Monthly Archives: April 2019

Lingering impact of smoke on Osoyoos tourism

OSOYOOS —  During the peak of tourism season in Osoyoos, the unexpected heavy smoke that filled the valley caused visitors to cut their vacations short and discouraged others from coming. While this happened at the end of August, the tourism industry is still feeling some effects.

Don Brogan, the general manager at Walnut Beach Resort, says he was expecting the hote to be nearly full but once the smoke rolled in, the occupancy rate dropped down to 35-40 per cent.

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“From the 21st of August of when the fires started, my business just tanked,” he says. “When the valley was filled with smoke, 40 per cent of my arrivals cancelled at that moment and then each day after that — the Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday — we were running 10 to 20 cancellations calling in saying ‘No, we’re not coming, not coming.’”

The owner of Lakeview Motel, Derrick Davies, saw a 30 per cent financial hit because of the smoke. He’s taking the loss in stride.

“Yes, being 30 per cent down, it does make a terrific difference to the bottom line,” he says. “That’s what running a business is: you’ve got to take the good and the bad.”

Destination Osoyoos, the organization that promotes tourism in the town, estimates there were about 30-40 per cent fewer overnight guests compared to August 2014.

The effects of that are now spilling over to the organization, which relies on a 2 per cent hotel tax it receives every time a guest checks into one of the hotels or motels.

With last month’s lower-than-expected occupancy rate, it estimates a $30,000 loss.

“It doesn’t mean we won’t be able to deliver all that we want to deliver, it just means we may have to cut back on how much we were going to spend on that campaign,” says Gail Scott, the managing director at Destination Osoyoos.

Scott was also hoping to hire a third full-time staff member to oversee visitors’ services and administration, but says that likely won’t be happening this year.

But there is some good news anticipated for the tourism town.

With the low Canadian dollar, Osoyoos is anticipating to have a higher-than-average number of visitors come to stay over the winter.

However, hotel and motel owners aren’t expecting to recover what was lost during those 10 smokey days during prime tourist season.

“Even if you sold out your hotel, you wouldn’t come anywhere near the revenue that you’d get in July or August numbers,” says Brogan.

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Too many Sask. moms drink during pregnancy

REGINA – One in every 100 babies born in Canada has some form of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). However, more troubling is that in Saskatchewan that rate is estimated to be even higher.

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“Anywhere from two to five per cent of babies born in Saskatchewan have FASD,” said Lisa Workman, the chair of the Regina FASD Community Network. That compares to one per cent nationally. “It says that we have an issue with addictions in our province.”

On International FASD Awareness Day, a group of people in Regina want more of us to start talking about the disorder. Dozens of people walked along 5th Avenue over the noon-hour Wednesday in a show of support for people living with the disorder.

“My mom drank when she was having me,” said Simon Moccasin, a participant in the walk. He was only diagnosed with FASD in 2007 at the age of 33. “It didn’t affect the intellectual part of my brain as much but the other side, like behavioural, thought patterns, speech at times.”

“Generally, I consider it an invisible disability. You can’t assume that just because a person looks like they have FASD or because a person looks normal, they don’t have FASD,” said Workman.

Tanya Bunnie’s 30-year-old sister has FASD. Their mother has passed away, so Bunnie and her family have taken over the responsibility of caring for her.

“We went through hard times and how to deal with the disorder,” said Bunnie. “Growing up with it we didn’t really know very much and health nurses would only tell us so much. It was kind of a thing we had to learn.”

Workman said one of the biggest challenges concerning services for people with FASD is the difficulty finding positive diagnoses.

“The only way you can diagnose FASD is to say with 100 certainty that the mom drank during pregnancy and not a lot of moms are willing to stand up and say this is the situation,” said Workman.

Follow @KimSmithGlobal

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Small town Saskatchewan celebrates Queen Elizabeth II’s reign

Watch above: When driving into Asquith, Sask., visitors are welcomed to the “Centre of the British Empire.” Meaghan Craig takes a look at how this small community celebrates Queen Elizabeth II as she becomes the longest serving monarch.

ASQUITH, Sask. – We are now all part of history. Wednesday marked a major milestone in time as Queen Elizabeth II became the longest reigning monarch in British history.

Addressing Scottish Borders, it is now 23,226 days and counting for the 89-year old monarch since her accession to the throne in 1952.

“Inevitably, a long life can pass by many milestones, my own is no exception but I thank you all and the many others at home and overseas for your touching messages of great kindness.”

READ MORE: She reigns supreme: Queen Elizabeth II surpasses Queen Victoria in length of service

Millions have watched Royal Family coronations, weddings, their baby announcements and now this.

Royal subjects as far away as Asquith, Sask., a humble town of 650 named after a British peer and known as the Centre of the British Empire, celebrated this historic moment.

“I think this is momentous occasion so it’s very important that she has something like this to remember,” said Lori Dufort, who brought her four-year-old granddaughter to the ceremony.

In attendance at Lord Asquith School was Asquith Mayor Gail Enhart.

“We’ve always learned about the Queen, we sing O’Canada every day. I think it’s really important to know who our Queen is.”

Barb Heineke, a member of the Red Hat Society, calls the day hugely memorable and appreciates how much the Queen has been able to keep up with the times.

“They’re fascinating to watch, they’re interesting people.”

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  • Key milestones in Queen Elizabeth II’s life

A small ceremony held behind the school marked the major milestone. Many in the crowd shared memories of the times Queen Elizabeth II visited the province and the country.

“I saw her twice, once when I was a little girl and once when I was older,” said Sharon Smutt,

“It was so awesome to see them.”

Conservative MP Kelly Bock said she’s never had the chance to met the Queen but came close.

“She came out to Ottawa and I had the privileged of attending a tea at Rideau Hall,” said Block of an event on Canada Day 2010.

“It was amazing to be that close to the queen and it was a great experience.”

At the Britannia Restaurant on main street, Wednesday’s special consisted of English fish and chips to commemorate the Queen’s landmark day.

“When I was with the Saskatoon Police Service, I did some point duty of course for her procession,” remarked owner Jim Madden, who said he was stationed that day at Spadina and Queen Street.

“That’s about the closest I ever got to the Queen.”

Queen Elizabeth II has now surpassed her great, great grandmother Queen Victoria, who served for 63 years and seven months.

“I think for her to remain on the throne this long and done the type of job that she has which I think is absolutely remarkable is really something. For her to surpass Queen Victoria as a sitting monarch is something in itself,” said Madden.

“Good on her I say and I hope she has a few more years left.”


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Neo-Nazi man appeals murder conviction in 2010 fatal beating

WATCH ABOVE: Robert Reitmeier, who was found guilty in the beating death of Mark Mariani, appealed his conviction Wednesday. As Global’s Nancy Hixt reports, the victim’s loved ones worry they will never really find closure in the case.

CALGARY – A white supremacist convicted of killing a Calgary man appealed his conviction Wednesday, requested a new trial and claimed evidence presented during his trial was prejudicial.

Robert Reitmeier is one of two men found guilty in the brutal beating death of 47-year-old Mark Mariani, who was murdered after going to a video store in northwest Calgary Oct. 3, 2010.

Mariani had health problems and had gone into the back alley to empty his ostomy bag, which is a medical pouch that collects waste from the bladder or colon.

47-year-old Mark Mariani was murdered after going to a video store in northwest Calgary Oct. 3, 2010.

Obtained by Global News

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Reitmeier and Tyler Sturrup boot-stomped and kicked Mariani, leaving him for dead with a fractured skull and ribs. Mariani managed to crawl to his car, where he died.

A jury found Reitmeier guilty of second-degree murder in November 2013.

Reitmeier said some evidence presented during the trial and the charge brought to the jury were prejudicial.

A three-justice appeal panel reserved its decision Wednesday, and it could be weeks or months before the decision is released.

Mariani’s family feels justice may never prevail.

“Of course you are angry, but you have to be strong and that’s why we are all here,” said the victim’s brother, Bob Mariani. “And we will show up every time there’s an appeal for anything—the family will be there because it’s for Mark.”

Reitmeier sat showing no emotion through the proceedings, his white power tattoos prominent on his neck, and his head still completely shaved.

“I don’t think he gives a you-know-what,” said brother Dino Mariani. “I don’t think he cares whether we’re there or not.”

Kathrine Mariani, Mark’s sister, said it seems like she’ll never move on.

“There is something coming up—another phone call or another letter,” she said. “You can’t move on, you’re just stuck in 2010, the day Mark got killed.”

Sturrup pleaded guilty in the case; there’s no word yet if he will also file an appeal.


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Alberta orders shakeup of Thorhild County government

THORHILD, Alta. — Alberta is shaking up the government of a small community north of Edmonton after a review found its council was failing as a leadership body.

Last summer, residents of Thorhild County petitioned the province for an inquiry into the conduct of council and its chief administrative officer.

A report commissioned by the municipal affairs department found laws were not being followed, biased decision making, bad spending practises and poor working relationships among some councillors.

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Some examples of poor behaviour included open animosity and personality conflicts between councillors, including an invitation to “settle conflicts outside” — which was taken as a threat to fight.

In what the government is calling a rare move, the department has issued 14 ministerial directives to fix the problems, including ordering the council to revoke the appointment of its chief administrative officer and for one councillor to step down.

Municipal Affairs Minister Deron Bilous said the changes will help ensure the council is following the Municipal Government Act and acting in the best interest of the county’s 3,400 residents.

“The folks up there want to get back on track. Municipal affairs will be working closely with them to ensure (the directives) are followed,” Bilous said Wednesday.

“Faith will be restored in the County of Thorhild.”

Concerns identified in the report by Russell Farmer and Associates Consulting Inc. include a county decision to levy significantly higher taxes for the Hamlet of Thorhild than for other hamlets in the municipality.

The report also cited a dispute over news coverage of the county by the Redwater Review newspaper.

Some councillors weren’t happy with the coverage, so earlier this year council voted to pay the Westlock News $58,000 to distribute in the county and move all county advertising over to the outside paper.

“Residents have objected to the cost of the contract on the basis that the previous service provider was free,” the report said.

“While this contract does fall within the power of council, we view it as an irregular governance practice. Elected officials should not use the power of the public purse as a means to control a free media.”


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