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EXCLUSIVE: $3-billion project west of Calgary shelved – city hall, NDP board blamed

The backer of a massive $3-billion development to be built just west of Calgary has shelved the project, and they are blaming it partly on the formation of a board the NDP created when they were in power.

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The backer of a massive $4-billion development to be built just west of Calgary has shelved the project, and they are blaming it partly on the formation of a board the NDP created when they were in power.

“We have decided to remove ourselves as a funding group … although we will remain a presence in MD of Rocky View, economically, we have decided to shelve the Gardner project,” Ryan O’Connor, president of Western Securities (WS) wrote in an email to the Kenney government obtained by the Western Standard.

“For the last 16 years, we have tried to obtain approval for a mixed use residential / commercial development with over 2,000 homes and approximately 300,000 sq.ft. of retail / commercial development.  We have even proposed seniors housing and a sports centre. 

“The project would take approximately 15 years to complete and would employ hundreds of people.  When completed, its value would be well over $3 billion, adding significantly to the tax base of Rocky View County.

And Western is laying the blame directly at the city of Calgary and the Calgary Metropolitan Region Board, which controls development in the counties around the city.

“At every turn, Calgary has blocked or bullied Rocky View County from approving the project.  This after us spending millions of dollars on planning and engineering studies.  And now, the Calgary Metropolitan Region Board, with Calgary directing regional planning decisions, is the last straw for Western.,” O’Connor wrote in the letter obtained by the Western Standard.

“Sadly, it isn’t just Calgary.  The urbans of the region vote together to stifle competition from the rurals (mainly due to the fact that Calgary provides water and wastewater to many of them and uses that to influence them to vote Calgary’s way).

“The CMRB was enacted by the NDP.  It is a fourth layer of bureaucracy that is driving investment away. It needs to go. Frankly, it’s not the Alberta way to hold down your neighbours so you can prosper.

“There is a need for regional planning on issues like transportation, waste management, recreation etc., but we do not need a behemoth board like the CMRB to make this happen.  This is an extra layer of red tape that makes Alberta less competitive.”

It’s not the first time a developer has gone against the CMRB. Other developments have battled with them including the Cross Irons Mill mall.

O’Connor said he had hoped for more from the Kenney UCP government.

“We would be delighted to meet with you and discuss this issue further.  I hope you’ll appreciate that we hung in this long hoping your party would win the election.  We believe in all the things Premier Kenney speaks of.  At the end of the day though we have a responsibility to run our business wisely. The time for action is now,” O’Connor ended his letter.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter: Nobby7694

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard and the Vice-President: News Division of Western Standard New Media Corp. He has served as the City Editor of the Calgary Sun and has covered Alberta news for nearly 40 years. dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

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MLA Barnes slams proposal for Alberta chopper changes

The Helicopter Emergency Medical Services Report has 11 recommendations including having just one provincial air rescue operation, Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service (STARS).

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Independent Medicine Hat MLA Drew Barnes is sounding warning bells to the UCP after it received recommendations to centralize air rescue operations under STARS.

The Helicopter Emergency Medical Services Report has 11 recommendations, including having just one provincial air rescue operation, Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service (STARS).

The proposal said STARS would work with other helicopter emergency medical providers to ensure consistent, safe coverage across Alberta. Provincial funding for STARS would rise to 50% of their operating budget from the current 23%.

“This delayed report’s recommendations are not only bad news for prompt, full coverage air ambulance services for hundreds of thousands of southern Albertans, it is also bad policy for all Albertans,” Barnes, the MLA for Cypress-Medicine Hat, told the Western Standard.

“Southern Alberta’s emergency air helicopter ambulance (HALO based in Medicine Hat) can not only provide faster service with fewer stops, but it also operates much more efficiently and allows for operating reliability for the entire province with a second flight Operations Certificate.  

“It is essential all Albertans be treated equitably with government-funded life-saving air ambulance health services, and the UCP government’s refusal to fund southern Albertan’s air ambulance (HALO) the same as STARS must change immediately.”

Currently, Alberta Health Services provides about $8.4 million per year to helicopter emergency medical services funding. Approximately 1,450 helicopter flights take place each year; 7,300 are flown using fixed-wing aircraft.

The government said it will examine the report over the coming months.

The recommendations also include:

  • Legislation: A new air ambulance regulation would establish consistent deployment, operational, clinical and aviation standards.
  • Dispatch integration: The dispatch of STARS would be integrated with other emergency medical services to allow for the best use of all services to achieve the most efficient response.

The report can be read here.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694

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Pastor Coates gets GraceLife Church back on Canada Day

The church has been barricaded since early April after a dawn raid by Alberta Health Services and the RCMP.

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It will be a extra-special Canada Day for Pastor James Coates who will get his GraceLife Church back when the Alberta government cuts off the padlocks on his church.

The government confirmed in an e-mail to CityNews Edmonton its restrictions will be dropped July 1, the same day Alberta is dropping all its COVID-19 restrictions.

The church has been barricaded more than two months since an early April dawn raid by Alberta Health Services and the RCMP.

Coates was jailed for more than a month in mid-February because he was defying provincial COVID-19 lockdown orders by holding services at a capacity not authorized by the government.

At two bail hearings, Coates said he refused to abide by conditions that he stop preaching.

After being released from jail, the church continued to see large services, leading to AHS — with the help of the RCMP — raiding the facility and building three fences around it.

While large protests erupted at the walled-off church Coates continued with his services at a secret location, and then posted them on YouTube.

They have since been holding services at undisclosed locations.

Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro personally approved the AHS-RCMP raid and barricading of the Grace Life Church, according to a UCP MLA that spoke to the Western Standard on condition of anonymity. Shandro has denied the story.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694

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China, Russia, Iran call for UN investigation into Canada’s treatment of indigenous peoples

Chinese officials cited the discovery last month of what are believed to be the unmarked graves of 215 children on the grounds of a former residential school in Kamloops.

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A coalition of countries – including China, Russia, Iran and North Korea – is demanding the UN probe Canada’s handling of it’s indigenous peoples.

“We are deeply concerned about the serious human rights violations against the indigenous people in Canada. Historically, Canada robbed the indigenous people of the land, killed them and eradicated their culture,” said Jiang Duan, a senior official at China’s mission to the UN in Geneva.

“We call for a thorough and impartial investigation into all cases where crimes were committed against indigenous people, especially the children.”

CBC report Jiang cited the discovery last month of what are believed to be the unmarked graves of 215 children on the grounds of a former residential school in Kamloops.

Jiang said the probe demand was on behalf of China, Russia, Belarus, Iran, North Korea, Syria and Venezuela.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada is much better than China at dealing with historical injustices.

“The journey of reconciliation is a long one, but it is a journey we are on. China is not recognizing even that there is a problem. That is a pretty fundamental difference,” Trudeau told reporters.

“In Canada, we had a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Where is China’s truth and reconciliation commission? Where is their truth? Where is the openness that Canada has always shown and the responsibility that Canada has taken for the terrible mistakes of the past, and indeed, many of which continue into the present?”

Trudeau pointed out China’s “systemic abuse and human rights violations against the Uyghurs.”

He added Canada’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva Leslie E. Norton delivered a statement on behalf of 44 countries calling for China to allow international observers “immediate, meaningful and unfettered access” to Xinjiang, where the Uyghur minority are based.

“We are gravely concerned about the human rights situation in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region,” said Norton.

“Credible reports indicate that over a million people have been arbitrarily detained in Xinjiang and there is widespread surveillance disproportionately targeting Uyghurs and members of other minorities and restrictions on fundamental freedoms and Uyghur culture.”

His statement was on behalf of countries including Australia, France, Germany, Japan, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694

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