Scorching heat increasing fire danger across B.C.

Posted on 11/09/2018

Searing heat has increased the fire situation in B.C. to high and extreme values are making firefighting efforts all the more challenging.

On Monday, temperatures in Kamloops and Prince George are expected to reach 36 C. On Tuesday and Wednesday it will likely be close to 40 C.

These temperatures are more than 10 C higher than average for the region.

READ MORE: B.C. wildfire grows to 5,000 hectares

“The heatwave we’re having has increased the fire danger rating significantly,” said Navi Saini, a fire information officer for the B.C. Wildfire Management Branch. “So most of the province is sitting at high to extreme danger rating, and about a third of the province is at the extreme and that’s the highest danger rating you can get.”

“It’s definitely the highest we’ve seen in at least four to five years.”

There are 73 active fires in the province, most of which are in the Prince George and Kamloops areas. Over the weekend firefighters responded to 25 new fires.

A map indicating the fire danger across B.C.

Courtesy B.C. Wildfire Management Branch

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“These hot, dry conditions are definitely not conducive to firefighting efforts,” Saini said.

Environment Canada meteorologist Allan Coldwells said that a ridge of high pressure – associated with sunny skies and great weather – is what’s responsible.

“A ridge of high pressure…will typically build a low-level southerly flow that draws air [up] – in this case from the desert southwest U.S. So that’s what’s bringing the heat up.”

Kamloops reached a new high for July 13 with a temperature of 40.3 C. The previous record was 39.4 C, set in 1961.

Of the significant fires, most have been caused by dry lightning strikes, Saini said. On Sunday, the agency responded to 16 new fires, 11 of which were deemed to be human-caused.

WATCH: Osoyoos wildfire contained

On Monday, thunderstorms are expected in the southwestern part of the province, while in the north, high winds are expected. Both factors contribute to an increased fire threat.

Fortunately, no one has been injured during the battle against the flames, but the hot conditions are also taking their toll on firefighters who are walking into flames while battling the elements.

Forest fires rage in Red Deer Creek, B.C.

Courtesy B.C. Wildfire Management Branch

“Hydration and safety is always key,” Saini said. As well as keeping the crews hydrated, they also ensure that crews are taking breaks as necessary.

In Red Deer Creek, three oil and gas camps have been evacuated, affecting 200 people. In Euchiniko, an evacuation order was put in place for a fishing lodge, affecting only two people.

The Kluskus Reserve was also affected after the Wildfire Management Branch suggested that residents evacuate. The Band Council agreed, issuing an evacuation for 66 people.

Temperatures in the interior aren’t expected to drop to near seasonal values until the weekend.

WATCH: Provincial Fire Information Officer Navi Saini has an update on the wildfires burning over the weekend

Magrath triathlon has sweet finish – Lethbridge

Posted on 11/09/2018

It’s a race that almost didn’t happen. The Magrath Triathlon was nearly cancelled after sign up numbers were low. But after a late surge of entries the small town of Magrath pulled off a great Triathlon for the 11th straight year. Shawna Strong’s been helping coordinate the event for the past nine year and says the small town race brings in a unique mix of competitors.

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“There’s groups from Calgary, Toronto. We’ve had competitors as far away as from Atlanta Georgia in some of the years that we’ve done it. it’s pretty amazing to see people come to this town of 2000 people.”

The Magrath Triathlon was appealing to a wide range of skill levels. Both the hardcore and the casual racer, could test their ability with either a sprint distance, or an Olympic distance.

Most of the athletes trained in all aspects before the race, but for some the thought of a long distance swim through open water, was a little a little intimidating. Jon Macneil usually does the bike portion of the Triathlon, but is competing in the full Triathlon this weekend. Macneil hopes race volunteers take the appropriate precautions saying,

“I’m a little nervous about going in the water there. I’m not the best of swimmers, so I’m hoping they do a head count so the same number come out that go in.”

A team as loyal as any to the Magrath Triathlon is the healing mochas. The team of fifteen has been coming to Magrath for the Triathlon the past eight years and say they had to keep the tradition alive,

“When we heard that it was potentially not going to happen this year we took a rampage to get everybody we knew, any stranger, or anybody else and we’re just like, you got to sign up for Magrath.”

Finishing a long race is a fantastic feeling, but at Magrath it’s particularly sweet, says Race Director Shawna Strong,

“We have great Butterhorns at the end of the race, made by a local lady. And actually to be honest that really draws a lot of people here.”

A sentiment echoed by the Mochas,

“Oh! they’re brilliant! That’s why we drive two and a half hours to get here. Those Butterhorns are better than Scottish Shortbread.”

Organizers plan to hold the Triathlon again next year.

Mysterious lights over Vancouver Sunday night was not a UFO

Posted on 11/09/2018

VANCOUVER – No, it wasn’t a UFO…

A spectacular lights and fireworks show over English Bay on Sunday night had lots of people talking, but that display is like no other.

Two planes from Alberta-based Team Rocket took off from Abbotsford and practiced using their pyrotechnics they will display at this year’s Abbotsford International Airshow.

The two planes have fireworks strapped underneath their wings and let loose over English Bay.

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The result was a breathtaking fireworks display as the planes crisscrossed over the city. The typical fireworks show lasts up to five minutes and costs eight dollars, per airplane, per second.

It’s an extremely rare and risky show.

The two pilots fly only a few metres apart at more than 300 kilometres per hour.

But they say they’ve mitigated the risks and the end result is worth it.

“It is the coolest thing,” says Ken Fowler, Team Rocket pilot. “Flying formation at night, it is very difficult. Formation flying with two aircraft is very difficult. Formation at night is that much more difficult. Now to light polytechnics off of our aircraft while we’re doing that can make it extremely difficult.”

“But it is so much fun.”

The light show was documented on social media with people wondering what it was:

The full fireworks display will be launched at the Abbotsford International Airshow on the evening of August 8.

Check out some footage here:

$110 million for doctors to promote cancer screening didn’t help: study

Posted on 11/09/2018

Ontario doctors are handed an annual bonus based on how many of their patients are screened for three cancers. But even with this financial incentive, cancer screening rates aren’t improving, a new study suggests.

Between 2006 and 2010, the Ontario government doled out $110 million in bonuses meant to encourage doctors to screen their patients for cervical, breast and colorectal cancer. A St. Michael’s Hospital study released Monday warns that the payout hardly changed screening rates, though.

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“So if you’ve screened more of your patients, you get a bigger bonus and if you’ve screened less, you get a small bonus. And there’s a threshold you have to meet to qualify for any money at all,” Dr. Tara Kiran, lead researcher and family doctor, told Global News.

“There’s actually very little evidence that pay for performance for family doctors improves quality of care,” she said.

READ MORE: How healthy is your city? 7 findings about Canada’s best and worst cancer-fighting cities

Yet using bonuses to motivate doctors is a tactic governments around the world are using. In the U.K., for example, Kiran said the “biggest experiment” is taking place: 25 per cent of physicians’ income is linked to certain targets they have to reach.

As far as Kiran knows, Ontario is the only jurisdiction in Canada with these preventative care cash bonuses. It started about a decade ago as the provincial government ushered in a string of reforms to primary care.

Kiran’s study tracked screening rates for cervical, breast and colorectal cancer across the province between 2000 and 2010. If doctors tested 60 per cent of their patients eligible for cervical cancer screening, they received $220 a year. If they hit 80 per cent of patients, it rose to $2,200. About 22 per cent of doctors cashed out with an extra $8,400 in 2010 in screening bonuses.

READ MORE: Breast cancer foundation urging women to get screened for disease

But the increase in screening rates was hardly significant: cervical cancer screening increased from 55 to 57 per cent over a decade. Breast cancer screening rates increased from 60 per cent to 63. And screening for colorectal cancer rose from 20 to 51 per cent.

The spike in the colorectal cancer category was expected, though – even before the incentives were phased in, screening was increasing on its own by three per cent each year.

READ MORE: Where $5 million of your Movember fundraising went

So why didn’t the incentives work? For starters, the researchers guess that the bonuses were targeting the wrong doctors – most were already on top of screening patients.

“The theory behind pay for performance is more money is going to motivate doctors to do a better job. But all the doctors I know are motivated to provide excellent care to begin with,” Kiran said.

(In one case, Toronto doctor Dr. Alisa Naiman said the bonus had “no impact” on how she practices. “The problem that I have with pay for performance is that sometimes it’s really about the process of informing somebody to go for it,” she told Global News.)

Instead, it may have to do with lack of the right tools to do a better job. Only 70 per cent of Ontario doctors have electronic medical records, and sometimes they’re not as helpful in keeping tabs on patients.

Patients in the meantime could be declining screening tests because of myths and misconceptions floating around. Others might not want the screening test conducted by their doctor of the opposite sex.

But some programs have helped – reminders that you’re due for a screening test is a good start.

So far, Kiran has shared her findings with the Ontario Medical Association and the province’s health ministry.

Her full study was published Monday afternoon in the Annals of Family Medicine.

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Tributes pour in, as search for missing Calgary family turns to heartbreak

Posted on 11/09/2018

CALGARY- Calgarians are reacting with shock and grief, just hours after Calgary Police said the search for a missing family has turned into a murder investigation.

Five-year-old Nathan O’Brien and his grandparents, Alvin and Kathryn Liknes, have not been seen since June 30. Despite an Amber Alert, hundreds of tips from the public and an exhaustive search, they have not been found.

On Monday, police announced that murder charges were pending against a person of interest in connection with their deaths.

“I, like all Calgarians, am terribly saddened to learn about the murder charges that were laid today related to the missing persons investigation in our community,” said Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, in a statement. “My heart goes out to the Liknes and O’Brien families, and I know that they will continue to have the support they need from all of us at this very difficult time. My thanks go to my colleagues at the Calgary Police Service and the women and men of the RCMP for their hard work on this investigation.”

A memorial in front of the Liknes’ home.

Global News / Reid Fiest

Flowers on the Liknes’ front porch.

Craig Hooper/Global News

A memorial in front of the Liknes’ home.

Gary Bobrovitz/Global News

A mother and her son at a memorial for a missing Calgary family.

Gary Bobrovitz/Global News

Prime Minister Stephen Harper also extended his condolences:

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People began visiting the Liknes’ Parkhill home on Monday, shortly after the police news conference. Flowers were left on the front porch, in a tribute to the family.

“I have a grandson his age, so, you know, it’s heartwrenching,” said neighbour Tim Taylor. “I can’t imagine what they’re going through. The whole thing is just a terrible, terrible situation.”

“It’s obviously hard for everyone,” adds neighbour Natalie Stevenson. “Everyone’s pretty upset over it and this is a really family-oriented community.

“To have such a young child taken from a home here is really horrifying.”

Green ribbons also line area streets, in a sign of solidarity.

Green ribbons line a street in Parkhill in support of the missing family.

Police Chief Rick Hanson said news that murder charges have been laid have devastated the family.

“Unfortunately with the laying of the charges, we’ve taken that hope away from the family. So they’re devastated,” he said. “Ultimately we want to be able to find the bodies, so the family can have final closure.”

Nathan’s parents Rod and Jennifer O’Brien both work at Cenovus. The company’s president and CEO Brian Ferguson has released the following statement:

“All of us at Cenovus are deeply saddened by the recent developments in the search for Nathan O’Brien and his grandparents Kathy and Alvin Liknes. My thoughts are with Rod and Jennifer O’Brien, who work for Cenovus. It has been a heart-wrenching two weeks for them, and I can only imagine how devastating this news has been. On behalf of everyone at Cenovus, I offer them my deepest sympathy and condolences.”

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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