, for the Fort McMurray area. Air monitoring has shown that the community is no longer significantly impacted by smoke from wildfires. As the air quality advisory has been lifted and restoration of health services at the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre continues, AHS is no longer recommending the delayed return of children under the age of seven. Pediatric services are now available at the hospital and in the community, along with medical and surgical inpatient, ICU, OR, obstetrical and inpatient psychiatric services. On June 21, the hospital will return to providing full comprehensive healthcare services, including dialysis, cancer care, and long term care.


Métis Judiciary Council under independent review

June 15, 2016. Members and non-members of the Métis Nation of Alberta will have input into an independent comprehensive review of the Métis Judiciary Council, which is being undertaken by Deloitte. Consultations could result in the re-design of the Métis judicial process. The purpose of the review is to determine the adequacy of MJC's work including how matters are brought forward, MJC powers and rights of the parties involved, and the adequacy of previous decisions, said a statement issued by the MNA. Three-hour consultations will be held in each of the MNA’s six regions from June 20-29.


Federal government announces next point-in-time homelessness count

June 14, 2016. The federal government has announced it will be carrying out a second nationally coordinated homelessness point-in-time count, this one between March 1 and April 30 in 2018. The first such national count took place from January to April in 2016 and did not include participation from the 7 Cities - Edmonton, Calgary, Red Deer, Grande Prairie, Fort McMurray, Medicine Hat and Lethbridge – which held that a cold weather count could under-represent the number of homeless people. The 7 Cities will be conducting its own point in time homeless count on Oct. 19, 2016. The last such count by the 7 Cities was in October 2014 and enumerated 6,663 individuals, a figure which included 30 per cent Aboriginal people as homeless. The overall figure represents a 16 per cent decrease compared to 2008, which were the last counts held before the 10 Year Plan to end homelessness. In a news release, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Jean-Yves Duclos said that by announcing the 2018 count early, there will be an opportunity for more communities to participate. Discussions with designated communities, including Canada’s major cities, are taking place over the next months to help to guide the approach taken for 2018. The second count will include a focus on engaging with homeless youth and Indigenous communities. The 7 Cities have not indicated whether they will participate in the federal government’s nation-wide point-in-time homelessness count. 


RCMP to determine if criminal charges to be laid in Fort McMurray fire

June 14, 2016. Nearly six weeks after the mass evacuation of Fort McMurray, Fort McMurray First Nation, Fort McKay First Nation, Anzac, and Gregoire Lake Estates, the RCMP is seeking the public’s assistance in the investigation into the cause of the wildfire. The fire started 15 kilometers southwest of the city of Fort McMurray and was first sighted by an airborne forestry crew on May 1. Wildfire investigators for the province have established that the fire was most likely the result of human activity as lightening has been ruled out. The RCMP will be determining whether a criminal offence was involved in the ignition. To date, police have not made a determination on how the fire was started, but would like to speak with anyone who was in the popular wilderness area known as the Horse River Trail System between April 29 and May 5.  These people may have information that could assist police and are asked to call the RCMP’s dedicated toll-free wildfire investigation phone line at 1-844-620-9826. Those wishing to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.  


New funding for projects to increase drug awareness

June 14, 2016. The province is providing $240,000 in grant monies to 17 projects to raise awareness about the dangers of drug use. Among those to receive funding are school programs to connect students to cultural activities and increase awareness around substance abuse, while educating students on prevention and early intervention services; community programs to increase awareness of drug problems with improved education about the dangers of drug use and discussions among parents, children and stakeholders to educate citizens about different drugs and their risks; film projects involving students in the creation and production of a video regarding drug risks; and training to criminal analysts in Alberta to build a provincial network for analysts to increase professional capacity. “These grants will be used to increase awareness of the dangers of drug abuse and opioid use in our communities, with the ultimate goal of saving lives,” said Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Kathleen Ganley. Money for the programs comes through the Proceeds of Crime Fund.


AFN tells senate committee overhaul of NEB process needed

June 14, 2016. In a presentation to the Senate Committee on Transport on Tuesday, Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde and Alberta Regional Chief Craig Mackinaw said there must be an overhaul of the National Energy Board process and the Pipeline Safety Act to allow First Nations to be full partners in the review, decision-making and regulation of pipelines. Mackinaw said that First Nations are neither always supportive of or opposed to development but do want development to be responsible, sustainable and fully respectful of First Nations rights. "We have perspectives on all sides of the debate, just as there is nationally and globally, about where the balance lies between environmental protection and economic development. What Canada needs is a regulatory approvals process that ensures meaningful dialogue between First Nations, project proponents and the Crown," said Mackinaw. The current review process, he added, forces First Nations to undertake lengthy and costly legal battles to ensure respect for First Nations rights.


ECALA looks at moving forward with Aboriginal literacy programming

June 14, 2016.  A report on Aboriginal literacy prepared for the Edmonton Community Adult Learning Association and released on Tuesday calls for the organization to work with governments for long-term sustainable funding to develop policy, guidelines, teaching and learning resources for adult basic literacy serving urban Aboriginal people. In a review of literacy programming for Aboriginal adults within Edmonton, author Dr. Cora Weber-Pillwax stressed the need for a holistic approach. “A learner-centered pedagogy that attends to the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual aspects of each individual is viewed as essential to Aboriginal learner success,” said Weber-Pillwax. That holistic approach also includes partnering with other agencies, developing a relationship between teacher and student, and supporting community.