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Welcome to Stage 2, Alberta

The move comes two weeks after 60% of Albertans age 12-plus received at least one dose of vaccine and with COVID-19 hospitalizations well below 500 and still falling.

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It’s a day many Albertans have been waiting for, as the province enters Stage 2 of the government’s COVID-19 recovery plan.

The move comes two weeks after 60% of Albertans age 12-plus received at least one dose of vaccine and with COVID-19 hospitalizations well below 500 and still falling.

“With more than 67% of eligible Albertans vaccinated with a first dose, a fully reopened Alberta is within our sight. We are putting the worst of this pandemic behind us for good and moving into a bright summer and an even brighter future. If you haven’t booked your appointment yet, please arrange to get your first dose today so we can be fully open for summer,” said Premier Jason Kenney in a statement.

As of Thursday the new rules are:

  • Outdoor social gatherings increase to 20 people, with distancing.
  • Indoor and outdoor wedding ceremonies may occur with up to 20 attendees. Receptions are permitted outdoors.
  • Indoor and outdoor funeral services remain unchanged with up to 20 people permitted. Receptions are permitted outdoors.
  • Restaurants may seat tables with up to six people, indoors or outdoors.
    • Dining parties are no longer restricted to households only.
    • Physical distancing and other restrictions still apply.
  • Retail capacity increases to one-third of fire code occupancy.
  • Capacity for places of worship increases to one-third of fire code occupancy.
  • Gyms and other indoor fitness facilities open for solo and drop-in activities with three-metre distancing between participants and fitness classes may resume with three-metre distancing.
  • Indoor settings may open with up to one-third of fire code occupancy, including indoor recreation centres. This includes arenas, cinemas, theatres, museums, art galleries and libraries.
  • Indoor and outdoor youth and adult sports resume.
  • Youth activities, such as day camps, overnight camps and play centres, may resume.
  • Personal and wellness services can resume walk-in services.
  • Post-secondary institutions can resume in-person learning.
  • The work-from-home order is lifted but still recommended.
  • Outdoor fixed seating facilities (e.g., grandstands) can open with one-third seated capacity.
  • Public outdoor gatherings increase to 150 people (e.g., concerts/festivals).

Indoor masking regulations will remain in place the next two weeks, at least.

Stage 3 is expected to begin in late June or early July.

The City of Calgary announced it would re-open public recreation facilities beginning Monday, June 14. Participation at the facilities will be available by appointment, with limited capacity.

To book a workout or swim time, visit www.calgary.ca/liveandplay starting June 10 at noon.

On June 14, the following Calgary facilities will re-open:

  • Aquatic and fitness facilities:
    • Canyon Meadows Aquatic & Fitness Centre
    • Glenmore Aquatic Centre
    • Inglewood Aquatic Centre
    • Killarney Aquatic & Recreation Centre
    • Sir Winston Churchill Aquatic & Recreation Centre
    • Thornhill Aquatic & Recreation Centre

Two additional aquatic and fitness facilities will follow on June 21:

  • Bob Bahan Aquatic & Fitness Centre
  • Renfrew Aquatic & Recreation Centre
     
  • Arenas:
    • Father David Bauer and Norma Bush arenas (two ice sheets)
    • Optimist & George Blundun arenas (two dry pads) 
    • Shouldice (one dry pad)
    • Stew Hendry & Henry Viney arenas (two ice sheets)
    • Southland Leisure Centre (two ice sheets)
  • Athletic Parks:
    • Tom Brook Athletic Park
    • Renfrew Athletic Park.
    • Foothills Athletic Park (Open as of June 1)
    • Glenmore Athletic Park (Open as of June 1)
    • New Brighton Athletic Park (Open as of June 1)
    • Optimist Athletic Park (Open as of June 1)
    • Shouldice Athletic Park (Open as of June 1)
  • Calgary Soccer Centre (eight indoor and three outdoor artificial turf fields)
  • Glenmore Sailing School (for sailboat, canoes & kayak rentals)

On June 19, weather dependent, the City will also re-open seven outdoor spray parks and wading pools with limited capacity in alignment with Stage 2:

  • Five Spray Parks:
    • West Confederation Park 
    • Prairie Winds Park 
    • Rotary Park 
    • South Glenmore Park (Variety Park)
    • Valleyview Park 
  • Two Wading Pools:
    • Bowness Park
    • Prairie Winds Park 

Additional facilities will re-open in a phased approach, based on a number of factors including hiring and certifying staff and customer use.

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

News

Civil service mag promotes immunization passports

Any mandatory scheme would see Canadians required to carry proof of vaccination to eat at a restaurant, visit a shopping mall or go to a baseball game, said the magazine.

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A magazine for Canadian public service managers says the country must introduce vaccine passports, says Blacklock’s Reporter.

“The immunity of the population is detrimental for the safe reopening of the economy and various jurisdictions across the world are exploring the idea of immunity certificates as an enabler,” said a commentary in Canadian Government Executive, a periodical published for federal public service managers.

“After a rigorous analysis of the issue of immunity certificates, this article concludes the necessity of immunity certificates in Canada as a key enabler for the safe reopening of the society and economy in a post-Covid world.”

Any mandatory scheme would see Canadians required to carry proof of vaccination to eat at a restaurant, visit a shopping mall or go to a baseball game, said the magazine.

“They can also be used to promote economic activities such as workplace safety, tourism etcetera,” said the periodical.

The magazine acknowledged Canadians were divided on the issue and numerous foreign jurisdictions have banned vaccine passports.

“It is important to note in the United States several states such as Florida, Texas, Arizona etcetera have either banned or prevented the mandatory use,” said the commentary.

Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien in a May 19 statement said vaccine passports breached the Privacy Act since they compelled users and non-users alike to disclose personal health information to access public facilities.

“There must be clear legal authority for introducing use of vaccine passports,” said Therrien, adding Parliament would require “a newly enacted public health order or law” before any mandatory scheme could be introduced.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a January 14 podcast called it a divisive issue.

“I think the indications that the vast majority of Canadians are looking to get vaccinated will get us to a good place without having to take more extreme measures that could have real divisive impacts on community and country,” said Trudeau.

“I think it’s an interesting idea but I think it is also fraught with challenges. We are certainly encouraging and motivating people to get vaccinated as quickly as possible. We always know there are people who won’t get vaccinated, and not necessarily through a personal or political choice.

“There are medical reasons. There are a broad range of reasons why someone might not get vaccinated. I’m worried about creating undesirable effects in our community.”

Federal research shows about 12% of Canadians would refuse a COVID-19 vaccine under any circumstances. A total of 26% said they did not trust the Public Health Agency, according to the Statistics Canada report.

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

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Canada Post to make bank on lending operations

The union said loans would be issued in a test project at post offices in Halifax and Bridgewater, N.S. and surrounding rural areas, as well as Calgary and Red Deer by year’s end.

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“A roll of stamps and $30,000 please.”

That will soon be possible as, for the first time in 53 years, Albertans will be able to go to the post office for a loan.

Blacklock’s Reporter said Canada Post on Thursday confirmed outlets in Alberta and Nova Scotia will broker cash loans for the Toronto Dominion Bank.

“The market test goal is to offer the new financial service in over 249 Canada Post locations before the end of 2021,” the Canadian Union of Postal Workers said in a statement.

Post offices would offer Toronto Dominion loans of $1,000 to $30,000 at “competitive rates.”

Post offices currently sell money orders, gift cards and process electronic cash transfers but disbanded deposit-taking postal banks in 1968.

The union said loans would be issued in a test project at post offices in Halifax and Bridgewater, N.S. and surrounding rural areas, as well as Calgary and Red Deer by year’s end.

“CUPW continues to support the creation of an independent postal bank despite our current partnership with Toronto Dominion Bank,” said the union.

“Partnering with a financial institution does not put an end to the goal of an independent postal bank.”

Parliament in an 1867 Postal Act allowed post offices to hold cash deposits and offer cheque-cashing services. Postal banks at their peak in 1908 held the equivalent of a billion dollars on deposit.

A 2016 Department of Public Works survey found 39% of small business owners nationwide, and 44% on the Prairies, said they would use Canada Post banking services if offered.

The department paid $142,137 for the study by Ekos Research Associates Inc.

“I think Canada Post is very open to increased financial services, not necessarily ‘postal banking’,” Brenda McAuley, national president of the Canadian Postmasters and Assistants Association, said in an earlier interview.

“I think the word ‘banking’ scares a lot of people. The banks don’t think it is necessary.

“There are islands in British Columbia where people have to take a ferry to get to a bank. We will look at pilot projects. I’ve got quite a few places on my radar.”

Canada Post in its 2020 Annual Report said it was “reinventing our retail model” at 6,084 post offices nationwide, including “assessing new financial services and options” mainly in rural Canada.

“Our vast retail network of post offices and dealer outlets across the country provides convenient locations and services with many of them offering evening and weekend hours to meet the changing needs of Canadians,” wrote management.

Jessica McDonald, then-chair of the Canada Post board, in 2018 testimony at the Commons government operations committee said the Crown corporation was “very open-minded” on resuming postal bank services.

“Postal banking has been under a tremendous amount of discussion and continues to be,” said McDonald.

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

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Vancouver’s Stanley Park shut down at night because of fire threat

“The closure is being activated in an effort to reduce the fire risk to the park, which is extreme due to the current drought conditions and sustained heat events.”

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The risk of fire is so extreme in Vancouver’s iconic Stanley Park, officials are to start closing it on a nightly basis.

“The Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation will be temporarily closing all non-essential access to Stanley Park between the hours of 10 pm and 6 am beginning tonight,” said the board in a Friday statement.

“The closure is being activated in an effort to reduce the fire risk to the park, which is extreme due to the current drought conditions and sustained heat events.”

The board said park rangers will set up temporary overnight access control points at five locations.

“The current conditions in Stanley Park are extreme right now and given the size of the park, the risk of a fire breaking out overnight when fewer people may notice it or report it presents a significant threat to the wellbeing of the park, its trees, wildlife, and everyone who relies on the park and its ongoing health,” said Amit Gandha, Director of Park Operations.

“We have been in close contact with our partners at Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services as well as the Vancouver Police Department and they fully support this proactive measure to reduce the risk of a catastrophic fire in the park.”

Vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, and anyone who does not require access to the park will be turned around at access control points. 

Anyone requiring entry into the park during the closure, including the #19 bus, emergency services, patrons, and staff of park businesses, will be permitted to enter through the control points. Individuals who remain in the park after the closure begins will have unrestricted access to leave the park through the control points, said the board.

The access control points will be positioned at the following locations:

  • Traffic circle off Georgia St
  • The corner of Barclay and Park Lane
  • The corner of Beach Ave and Park Lane
  • The south exit of the Stanley Park Causeway
  • The north exit of the Stanley Park Causeway

The Causeway will remain open but access to the seawall will be closed.

The temporary closure will be in effect seven days a week beginning Friday, July 30 and will extend indefinitely until the fire risk has been significantly reduced.

Stanley Park is Vancouver’s largest urban park, with more than 400 hectares of naturalized West Coast forest. The park has approximately half a million trees – mostly cedar, fir, and hemlock – some of which are hundreds of years old.

Hundreds of wildfires are currently burning across BC.

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

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