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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.
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.
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.”
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
47-year-old Mark Mariani was murdered after going to a video store in northwest Calgary Oct. 3, 2010.
Obtained by Global News
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.
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.”
TORONTO – Two people in the United States have died in a growing outbreak of salmonella linked to cucumbers imported from Mexico, which have led to recalls throughout the U.S. and Canada.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday that in addition to the two deaths, 341 others have become sick as the agency continues to investigate the outbreak of Salmonella Poona infections.
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“341 people infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Poona have been reported from 30 states, an increase of 56 cases since the last update on September 4,” the CDC said in a statement. “Seventy ill people have been hospitalized, and two deaths have been reported from California and Texas.”
READ MORE: Cucumber recall in Canada expanded
Just over half of the reported cased involve children under the age of 18, the CDC said.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency said the Overwaitea Food Group based in B.C. is recalling field cucumbers linked to the outbreak sold at Save On Foods, PriceSmart Foods, Coopers Foods, Overwaitea and Freson Brothers stores in B.C. and Alberta.
The affected field cucumbers were sold unwrapped on or before Sept. 4, 2015.
Safeway recalled the cucumbers this week along with other in-store products, like salads, that could contain the cucumbers.
The CFIA says it is not aware of any reported illnesses in Canada associated with eating the cucumbers.
In the U.S., the cukes that tested positive for Salmonella were distributed by Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce and the company began a voluntary recall of its “Limited Edition” cucumbers.
“Consumers should not eat, restaurants should not serve, and retailers should not sell recalled cucumbers,” the CDC said on its website.
“If you aren’t sure if your cucumbers were recalled, ask the place of purchase or your supplier. When in doubt, don’t eat, sell, or serve them and throw them out.”
Symptoms caused by Salmonella include diarrhea, stomach pain, fever, vomiting, nausea and abdominal cramps. Young children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems may contract serious and sometimes deadly infections.
Food contaminated with salmonella may not look or smell spoiled but can still make you sick and affect a wide range of food from pork and poultry to vegetables.
CALGARY – Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. said Wednesday that it is cutting salaries for all of its staff in Calgary and Aberdeen, Scotland, as it grapples with low commodity prices.
Salaries will be reduced by up to 10 per cent, with the biggest cuts being absorbed by higher salaried employees, according to company spokeswoman Julie Woo.
Canadian Natural (TSX:CNQ) has not reduced its workforce this year, unlike many oil and gas producers who have resorted to mass layoffs in the face of plummeting oil prices.
“The additional measures taken today were in order to help the company address the current challenges without reducing our workforce,” Woo said in an email.
Canadian Natural has more than 7,600 employees across its operations in North America, Europe, and Africa.
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The Winnipeg Blue Bombers aren’t wasting any time giving Matt Nichols his first start. He will play Saturday night when Winnipeg hosts the Saskatchewan Roughriders to complete their home-and-home series.
The Bombers acquired Nichols from Edmonton last week but backup Brian Brohm played in their 37-19 road loss Sunday to the Riders.
The loss ended Saskatchewan’s wretched nine-game losing streak to open the 2015 season and gave interim head coach Bob Dyce, a Winnipeg native, a victorious CFL coaching debut.
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Winnipeg Blue Bombers trade for quarterback Matt Nichols
‘Wholesale changes were required’: Roughriders president
READ MORE: Roughriders snap losing streak, down Blue Bombers 37-19
Nichols will become the fourth different starter this season for Winnipeg (3-7) following incumbent Drew Willy (knee), Robert Marve (leg) and Brohm. Willy is the club’s offensive catalyst as all of its wins have come with him in the lineup.
Brohm, a 2008 second-round pick of the NFL’s Green Bay Packers, was 21 of 26 passing Sunday for just 184 yards while adding 22 rushing yards on eight carries with a TD. He went to nine different receivers but four had just one reception and Winnipeg’s offence managed less than 250 total yards.
Nichols, in his sixth CFL season, gives Winnipeg a more experienced option behind Willy. The 28-year-old appeared in 45 games with Edmonton – going 5-7 in 12 career starts – and was 5-2 with the Eskimos this season after incumbent Mike Reilly (knee) was injured.
Nichols has completed 128 of 209 passes (61.2 per cent) for 1,488 yards with eight TDs but also 10 interceptions. Overall, the six-foot-two 215-pound Nichols is 270 of 443 passing (60.9 per cent) for 3,386 yards with 19 touchdowns and 18 interceptions.
He has also run for 138 yards and three TDs.
Willy is expected to miss six-to-eight weeks and Winnipeg is 0-3 without him and 0-4 overall. The Bombers are fourth in the West Division, just two points behind third-place B.C. (4-5) but both teams would miss the playoffs if the fourth-place team in the East finished the season with more points.
Currently, Montreal (4-6) stands fourth in the East, just behind Ottawa (5-4).
Saskatchewan (1-9) certainly faces an uphill battle getting back into playoff contention but Sunday’s win was its 11th straight Labour Day weekend decision over Winnipeg. Rookie quarterback Brett Smith was 19 of 26 passing for 211 yards and a TD and also added 59 yards rushing on seven carries.
But Saskatchewan was anchored by a 161-yard rushing attack, led by Jerome Messam. The six-foot-four 245-pound native of Brampton, Ont., ran for a game-high 73 yards on 17 carries while rookie slotback Nic Demski – a Winnipeg native and former University of Manitoba standout – added a 60-yard punt return TD.
Pick – Saskatchewan.
WATCH ABOVE: School boards got some support from their colleagues in English Canada Wednesday as they fight to maintain their institutions. Howard Cohen finds out why.
MONTREAL – Quebec school boards received support from colleagues across Canada in their fight for self-preservation as they launched another offensive to try to protect their institutions.
Last April, Quebec Education Minister François Blais served notice that he intends to abolish school boards.
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Tough decisions ahead for Quebec English school boards
Debate over Quebec school boards heats up
Quebec school boards fight for survival
“This is not simply a question of democracy,” said David D’Aoust, president of the Quebec Association of English School Boards.
“It is a question of the survival of our English speaking community in Quebec; a minority community.”
READ MORE: Can Quebec school board elections be saved? Should they be?
“Providing our communities with a voice in the decision process is democracy,” added Floyd Martens, vice president of the Canadian School Boards Association.
“Electing representatives gives community a voice in who makes decisions on our behalf.”
But not everyone agrees.
Andrew Ross, a parent commissioner of the English Montreal School Board, wants to take advantage of the reform to increase the representation of parents in school governance.
“Parents need to have that stronger role,” he said.
“So it’s out with the old system and in with something new.”
Turnout at last fall’s school board election was 17 per cent for English school boards.
“Our system right now is a relic of a bygone era,” said Ross.
“The turnout of elections for school boards is an indicator that the general public does not have an interest in having these elections take place.”
Chris Eustace, a former teacher, welcomes the change.
“The government should pay more attention to the classroom, not the boardroom,” said Eustace.
He also argued that the money saved by abolishing school boards would result in cost savings.
Yet, opponents continue to raise concerns.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” said D’Aoust.
“We firmly believe that the government’s time would be better spent working on reaching agreements with our teachers, professionals and support staff for the benefit of our students and also find ways to improve the present electoral system.”
The education minister is expected to table his school board reform bill sometime this fall.
Until that happens, school boards will continue to fight.
WATCH ABOVE: Police say alcohol and speed are believed to be factors in a fatal collision that killed a father and son from Uxbridge, but investigators need help in piecing together what happened before the crash. Catherine McDonald has more on the victims and the investigation.
TORONTO — A family friend is remembering a 53-year-old Uxbridge man and his 23-year-old son in a positive light, after they were killed in a fatal rollover collision in Scugog township late Sunday.
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Durham Regional Police said a westbound Dodge rounded a curve on Regional Road 8, east of Lakeridge Road, at a high rate of speed and lost control at about 11:45 p.m. Sunday.
The vehicle entered a ditch and rolled multiple times. Both men were ejected.
READ MORE: Uxbridge father and son killed after vehicle rollover near Scugog township
The 53-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene while his 23-year-old son was transported to a local hospital by Durham EMS before being airlifted to a Toronto trauma centre by ORNGE air ambulance in critical condition.
The 23-year-old man succumbed to his injuries in hospital on Wednesday and the family has consented to the names of the victims being released.
With the families consent, police identified the victims on Wednesday as 53-year-old David LeGault and his 23-year-old son, Brandon Legault, both of Uxbridge.
Aylivia Taylor, who knew the two men, said they were very close.
“Dave lost his wife when Brandon was young,” she said.
“He raised two children on his own and did an amazing job.”
Taylor said Dave left behind a 21-year-old daughter and that Dave worked for the Toronto Catholic District School Board as a technician while his son owned a roofing company.
Police said they are looking for anyone who saw the father and son earlier that day at the Port Perry Fair because they still don’t know who was behind the wheel at the time of the crash.
“We put the message out many times over the years, just don’t drink and drive,” said Sgt. Bill Calder.
“In this case we want to know which one was driving.”
Durham Regional police say they’d like to speak to anyone who saw the Legaults leaving the Port Perry Fair earlier in the day.
Police believe alcohol and speed were factors in the crash and said neither Dave nor Brandon were wearing seatbelts.
Sgt. Calder said the investigation is not focused on whether the father and son were over-served at the fair.
The Port Perry Fair has yet to comment on the tragedy.
Taylor said she’s still in shock and despite the fact their deaths may have been preventable, she wants to remember the victims in a positive light.
“They were incredible people,” she said.
“It’s very sad what happened.”
Police said the incident is an active investigation and are asking anyone who may have witnessed the crash or had contact with the men at the Port Perry Fair and who have not already spoken to police to contact Det.-Cst. Ashfield of the Collision Investigation Unit at 1-888-579-1520 ext. 5226.
Anonymous information can also be sent to Durham Regional Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.