Alberta defers $637M in health repairs: Liberals

Posted on 11/09/2018

EDMONTON – Alberta is $637 million behind in maintenance for its hospitals, clinics, and care centres, the opposition Liberals said Monday.

Party leader Raj Sherman said the deficit number was in documents obtained under freedom of information rules.

The total tab comes from buildings across the province, he said, including Edmonton’s troubled Misericordia Hospital.

Just over a week ago, a burst pipe at that facility forcing the cancellation of 126 surgeries and 170 exploratory procedures.

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It’s the latest in a string of infrastructure problems plaguing the 45-year-old west-end hospital. There have been elevator outages, heating and cooling issues and exhaust fumes.

“(The Misericordia) has been run down so much, we actually need a whole brand new hospital,” Sherman told a news conference at the legislature.

“Ten years from now, if this maintenance is not done (across the board), we’re going to have 10 Misericordias that happen all at the same time — and that’s going to put patient care at risk.”

Sherman said the province should take the extra $1 billion a year it is getting in health transfers from the federal government and direct it into health maintenance.

The documents do not list the types of repairs or upgrades needed.

But Parker Hogan, spokesman for Alberta Infrastructure, said any problems that could affect the safety of staff, visitors or patients is taken care of right away.

“If it fails and that impacts the health and safety of that facility, it will be replaced immediately,” said Hogan.

He said current deferred maintenance accounts for three per cent of the total value of all health infrastructure.

Hogan said it’s not a cut and dried issue.

When something like a furnace or a roof hits its targeted end date, it has to be booked at its replacement cost, he said.

“(But) we may be able to make it run for another five years. We may be able to make it run for another two years,” said Hogan.

He said 96 per cent of health facilities have been evaluated as being in acceptable condition, with work being done to bring the other four per cent up to grade.

Foothills General Hospital in Calgary tops the list with almost $81 million in deferred maintenance.

The Misericordia is second at $43 million and Edmonton’s downtown Royal Alexandra Hospital is third at $39 million.

Tips on what to do when confronted by a bear – Saskatoon

Posted on 11/09/2018

REGINA – A healthy bear population in Saskatchewan has environment officials offering tips on what to do when confronted by one of the furry animals.

The most recent encounter happened last week when a man said he was confronted by a bear in La Ronge.

The bear broke off the pursuit when a couple out with their dogs came walking up the street.

That bear hasn’t been caught but another bear in the city was caught in a trap, bringing to six the number that have been captured so far this summer in the northern Saskatchewan city.

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It’s not just in communities where bears have been encountered; they have been known to wander through campgrounds.

“There have been a few encounters this year and we want to ensure residents are taking the necessary precautions when they are out enjoying our parks, campgrounds and natural areas,” said Kevin Callele with the Ministry of Environment.

“Generally bears are attracted by food and if they cannot find food they will often leave the area. Bears that have been fed lose their natural fear for humans.

“When bears start to associate food with humans, they become a nuisance, and potentially dangerous.”

So what do you do if you are confronted by a bear? Officials have these tips:

calmly back away and speak in low tones;do not look directly at the bear;do not run – you can’t outrun a bear;move toward a large structure like a rock or a tree;as a last resort, drop bags/backpacks – it may distract the bear;if attacked, defend yourself – do not “play dead.”

There are steps that can be taken when camping to lessen the chance of a bear encounter:

never cook or eat in a tent;store food in air-tight containers in the trunk of vehicles – never in tents or tent-trailers;don’t leave garbage, scraps, or pet food lying around – place all garbage in containers provided;do not burn or bury scraps;clean fish only at designated fish-cleaning stations;keep pets on a leash – an unleashed dog can aggravate a bear;use a flashlight at night and do not move about the campsite at night unless necessary.

If a bear is encountered, officials say people should contact their local conservation officer or the T.I.P. line at 1-800-667-7561 or by cell phone at #5555.

Province promises to drain lake, as high water threatens homes – Winnipeg

Posted on 11/09/2018

TWIN LAKES BEACH, Man. — Every day Judy Pisclevich wakes up with the fear her home could be damaged again.

“It’s indescribable,” said the Twin Lakes Beach resident.

She has lived along Lake Manitoba her entire life. Now 68, she is living through her worst nightmare.

In 2011 her home was destroyed by water. It was rebuilt and she just moved in this past spring.

Now high waves are whipping up water again as the province pumps more and more water through the Portage Diversion and into Lake Manitoba.

“We need the lake lowered,” she said.

RELATED: 2nd Assiniboine River crest expected Tuesday to Thursday

She wants the province to build a outlet channel at the north end of the lake to take the water out.

Pisclevich has a geotube around her property but it has failed in one spot.

She hopes supersandbags will be able to withstand the waves.

The Manitoba government promised Monday that the province is moving ahead with the construction of a second outlet on Lake Manitoba that will ease flooding in the region.

Waves wash against the temporary dikes at Twin Lakes Beach on Lake Manitoba.

File / Randall Paull / Global News

Sandbags are piled to protect Twin Lakes Beach properties from damage from water driven by wind.

Tamara Forlanski / Global News

An aerial view shows heavy equipment working to protect properties at Twin Lakes Beach on Lake Manitoba on Monday.

Skyview1 / Global News

Work continues on a temporary dike at Twin Lakes Beach on Lake Manitoba.

Skyview1 / Global News

A still from an aerial video shows supersandbags protecting porperty on Lake Manitoba at Twin Lakes Beach.

Skyview1 / Global News

Temporary dikes protect homes at Twin Lakes Beach on Lake Manitoba.

Randall Paull / File / Global News

Temporary dikes protect homes at Twin Lakes Beach on Monday

Randall Paull / Global News

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Emergency Measures Minister Steve Ashton said the construction of a new outlet will cost at least $300 million.

The province is hoping Ottawa will pick up at least some of that tab, he said.

Officials are also providing help to areas such as Twin Lakes Beach, he said.

“We are currently mobilizing … to provide additional resources.”

The floodwater pouring into Manitoba from Saskatchewan over the past week ends up in Lake Manitoba and Lake Winnipeg.

Manitoba spent $100 million after the 2011 flood carving out an outlet that drains water from Lake Manitoba into Lake Winnipeg.

The province is expecting a second crest of floodwater to move through the southern region this week as the province starts to focus on recovery.

The second crest has moved through Brandon and is expected to hit Portage la Prairie, where a diversion takes two-thirds of the water north to Lake Manitoba, as early as Tuesday. The protection put in place last week is expected to handle the floodwater, emergency officials said.

The province and the military will continue to vigilantly monitor the dikes along the swollen Assiniboine River to pinpoint weak spots or potential breaches, Ashton said.

The province has set up mobile recovery centres in some of the worst-hit areas and officials expect this flood will cost millions in damages to municipal roads and bridges.

— With files from The Canadian Press

How to compost if you live in an apartment or condo

Posted on 11/09/2018

TORONTO – Composting is being embraced by more and more Canadian households as an easy way to divert waste from landfills and produce nutrient-rich compost for your garden.

But what to do if you live in a high-rise without a backyard or curbside composting program?

According to Environment Canada, biodegradable materials, such as food waste, make up around 40 per cent of all residential waste in Canada.

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The agency said diverting organic materials from landfills is “essential” and the environmental benefits of doing so include reducing greenhouse gas emissions and producing “valuable compost,” which can be used in home gardening, agriculture and horticulture industries as well as soil erosion control and landscaping.

Numbers from Statistics Canada show that composting is on the rise in Canada, with 61 per cent of all households participating in some form of composting – that’s nearly double the rate that composted in 1994.

Not surprisingly, people who lived in a single, detached home were way more likely to compost their kitchen waste compared to apartment dwellers (50 per cent vs 22 per cent).

Condo life presents some challenges for those who would otherwise like to compost their kitchen waste, from privately-managed garbage collection systems to an absence of backyard space.

Apartment and condo dwellers who live in buildings that don’t offer a curbside composting program have a few options for joining the composting ranks.

Make your own indoor compost bin

Making your own indoor compost bin is a cheap and flexible way for people to compost in small spaces.

With a few simple materials and tools, you can build your own compost bin in an afternoon.

There are lots of online tutorials that walk you through the process (such as this one here, or here).

Buy an indoor composting system

If you’re not an avid DIY’er, several companies make and sell indoor composting systems, such as Food Cycle Science’s indoor residential composting system and NatureMill’s ECO Series models.

Start a community composting program

If composting in your apartment really isn’t an option, eco-champions recommend canvassing your neighbourhood for places to set up a community compost bin.

Locations for community composters could range from community gardens to municipal property. Environmental organizations, such as Winnipeg non-profit Green Action Centre, offer tips and resources for people wanting to start their own community composting program.

The city of Winnipeg already has a number of community compost sites operating for those unable to compost at home.

Infographic: Composting 101

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