Monthly Archives: June 2019

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Westmount parents hold ‘swim-in’ to protest pool schedule

WESTMOUNT – Some parents are making waves over pool restrictions at the Westmount recreation centre.

A peaceful protest was staged Tuesday evening in opposition to adults-only swimming hours at the facility.

“Unfortunately, a petition, visits to city council, numerous emails and so on have not worked, so we’re trying something different this time,” said Angela Lehrer, who organized the swim-in.

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“We’re trying to get as many families as possible to come, hang out and show support for what we call ‘share the pool.’”

The current schedule at the pool has adult-swim three times a day, five days a week.

The other two days, adults have two sessions alone.

Lehrer, a mother of three, said one of the issues she has is with the timing.

The evening adult-only swim at 6:30 p.m. falls at a time when many young families want to take their children to the pool.

“Demographics of Westmount are changing, and most people are dual-income families and they want to be here after work with their kids,” she said.

Tuesday at 6:30 p.m., when it was time for adult-only swim, kids stayed in the pool.

Lehrer explained it’s part of her “share the pool” concept.

She believes all adult-only times can be shared with children, with some restrictions.

But not everyone is on board with that idea.

“There’s less and less time for adults; it’s all becoming about families and kids and there’s a lot of people like myself that don’t have children,” said Westmount resident, Johanna Stosik.

“So I think that it would be really nice to have no kids on deck every now and again – the way it’s always been because you could just kind of relax.”

The other fire heroes: meet the Alberta Wildfire management team

As the Fort McMurray wildfire raged, firefighters could be seen working tirelessly to battle the blaze.

At the same time, another group of people was also working tirelessly, behind the scenes, managing the provincial response.

Their jobs differ greatly from the widely-celebrated firefighters and air tanker pilots who were on the front lines, but the stresses faced by people like fire weather meteorologists and logistical coordinators were profound during those first weeks of May.

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    Every day of the wildfire season, two weather briefings take place to inform employees of the risks posed by Mother Nature. During the first week of May, Paul Kruger led the team responsible for making the forecast.

    “Any time you don’t get any rain in the last two weeks of April, you’re starting to think there could be some sort of problem somewhere in the province,” Kruger said.

    He and his colleagues knew there was the potential for a big fire incident, but without an actual ignition it’s impossible to tell where. Once the fire started south of the Fort McMurray, they made their best recommendations of how the weather would impact its growth.

    The conditions were explosive, unlike anything he’d seen.

    “Maybe that might be the one thing that I’ve never seen, just how dry the whole layer of atmosphere was,” Kruger explained.

    READ MORE: Fort McMurray wildfire officials receive heroes welcome at Alberta legislature 

    As Fort McMurray residents fled the inferno, the importance of Kruger’s forecasts grew. It was the kind of stress he’d experienced just a couple of other times in his 20 years with Alberta Wildfire.

    “Yeah, you’re taking it home and then I am trying to think of other ways to get my mind off of it because my decisions have been made so I am hoping that I did the best job that I possibly could with the information that I had,” Kruger said.

    On the other side of the building Kruger works in, a situation room is full of cubicles, monitors and professionals who use his forecast to make critical decisions.

    “It’s coordinating basically all of the resourcing and actions controlled by this room,” Cory Davis explained. “So aircraft and manpower and logistics and priority setting for the province.”

    As the provincial Wildfire Operations Coordinator, it is Davis’ job to manage over 200 aircraft and thousands of front line firefighters. He admits that other than being on the front line of the firefight itself, it’s the most demanding job he’s ever held.

    “Because you are moving a lot of resources and trying to fill the needs of the fire and the needs of areas as quickly and efficiently as possible,” Davis explained. “And just having that stress of trying to get what they need when they need it and not always being able to succeed with it.”

    While Fort McMurray was burning, there were several other wildfires burning out of control. Imagine having to decide what areas should receive help first.

    “We’re always faced with stressful scenarios, whether it’s 100 fires out in the middle of nowhere in the bush to one fire threatening a major community,” Davis explained.

    READ MORE: Fort McMurray wildfire timeline of events 

    He doesn’t credit himself for his department’s success, but rather the team that supported him.

    “It always tends to be a stressful environment and we work so closely together and (such) long hours that we become a pretty close and tight-knit family.”

    Wildfire manager Chad Morrison shared all of these stresses in addition to being the spokesperson for Alberta Wildfire during the disaster.

    “You know that the fire is just outside the town and evacuations have been called,” Morrison recalled. “Those are big moments for everybody… you feel just during that whole experience how much it’s impacting people.”

    “There’s a lot of work and training that goes into getting prepared for these types of things and even with that training, it never truly prepares you for these types of historic events.”

    Morrison’s updates had the power to mobilize families and corporations into action.

    “Trying to get information out to the public is a huge, key thing,” Morrison explained.

    Yet when asked if he thinks he should also be called a hero, Morrison deflected the praise onto all of his colleagues.

    “Doing these types of events are humbling experiences as a whole, fire tends to be that way,” he said.

    “What I think is so rewarding is just seeing how everyone pulls together… seeing Albertans as a whole pull together and do what they can to bring Fort McMurray back.”

Labour board could set precedent for Saskatchewan employers and unions

A Saskatchewan Labour Relations Board ruling on if supervisors should be excluded from a Saskatoon union could set a precedent for employers moving forward, according to a University of Saskatchewan (U of S) law professor.

In mid-June, the Saskatoon Public Library submitted to the board that 28 of its supervisory positions be excluded from its employee’s bargaining unit. Similar action has taken place with the City of Moose Jaw.

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    “I think these first two or three applications are going to be key in determining what’s going to happen in Saskatchewan labour relations,” said Keir Vallance, a U of S assistant law professor who formally practiced labour law.

    “If the board comes down … against exclusion, that may put a brake on other employers bringing these types of applications, if the board allows them you may see even more applications than expected of this sort.”

    READ MORE: Saskatoon library supervisors being removed from union

    The action stems from the Saskatchewan Employment Act, which states that supervisors should not be in a bargaining unit. Vallance said the measure is unique to Saskatchewan.

    The legislation came into effect in April and employers can now act to remove supervisors or keep their bargaining units status quo.

    “For supervisors to be in the same bargaining unit as the people they supervise, sometimes that can create a conflict,” said Carol Cooley, the Saskatoon Public Library CEO.

    “If there’s a performance management issue that comes up, that can create a tension for a supervisor who is in the same bargaining unit as the people they’re trying to manage.”

    READ MORE: New year brings changes to Sask. essential services legislation

    The union that represents Saskatoon Public Library workers is CUPE Local 2669. Rhonda Heisler advises the group and said the action is unnecessary.

    “Supervisors are able to draw the distinction between their job descriptions and their union affiliation,” said Heisler, who is a servicing representative with CUPE.

    Heisler said there are mechanisms in place to assist a supervisor who “does feel conflict about supervising another union member.”

    “Historically this has always worked for us.”

Istanbul airport attack: Air Canada halts service to Ataturk Airport

A terrorist attack at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport which has left dozens of people dead has forced Air Canada to halt operations to and from the Turkish city.

“As a result of events in Istanbul, today’s flight, due to leave Toronto this evening, has been cancelled and tomorrow’s return flight from Istanbul, on the same aircraft, is also cancelled,” Peter Fitzpatrick, Air Canada spokesperson, told Global News.

Fitzpatrick said Air Canada has been in touch with all of its employees in Istanbul and determined they are safe. The airline runs daily service to Istanbul.

WATCH: More from Istanbul

Security camera appears to show moment of explosion inside Istanbul Airport


Security camera appears to show moment of explosion inside Istanbul Airport


Dozens dead and dozens more injured after two explosions at Istanbul’s airport


Travellers at Istanbul airport take cover from explosions, gunfire


Aftermath video of twin bomb explosions at Istanbul’s airport

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“As more information becomes available, we will assess when normal operations can resume,” Fitzpatrick said.

So far there have been no reports of any Canadians killed or injured in the attack, Global Affairs said in a statement to Global News.

READ MORE: Istanbul airport attack: Dozens dead, possible links to ISIS

“The Emergency Watch and Response Centre and our offices in Ankara and Istanbul are closely monitoring the situation and are working to determine if Canadian citizens have been affected,” the statement said.

“To date, we have no reports of any Canadian citizens being affected by the incidents.”

Saskatoon police tactical support unit call-outs climb as high risk incidents rise

Every time they respond, they are putting their lives on the line for the safety of the public and other officers.

The need for the Saskatoon Police Service tactical support unit (TSU) is on the rise as more high risk and often violent incidents involving guns continues to climb.

READ MORE: Patrolling from the sky: An inside look at Saskatoon’s Air Support Unit

In a warehouse on 33rd Street East, we are invited to watch them in action as they play out a domestic violence scenario.

Simply put, they are the team that hopes for the best and plans for the worst.

According to Sgt. Ken Kane with the TSU, that involves training so when members are called to a risk or weapons complaint, everything is just second nature.

“We want to make sure when that time comes and we have to go into a situation like this that we are fully prepared to make sure we can hopefully bring it to a peaceful resolution,” he said.

“That’s why we train twice a month to make sure those skill sets are there when we need them.”

The TSU is a part-time team, made up of members whose primary duties lie somewhere else within the force.

“Everyone except for three are assigned to patrol division so we have a total of 22 members on the team, two of whom are canine handlers who are trained to a tactical standard as well.”

On any given shift, there will be two or three members for when crisis calls come in and inevitably – they do.

WATCH BELOW: Police release dramatic rescue video and tools used to diffuse standoff

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    In his 15 years with the team, Kane says calls have risen from 15 to 20 a year to more than 100 last year alone.

    “With the growth of the city, the drug trade and the good economy, I think it’s just led to more violence in the city.”

    READ MORE: Busy weekend for Saskatoon police with almost 1,000 calls

    The average tactical team call-out costs costs $8,000 and many times if the armoured rescue vehicle isn’t on-site, it’s right around the corner in case its needed.

    To date, patrol officers have responded to 34 high risk or violent situations this year and each was resolved successfully with the assistance of the TSU.

    “We will isolate, contain and negotiate for as long as it takes,” Kane said.

    “I think it comes down to training, patience and experience.”

    Negotiators often do the “heavy lifting” by talking the suspect down for as long as it takes, at times up to 11 hours.

    “Any time we walk away from one of these situations where the suspect is in custody, there’s no use of force and no one in the public or any police members are hurt, that’s a win for us.”