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Sweetgrass and CFWE news - May 19, 2016

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Compiled by Shari Narine







TransMountain report to come from NEB

May 19, 2016. The National Energy Board is set to release its report Thursday on Kinder Morgan’s proposed expansion for its TransMountain crude pipeline. NEB is expected to recommend approval by the federal government but with numerous conditions. Last summer, the board released a list of 145 draft conditions meant to enhance safety and consultation with local communities, but obtaining consent from First Nations was not among them. Earlier this week Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr named a three-person panel that will take six months to conduct consultations on NEB’s recommendations and then report to the government in November. Members of the panel are Kim Baird, former Chief of the Tsawwassen First Nation; University of Winnipeg president Annette Trimbee, a former deputy minister in Alberta; and former Yukon premier Tony Penikett, who now works as a mediator on First Nations negotiations. Carr says his government will make a decision on the project by year’s end.

Rocky Mountain House RCMP make arrest following school lockdown


May 19, 2016. A 16-year-old male was arrested after an incident that resulted in the early morning lockdown Wednesday of West Central High School in Rocky Mountain House. RCMP received a report of a suspicious male seen with firearms near the high school. The lock down occurred as a precautionary measure while the RCMP, including General Investigation Section and Police Dog Services, searched the school, which was cleared. Investigation led the RCMP to determine that the suspicious male had stolen a truck from a location in Rocky Mountain House. The truck contained two firearms. One stolen rifle was recovered from the abandoned truck but another rifle remains missing. After extensive searching, including assistance from the public and RCMP Police Dog Services, a 16-year-old male was located and arrested without incident.  Numerous criminal code charges are pending against the youth, who cannot be named by the RCMP. The second stolen firearm was recovered by the RCMP.  

New Independent Environmental Monitoring act lacks independence, says Swann


May 18, 2016. Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann is concerned that Bill 18, the Act to Ensure Independent Environmental Monitoring, consolidates too much authority in the Ministry of Environment and provides no independent oversight. “This is the very circumstance which caused the creation of an independent body in the first place,” said Swann referring to the Alberta Environmental Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Agency. “If the minister is determined to move AEMERA back into the ministry, the corresponding legislation must provide independence from ministry interference. Bill 18 does not perform that function.” Bill 18 has the minister appoint the chief scientist and the new members of the scientific panel. The chief scientist reports to the deputy minister and chooses his own schedule for reporting to the public.



Detailed new images of wildfire-damaged areas available


May 18, 2016. High resolution images from multiple angles will allow residents more accurate information about fire damage to their homes in Fort McMurray. This high-resolution imagery may provide enough detail to assist property owners with insurance claims, eligibility funding and other recovery actions, for both damaged and lost properties. Minister of Municipal Affairs Danielle Larivee says the images may be difficult for some. “I’ve seen the devastating effects a fire has on a community and I know how difficult it can be to view those images. I urge affected residents to seek out the emotional and mental-health supports they need,” she said. Residents needing support should call Alberta’s 24-hour Mental Health Help Line at 1-877-303-2642.



Minimum wage consultations ahead


May 18, 2016. The province will hold focused consultations over the next month with key stakeholders, including employers, social service organizations and low-income earners, to discuss future increases in minimum wage, meal and lodging deductions, and the phase-out of the differential liquor server rate. “We’re committed to bringing Alberta’s general minimum wage up to $15 per hour to give lower-income Albertans the ability to support their families. We want to take the time to listen to the people directly involved and make sure we get this right,” said Labour Minister Christina Gray. Approximately 59,000 Albertans earn minimum wage, with 61 per cent of those being female. An hourly minimum wage is $11.20 for most employees, although there are some variations depending on specific jobs. Over 300,000 Albertans earn $15 per hour or less, with over 33,000 being single parents.