Tidal bore surfer pens song for new Petitcodiac River bridge

A Riverview man known for surfing the Petitcodiac River tidal bore has released a song. It’s about the new bridge, which he says is already giving life back to the river. Shelley Steeves has more.

A Riverview, N.B., man known for surfing the Petitcodiac River tidal bore has released a song that’s about the new bridge, which Melvin Perez says is already giving life back to the river.

Perez has been surfing the tidal bore for years, and on Friday he walked across the new bridge that spans the river he holds so dear.

The new bridge is part of a $61.6-million construction project, which replaced the causeway with a four-lane bridge and widened the river channel.

The river channel is about 175 metres wide, restoring the previously cut-off tidal flow.

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‘This is historic’: New Petitcodiac River bridge opens

Perez wrote the song called ‘The Bridge’ about the new span that he says has set the river free just before the bridge’s official opening on Friday.

Originally from Costa Rica, Perez settled in New Brunswick in 2012 and instantly felt a connection to the river, which he says is showing signs of life since the water has been rerouted under the new bridge.

“The first new weeks I started to see more activity of life than in a whole year,” said Perez, which he describes in his song and music video.

The music video for the song was produced by Colleen Furlotte, which she called the bridge “a real representation of the river finally getting to heal and try to return back to its former glory”

Along with its tidal bore that is also returning to its former glory says Perez, he’s already noticing a rise in water levels in its wave.

“The river it is flowing down downstream free so that rush of water meeting that tidal bore creates more power and more rush,” Perez said.

This means also a better surfing experience, but his love of riding the waves and of writing music still doesn’t override his love of the river itself.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Untreated wastewater flows into river on Meadowbrook Golf Course

Watch: Concerns are growing about an environmental hazard that's been brewing for decades. Untreated wastewater and raw sewage is being dumped directly into a small river than runs through a Montreal-area golf course. As Global’s Tim Sargeant reports, environmentalists and conservationists are sounding the alarm.

As golfers tee off at the Meadowbrook Golf Club in Montreal West, there is an unsightly river flowing right next to the greens.

Untreated wastewater and raw sewage is filling the waterway that meanders across the course.

The problem is due to cross-connecting pipes in the neighbouring cities of Montreal West and Côte Saint-Luc.

Wastewater from people’s homes is supposed to be connected to dedicated sewage lines but, in some cases, that’s not happening.

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“Frustrated, for sure,” André Bélanger, the director general of Fondation Rivières, told Global News.

Bélanger wants local municipalities to correct the problem at the source.

“Can Côte Saint-Luc and Montreal West take a stand and say, OK, we will resolve it in the next three years,” he said.

The mayor of Côte Saint-Luc says city officials are aware of the problem and it has plans to correct the issue.

Mitchell Brownstein says there are four cross-connecting pipes on people’s homes and five city-owned sewage lines that leak.

“Of course, it’s a big concern and we’re going to, number one, repair those cross connections and have our residents do the same.” Mitchell said.

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In an email to Global News, a Montreal city spokesperson writes that the city plans to build a dike for the untreated wastewater so that raw sewage mixed with rainwater runoff is no longer exposed in the river.

But some conservationists fear the city’s solution will dry up the river.

“There won’t be a river anymore. They’re taking away 96 per cent of the river’s watershed,” Louise Legault, of Les Amis du Parc Meadowbrook told Global News.

Bélanger has written to the ministers of municipal affairs and the environment but there has been no commitment to help clean up the environmental mess.

“I feel discouraged from this provincial government,” he said.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Saskatchewan Roughriders ready for first game with vaccine verification program

Game day will look different on Friday for Riders fans when the Saskatchewan Roughriders host the Toronto Argonauts at Mosaic Stadium.

It will be the first time that fans will be required to show COVID-19 vaccine verification or a verified negative test before entering the gates to watch the game live.

Earlier this week, the club shared the final details of its vaccine verification program, which received guidance from the Ministry of Health and the Saskatchewan Health Association (SHA).

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The Riders said the process not only addresses needs from a health perspective, but also considers the game day experience for fans.

“We want our fans to know that they have to be prepared,” said Miriam Johnson, director of marketing and fan engagement for the Roughriders.

“If you have your ID and have your MySaskHealthRecord, you can actually screenshot it on your phone and make things a whole lot smoother.”

Fans are encouraged to show up to the stadium early with Mosaic Stadium gates opening two hours ahead of kickoff at 7:45 p.m. CST.

SHA staff will be on-site and available to help the Riders throughout the verification process on game day.

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Once fans gets the thumbs-up during the pre-screening process, they will receive a bracelet to show they were approved to come through at the gates.

“The SHA said they can be there to verify,” shared Johnson. “We were blown away on Thursday because over 3,000 fans showed up to get pre-screened, and it’s the same today. It’s incredible.”

Haztech will have a rapid test station set up at the stadium as an option to gain entry, but fans will be charged the cost of the test, noted Johnson.

As for mask use, fans are encouraged to wear a mask while in the stands, but it’s not required.

Read more:
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However, people will need to wear a mask within indoor spaces at the stadium including suites, the Harvard Studio 620 Lounge, media level and the AGT Lounge.

“The city had already implemented a mask mandate for indoor spaces prior to the Labour Day Classic, but the outdoor experience at this point is not impacted,” Johnson added.

Johnson said she has three tips for football fans heading to Mosaic Stadium.

She encourages fans to have their tickets loaded and ready to go, their vaccine verification or negative test result ready to go and to make sure people are following the baggage rules listed at the club’s website.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Edmonton Oilers rookies jump into game action Saturday night

WATCH ABOVE: Some recent video about the world of hockey.

It’ll be the young guns’ Battle of Alberta Saturday night at Rogers Place when the Edmonton Oilers rookies meet the Calgary Flames rookies.

“We want them to play towards their strengths. We’ve spent the last two days going over just minimal parts of structure to give them some sort of a structure,” said Jay Woodcroft, who will coach the Oilers’ rookies.

“We know there are going to be mistakes, and that’s OK. It’s about how we respond to mistakes, learn from mistakes.”

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The Oilers’ lineup will feature 2019 first round draft pick Philip Broberg. He spent last season with Skelleftea in the Swedish Hockey League and was in Edmonton in December and January for the for World Juniors.

“I had a knee injury and a shoulder injury during the time I was at World Juniors. Of course, it was difficult, but you’re always honoured to play for your country,” said Broberg.

“I had a good opportunity this summer to get strong and get faster and get ready for this season.”

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The Oilers’ top offensive line on Saturday is expected to include Xavier Bourgault (22nd overall, 2021) and Raphael Lavoie (38th overall, 2019).

“I think they’re both skilled players. Raff has the dimensional size for a forward. He has a great shot and a bit of professional experience under his belt,” said Woodcroft. “In the first two days on the ice, (Bourgault) has impressed me with his level of compete.

“He does a lot of little subtle things that may go unnoticed by the general public, but little things that coaches appreciate and certainly his teammates appreciate.”

The third member of that line will be Edmonton native James Hamblin, who played for the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors last season.

Woodcroft didn’t indicate how he’ll deploy Ilya Konovalov, Olivier Rodrigue and Ethan Kruger, who are the three goalies in camp.

Forward Jake Chiasson left Friday’s practice favouring his shoulder. Woodcroft didn’t have an update on Chiasson, who was drafted 116th overall out of Brandon earlier this year.

Saturday’s game starts at 5 p.m. at Rogers Place. Fans will be not permitted to attend. The two teams will also play Monday night in Calgary.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

B.C. man in COVID-19 isolation frustrated he won't be able to vote in federal election

What’s more important: The fundamental right to vote, or the quarantine rules amid a global pandemic that’s so far killed more than 4.5 million people?

It’s a question that one B.C. man had never thought of until he recently contracted COVID-19 and was told to quarantine for two weeks.

Dennis Kontos of Salmon Arm said he’ll be in isolation — as per Interior Health rules — until midnight on Tuesday, meaning he won’t be able to vote in Monday’s federal election.

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Kontos said he understands the importance of isolating, but said when he tried reaching out to officials about how to still vote, he got the run-around.

“They’re basically telling me that I’m forfeiting my vote because I can’t go and vote,” said Kontos. “I’m a very strong, stubborn person when it comes down to voting; I think that’s our right to do that.

“I vote every time and I find (this) very unacceptable.”

Kontos said he’s not asking to visit a polling station, “but they should have thought of a plan in advance for this circumstance, and they haven’t.”

He claimed information on Election Canada’s website about voting and COVID-19 directed him to his local health agency, Interior Health, where he asked about alternate ways to vote.

He said Interior Health told him to contact his Member of Parliament. From there, he said he was told to contact Elections Canada, which then again referred him to Interior Health.

“As you can see, we’re going around in circles.”

Kontos said he started feeling sick Sunday night, then went for curbside testing on Monday afternoon.

His test came back positive on Wednesday night, with Interior Health contacting him on Thursday about isolating until Sept. 22.

He said he planned on visiting advanced polls last Monday, but that his plans changed after getting sick.

“Nobody has a solution,” said Kontos. “There are literally thousands of people across the country who are going to be in the same boat as I am — if we got diagnosed before election day on Monday.”

As for requesting a special mail-in ballot, he said the deadline to apply had passed by the time he found out he was sick.

“The only option (after advanced polls and the mail-in ballot deadline) is to vote in person, at the polls,” said Andrea Marantz of Elections Canada. “Of course, that isn’t possible for people who are in isolation.

“It’s not a matter of making a choice. It’s a matter of having to follow the law as it’s written (in the Canada Elections Act).”

Marantz said every year, things happen that prevent people from voting, adding “it is not a circumstance that’s covered in the Canada Elections Act.”

Global News has reached out to Arnold, the Conservative MP for the North Okanagan—Shuswap, for comment.

Read more:
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Meanwhile, Kontos said he wonders why government can do curbside testing for COVID-19, but not curbside voting, and that there should be other alternatives for all such as absentee or online voting.

“They should make exceptions to the rule because we’re all stuck in this vacuum of not being able (to vote) and we don’t know what the next steps are,” he said.

“It’s our constitutional right to vote. That’s what we cherish here in Canada. That’s what we want.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Trial of Niagara officer shot by fellow officer adjourned over witness' possession of SIU files

A judge has adjourned the assault trial Const. Nathan Parker, shot by another police officer in 2018, amid issues around a key witness who had access to content from a related investigation by Ontario’s police watchdog.

On Friday Parker’s counsel continued an action which began the previous day suggesting the cross-examination of Sgt. Shane Donovan may be tainted since he possessed a USB stick received from the Crown when he was a defendant charged with attempted murder.

Judge Anthony Leach closed the days proceedings by asking Donovan to turn over the storage device which contained thousands of pages of statements, photos and recordings from an Special Investigations Unit (SIU) file.

Read more:
Niagara officer who shot Const. Nathan Parker told a court he described him as a ‘bully’ to SIU

The drive was sealed as an exhibit until an application is made by counsel to examine it.

Leach also advised Donovan – still on the stand for cross-examination –  that he is free to obtain independent legal advice and discuss what’s transpired so far in the trial.

“I have ordered a transcript of your evidence for the court so it’ll be available and I’m happy to have a second copy in case you hire a lawyer to give you some advice,” Leach told Donovan.

On Wednesday, counsel Joseph Markson suggested to Leach that Donovan’s possession of the USB stick put his credibility in question since he was just a witness.

Typically, witnesses receive exclusion orders from a judge which limits contact to prevent potential bias in testimony.

“This is an unfortunate development because Sgt. Donovan should never have had possession of the SIU file after the charges were dismissed,” Markson told the court Wednesday.

Donovan received the SIU disclosure data as a tool for his defence when he was charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault and assault with a weapon after shooting Parker 10 times amid an altercation tied to a traffic investigation in 2018.

The Crown would later drop those charges, saying there was no reasonable prospect of conviction.

Leach on day four of the trial acknowledged that Donovan could have access to other people’s statements and materials witnesses don’t usually get.

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“When he accessed those materials and if they influenced his current testimony in the trial are relevant and important issues for the defence. I totally understand that,” Leach told the court.

During Friday’s session, Markson suggested Donovan’s possession of the files “give rise” to a pair of ulterior purposes – to tailor trial evidence as a complainant not a witness and also use it in anticipation of civil litigation.

The Crown’s Jeremy Tatum said their submission was to continue with the cross-examination of Sgt. Donovan suggesting “there is no prejudice against doing so.”

“Constable Parker is entitled to a fair trial, not a perfect one. Two days of trial time have now been lost.”

Tatum went on to say there’s no forgone conclusion that any additional evidence Donovan may have reviewed would impact his credibility as a witness.

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However, Leach suggested that if Parker’s SIU statement shows up on the USB drive and analysis of metadata on the drive reveals Donovan had accessed it, that would be something the defence could challenge.

“So if the USB goes to the defense through whatever route it’s going to go and it shows that he accessed defendant Parker’s statement, that would have, in my view, at least arguably an impact on his credibility,” Leach said.

Parker, 55, has pleaded not guilty in the assault of Donovan prior to being shot in broad daylight on Nov. 29, 2018 on Roland Road and Effingham Street in Pelham, Ont.

The trial is set to resume on Wednesday, Sept. 22 with Sgt. Donovan still in cross-examination.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Oliver, B.C. woman has become town 'pariah' since admitting to stealing $10K from school fund

A  woman who stole at least $10,000 from an Oliver Elementary School fund won’t spend any time behind bars for her crime, but has been in a prison of her own making for far longer.

Belinda Yorke pleaded guilty to theft over $5,000 in February 2020 and on Friday finally found out the cost of that act.  B.C. Supreme Court Justice Harry Slade sentenced her to a two-years-less-one-day conditional sentence, followed by a probation order of one year.

For the duration, she will have to report to a probation officer, must complete intake assessment for treatment programs as directed by her probation officer, she must apologize to the Parent Advisory Committee, in person or by letter.

There will also be a restitution order to the PAC for the $10,000-plus she stole, but it’s unlikely she will ever have to pay it.

“The court recognizes Ms. Yorke’s circumstances, bordering on poverty, and would decline to assign (her) an impossible task,” Slade said. If she were to come into some money, however, then the repayment would kick in.

In sentencing, Slade took into account Yorke’s circumstances. This, he said, was not to “excuse the conduct but to offer insight or explanation about how such a thing could occur for a person who had no criminal involvement or record.”

Read more:
Sentencing delayed for woman who stole Oliver PAC money

 

Yorke’s current condition, he explained,  is far from ideal. She has Fibromyalgia, suffered renal failure, has diabetes and an opioid addiction from medications prescribed to her to alleviate pain. She also has bipolar disorder.

She’s a caregiver not only to her 12-year-old son, but also to her father and her stepmother. Her father has COPD and her stepmother has lost mobility on one side.

And she’s continually immersed in the shame caused by her actions, she said.

“Living in a small town, I have been made aware of my actions any minute of every day,” Yorke, who was the treasurer of the PAC at the time of the theft, said before the judge handed down the decision.

“I don’t leave the house unless I have to … for the last three years since this was publicized I have been housebound with the exceptions of the three errands I run every day.”

Read more:
Okanagan PAC treasurer charged with fraud, theft

She indicated that she understands the contempt that’s been directed at her, but noted her child has also suffered from community judgment by those who have heard of her crime.

“I can’t look at myself in the mirror. For what I’ve done, there will never be forgiveness and I will never move on from it. I am extremely apologetic and remorseful.”

Yorke’s defence lawyer, Michael Patterson, said “she’s made herself a pariah,” in committing the crime.

Yorke stole from the PAC over and over again between 2016 and 2018 when she was caught.

In all,  Crown counsel John Swanson said Yorke is believed to have stolen $10,698.

In June 2016, she was elected to the position of treasurer for Oliver school’s PAC, Crown counsel John Swanson said.

She remained in that role until she resigned in January 2018, following the discovery of numerous fraudulent transactions where she wrote cheques to herself or her husband or failed to deposit cash collected at fundraising events into PAC accounts.

Swanson said Yorke had access to a Valley First Credit Union account for the PAC and access to a separate gaming account, also for the PAC, where provincial gaming grants were deposited. She was also responsible for depositing all cash for numerous fundraising events through the school year held by the pack during the school year.

Some of the fundraising events were relatively small, “like “hot dog sales, cookie dough sales or pop sales at lunch,” Swanson said. “Those would almost be exclusively cash transactions.”

In addition to those transactions, the PAC also had a big yearly fundraiser where there was usually an influx of cash and checks.

To keep on top of it all, the PAC had regular meetings at which Yorke was expected to advise other members of the executive about the financial status of the  PAC.

Swanson said and that’s when her actions started to raise suspicions.

When she was asked questions by other members of the PAC executive, “she failed to give detailed records or lied to them about the amount in the accounts,” he said.

In the summer of 2017, she ran account down the account down to the point where there was only $154 in the account, but Swanson said she told her fellow PAC executive members the account had several thousand dollars in it.

In January 2018, one of the PAC members became suspicious when the details came to light and she went to the bank and got copies of the bank statements.

That’s when they discovered the PAC accounts were not the same as Yorke said at the most recent meeting.

“The member analyzed and found fraudulent withdrawals,” he said. They also realized that cheques from fundraising weren’t going into the accounts.

“(The PAC member) brought thefts to other members of PAC, the school exec, principal and RCMP … the RCMP then created a criminal investigation in 2018 and the same time the provincial gaming policy enforcement branch then assigned a forensic accountant to the gaming account which in turn led to forensic audit of gaming account,” he said.

All investigations found multiple incidents of theft or fraudulent behaviour.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

COVID-19: Ontario NDP wants mandatory vaccine policy for provincial legislature

TORONTO — Ontario’s New Democrats want COVID-19 vaccination to be mandatory for people entering the provincial legislature.

Opposition house leader Peggy Sattler wrote to her counterparts in other parties with her position on Friday.

She says Queen’s Park can’t afford to send “mixed messages” about vaccine efficacy.

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Sattler wants the group to sign a letter to the house Speaker asking for a policy restricting entry to people who are fully vaccinated or have approved medical exemptions.

She says a policy that allows for testing in place of vaccination is not acceptable.

Premier Doug Ford has said all Progressive Conservative caucus members and candidates must be vaccinated against the virus or prove a medical exemption.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

COVID-19: B.C. reports 11 deaths, 768 new cases as hospitalizations near 300

WATCH: B.C. Premier John Horgan was asked by a reporter at a press briefing on Friday about the challenging COVID-19 situation Alberta hospitals are facing and if the province will provide support. Horgan said he has spoken to Alberta Premier Jason Kenny and, "We stand by ready to assist, where we can when we can, but we also have to maintain our ICU capacity at a level that will allow us to continue to have surgeries."

British Columbia reported 768 new cases of COVID-19 and 11 additional deaths on Friday, as the number of patients in hospital hit a four-month high on Friday.

The update left the seven-day average for new cases at 685.

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Of the new cases, 239 were in the Fraser Health region, 83 were in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, 183 were in the Interior Health region, 161 were in the Northern Health region and 102 were in the Island Health region.

Active cases climbed to 6,031.

Read more:
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There were 298 COVID-19 patients in hospital, the highest since May 21. Of them, 136 were in critical or intensive care, the most since May 16.

Just seven of the patients in ICU were fully vaccinated. All of the fully vaccinated ICU patients were over the age of 50.

 

 

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The province recorded a vaccine milestone on Thursday, announcing more than four million British Columbians had received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. That figure represents 86.5 per cent of eligible people and 77.8 per cent of B.C.’s population

Of them, more than 3.65 million people — 78.9 per cent of those eligible and 71 per cent of B.C.’s population — have had two doses.

In the past week, 24.1 per cent of new cases were among fully vaccinated people, while 13.8 per cent of hospitalizations were among fully vaccinated people.

The province says after factoring for age, non-vaccinated people were 35.1 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than those who were fully vaccinated.

There were 20 ongoing outbreaks in acute care or long-term care and assisted facilities.

Since the start of the pandemic, B.C. has reported 1,77954 cases, while 1,888 people have died.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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