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Red Deer councillor says she’ll buy bus tickets to get homeless out of town

And Coun. Vesna Higham said addicts should be kept in a fenced enclosure after visiting a downtown safe injection site, right across the street from a Safe Harbour homeless shelter.




A Red Deer councillor is so frustrated at the city’s homeless population she’s willing to buy them bus tickets to Calgary and Edmonton to kick them out of town.

And Coun. Vesna Higham said addicts should be kept in a fenced enclosure after visiting a downtown safe injection site, right across the street from a Safe Harbour homeless shelter.

“I’m so frustrated I’m at the point where I’d be willing to consider buying a bus ticket to Calgary or Edmonton for people in our community who for whatever reason won’t or cannot abide by such simple and basic expectations,” Higham said in an interview with the Western Standard.

She described the area surrounding the shelter and injection site as strewn with garbage and a hotbed of crime.

“Why can’t they be fenced in while they are high,” asked Higham, adding the shelter could go a long way to “being a good neighbour” by imposing an 8 p.m. curfew on its residents.

She said the shelter usually is home to 60-80 homeless people a night.

“After using the site they spill out into the surrounding neighbourhoods. We have been sent videos where they are just out of their mind, a serious threat,” Higham said.

She said a residential area is only a block away, as are recreation trails.

“There a lot of conflict. Businesses have been complaining for years. Recently there was a crime spree that saw five or six businesses having their windows smashed in,” she said.

“People are terrorized on a daily basis. People are coming and going out of the shelter at all hours of the night … for what you assume is criminal activity. They are criminal predators.”

Higham said despite the shelter being warned several months ago, they have seen no change in behaviour or the amount of garbage.

“It’s never been as bad as it has over the last three-five years. The status quo can not continue,” she said.

The city granted the shelter a four-month extension, and Higham hopes to see steps taken to clean up its act.

And the province – which Higham said contributed to the problem for decades, with chronic under funding for things like infrastructure – has shelled out $5 million for a drug treatment centre scheduled to open in spring 2022.

She said the homeless situation has caused businesses and families to flee the downtown core and move to the suburbs.

“People will say you can’t impose expectations on them because they are traumatized. I realize they are a slave to their addiction, but they seem capable of doing simple things,” said Higham.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

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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  1. Ronnie

    May 28, 2021 at 5:32 pm

    Wow! Great representative – NOT. Could the safe injection site be the issue??? Just sayin….
    We all know that homelessness is growing. And it is an “issue” everywhere. But that is no excuse for such a inhumane viewpoint. What kind of person would fence in people? What kind of person would “ship” them off to neighboring cities. These people have problems. Are you part of the problem?? Good Lord! These are people!! Some are good, some are bad. Just like some of my neighbors, AND just like some of my city councilors. Wow! Just Wow! Figure out the problem!! I believe that you are one of the few left in RD that are still on a payroll, and are able to do a job. So do it with some finesse.

  2. Maureen Sokolovsky

    May 28, 2021 at 10:58 am

    Ralph sent them to BC

  3. Timothy Boyle

    May 28, 2021 at 10:46 am

    Well what a great idea, one which Edmonton and Calgary should adopt immediately and where better to send their homeless than to Red Deer which is only a cheap bus ticket away…

  4. Penny4YourThouhts

    May 28, 2021 at 9:26 am

    Wow. Who is this woman and why did anyone vote her in?

  5. Rose

    May 27, 2021 at 2:02 pm

    Uh no… don’t dump your trash in my backyard.
    Its Red Deer’s problem to solve, not ours.

  6. K

    May 27, 2021 at 1:23 pm

    Says the one with meth teeth. Freak.

  7. berta baby

    May 27, 2021 at 12:20 pm

    First they came for the churches, then the homeless… I get where she’s coming from but you can’t push cancel culture and PC BS for years then say that kind of thing and expect to get away with it.

    Fun fact China rounded up and exterminated their homeless before the 2008 Olympic Games… maybe communist kenney put her up to it??

  8. Dana Sharp-McLean

    May 27, 2021 at 12:10 pm

    Sending one community’s problems to another community does not address the issues that created the problems in the first place. Why should Calgary or Edmonton have to deal with Red Deer’s problems in addition to all the folks they are already struggling to serve? Seek first to understand.

  9. Marie Kuzek

    May 27, 2021 at 11:51 am

    Are u nuts. What can you possibly be thinking.

  10. Josh

    May 27, 2021 at 11:50 am

    Isn’t that what the Nazi party of Germany did. Round up the undesirables and fence them in?.

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Road closures as British Columbians brace for more rain

Closures will impact Highway 1, Highway 3 and Highway 99 on Saturday.




As BC braces for additional rain, the government has ‘proactively’ closed a number of highways for travel.

“We are actively responding, monitoring and assessing the many highway closures due to flooding and will continue to do so as we work with local and emergency service partners,” said the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.

“Safety is our top priority while we deal with a rapidly changing and difficult situation.”

Closures will impact Highway 1, Highway 3 and Highway 99 on Saturday. The ministry said the time and duration of the closures will be weather-dependent.

“The highway infrastructure in these areas is extremely vulnerable following recent storms, and more heavy rain in the forecast poses an additional risk,” said the ministry in a press release.

“The closures of these three highways will be re-evaluated on Sunday morning, with the highways reopened when it is safe to do so.”

The release said Highway 1 will be closed between Popkum and Hope on Saturday afternoon as BC Hydro plans a reservoir release, “crucial to protect the Jones Lake Reservoir, which is also being affected by the heavy rains.”

The release explains the reservoir release will discharge water towards areas of Highway 1 that were affected during the November 14 storm.  

“This additional flow – combined with the increased precipitation and already high stream flows – poses a risk of impact to Highway 1 in the Laidlaw area.”

The ministry is bracing for further damage to Highway 1 in this area and said the reopening time cannot be determined at this stage but will be assessed by crews “when it is safe to do so.”

Highway 7 between Mission and Hope remains open with travel restrictions in place. Essential purposes for travel are defined in the travel restrictions order through the Emergency Program Act

Weather statements are in effect for Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, Squamish to Whistler and the Sunshine Coast into next week. Storms are expected to bring more rain which has resulted in high streamflow advisories for all regions of the coast by the River Forecast Centre.

Ongoing road and travel updates are available on the ministry’s website.

Melanie Risdon is a reporter with the Western Standard

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Bill to aid jurors traumatized by testimony up for vote … again

Bill C-206 would amend a 1972 secrecy law to permit jurors to disclose confidential details of deliberations for the purpose of “medical or psychiatric treatment or any therapy or counselling.”




For the third time in three years, legislators will attempt to pass an aid bill for jurors traumatized by graphic testimony in criminal courts.

“When we ask citizens to be a juror we don’t ask them to be a victim,” said Quebec Senator and bill sponsor Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu.

“There is no excuse not to adopt that bill.” 

Bill C-206 would amend a 1972 secrecy law to permit jurors to disclose confidential details of deliberations for the purpose of “medical or psychiatric treatment or any therapy or counselling,” said Blacklock’s Reporter.

Two identical bills, S-207 and C-417, lapsed in the last two Parliaments.

“That kind of bill should be a government bill, not a private bill,” said Boisvenu.

“I don’t think it’s a matter of private interest. It’s a matter of national interest.”

In 2017, the Commons justice committee recommended the Criminal Code amendment after hearing testimony from former jurors who said they quit jobs, suffered marriage breakdown and were diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after being compelled to watch crime scene videos and hear testimony from coroners.

“Everyone’s mental health matters,” Ontario Senator Lucie Moncion said Thursday.

“Yet from a legal point of view, jurors are part of a special category of people who are denied complete health care. The secrecy rule prohibits a juror from disclosing information related to deliberations to anyone including a health care professional. This needs to change.”

Moncion was a juror in a 1989 murder trial and said the experience left her with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

“They show you the whole autopsy,” said Moncion.

“It was very difficult. This is still very difficult for me.”

Alberta Conservative MP Michael Cooper, a member of the 2017 Commons justice committee that recommended reforms, said delays were inexcusable.

“It should have been a no-brainer for the government to have brought this bill forward,” said Cooper indicating the bill has been “studied thoroughly.”

“There have literally been no arguments tendered against this piece of legislation.”

Cooper, in 2019, sponsored a similar bill – C-417 – that lapsed. MPs at the time noted U.S. jurors were free to discuss their experience with friends, family, psychiatrists or media.

“In the United States once a trial is over jurors are generally free to discuss the events of the trial and jury deliberations unless a specific court order bars them from doing so,” said Ontario Liberal MP Arif Virani, then-parliamentary secretary for justice.

“What that means is that jurors in the United States can talk with nearly anyone about juror deliberations including a talk show host on national television or across the Internet. This approach, which offers limited protection for juror privacy, is significantly different from the Canadian model.”

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Lock-down ignoring party host arrested again in Vancouver

“Let this be a lesson to anyone who thinks the rules don’t apply to them,” said Sergeant Steve Addison, VPD.




A man arrested by the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) earlier this year for running a “makeshift nightclub” from his downtown penthouse has been convicted of new charges.

Mohammad Movassaghi was initially sentenced to 18 months probation in April, along with 50 hours of community service after pleading guilty in BC provincial court on counts of violating a public health order and selling liquor.

The 43-year-old man hosted hundreds of party-goers to his 1,100 square-foot penthouse near Richards Street and Georgia Street, equipped with cash machines, menus, and doormen.

VPD officers arrived at one of the parties on January 31 after a “witness” reported the event. One of the alleged doormen was issued several fines, however Movassaghi refused to open the door and was defiant with police. Officers returned early Sunday morning with a search warrant and subsequently issued over $17,000 in fines for violations contrary to the Emergency Program Act.

Large quantities of cash were seized as well.

“Let this be a lesson to anyone who thinks the rules don’t apply to them,” said VPD Sgt. Steve Addison, following the January 31 arrest.

“If you are caught hosting or attending a party during the pandemic, and continue to break the rules, you could face stiff fines or wind up in jail.”

Of Addisons’ top concerns was the fact that “none of them were wearing masks.”

A GoFundMe was set up shortly after Movassaghi’s arrest, which stated he’d lost $15,000 in cash and liquor.

The campaign was shut down before it reached $300.

Judge Ellen Gordon compared Movassaghi’s actions with those of a drug dealer, specifically fentanyl — a synthetic opioid 100 times stronger than morphine. Her logic being COVID-19 can kill people, and so can fentanyl. Therefore there is “no difference.”

“What you did, sir, is comparable to individuals who sell fentanyl to the individuals on the street who die every day. There’s no difference. You voluntarily assumed a risk that could kill people in the midst of a pandemic,” said Gordon.

Fast forward to August and Movassaghi had violated the court orders again when he began hosting more parties in his penthouse, prompting a second VPD investigation leading to his arrest on Wednesday night.

He has since plead guilty of two counts of failure to comply with an order of the health officer and one count of selling liquor, says VPD.

Movassaghi has now been sentenced to 29 days in custody, 12 months of probation, and a $10,000 fine — leaving many wondering if he will switch up the location for his next party, possibly somewhere more discreet.

Reid Small is a BC-based reporter for the Western Standard

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