Fort McMurray has lift-off; new international terminal opens – Edmonton

EDMONTON – After nearly three years of construction, the new $258-million Fort McMurray International Airport terminal opened for passengers Monday morning.

Government and airport officials say the new facility is vital for the municipality of Wood Buffalo, which has experienced a 75 per cent increase in air passenger traffic since 2010. The average annual increase at North American airports is three percent.

“We are one of the fastest growing municipalities in all of North America and we need to make sure that our infrastructure is keeping pace with our growth, so that’s exactly why,” explains Fort McMurray MLA Don Scott. “Our old airport was not able to keep up with the capacity.”

First flight arrives at Fort McMurray’s new international terminal, Monday, June 9, 2014.

Fletcher Kent, Global News

The old terminal could handle 250,000 passengers per year. The new terminal is expected to have 1.3-million passengers go through it during its first year.

“The first impression in coming into Fort McMurray if you’re flying is obviously the terminal and it wasn’t a very good first impression, that changes dramatically overnight, literally,” says Scott Clement, Fort McMurray Airport Authority.

The new $258-million Fort McMurray international terminal opens, Monday, June 9, 2014.

Fletcher Kent, Global News

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Travelers have similar sentiments.

“It makes it easier that’s for sure, and coming here and not being cramped in a small airport, it actually makes a big difference,” says Latif Uyaln.

Construction was a long and challenging process but a necessary one, according to Clement.

“This one is kind of a particularly unique on a number of fronts. It’s a greenfield terminal. We had to go across the field because the current terminal could not be expanded. There are not many greenfield terminals built in North America.”

The old terminal will still be used for workforce transportation. It’s expected to transport about 275,000 people every year.

There could be more expansion in the near future. With the capacity for the new terminal being 1.5-million annual passengers, airport officials believe more development could be necessary within the next five years.

With files from Fletcher Kent

Competition urges youth to redesign Toronto’s public spaces – Toronto

TORONTO – If you’re ever walked down a dull city street or through an underused parkette and thought, “this could be so much better,” the city of Toronto wants your help.

City officials and urban strategy studio Distl have launched a competition calling on young people to share their vision for improving Toronto’s public spaces.

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The NXT City Prize challenges participants to re-imagine Toronto’s city-owned public spaces, including streets, sidewalks, parks, transit corridors, waterfront areas and parking lots.

The competition is open to all Ontarians under the age of 30, regardless of their education, disciplines or experience.

“The goal of this competition is to encourage young people to think critically about how we’re using public spaces and move away from conventional thinking about those spaces,” said Distl co-founder, Mackenzie Keast.

“It’s their future and their opportunity to shape the city in which they live.”

Competition organizers said they are looking for a variety of people. “The NXT City Prize recognizes that the ethos of young people means they are experimental, adventurous and connected to the spirit of change,” reads the competition website.

Participants are asked to identify an area or issue where improving that public space will benefit the needs of future generations.

“It may be a structure, a new function, programmed activities or something completely unexpected.”

Submissions will be accepted until July 31. The winner, announced on Aug. 14, will be selected by a panel of judges including Toronto’s Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat and Rahul Bhardwaj, president and CEO of the Toronto Community Foundation.

Criteria for the winning submission include how innovative and forward-thinking the vision is, how it benefits the public and surrounding neighbourhood, and its lasting impact on Toronto’s public realm. The winning entry will receive $10,000 in funding to help the vision become a reality.

The Toronto competition follows similar events in cities around the world.

In April, the city of Vancouver’s public space program VIVA Vancouver announced the winner of its 2014 design competition.

The city invited emerging and professional designers to submit their ideas for transforming the 800 block of Robson Street info a pedestrian plaza.

The winning design, Urban Reef, was selected from nearly 80 submissions from around the world.

The design features areas where people can sit and watch street performers, lounge in the sun, enjoy street food and interact with those around them.

Urban Reef will transform Vancouver’s Robson Square for two months this summer.

Last week, officials in Boston announced the winners of its inaugural Public Space Invitational, which asked designers, engineers and artists to re-imagine Boston’s public space, including streets, plazas, sidewalks and public buildings to better serve the public.

The nine winners, selected from 72 entries, included a book-lending kiosk, a mural that will transform the ceiling at city hall and street furniture that will double as a playground.

Ohio mom claims daughter stabbed her in Slender Man-inspired attack – National

TORONTO – An Ohio woman has come forward claiming her 13-year-old daughter stabbed her during a Slender Man-inspired attack.

The teen’s mother, who asked not to be identified, told Cincinnati news outlet WLWT News 5 that her daughter attacked her with a knife while wearing a mask.

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“I came home one night from work and she was in the kitchen waiting for me. She was wearing a white mask, she had her hood up and her hands covered with her sleeves,” the woman told WLWT News 5.

The teen had become obsessed with the Slender Man – she had even created a world for the fictional Internet character in the game ‘Minecraft’.

READ MORE: Who is ‘Slender Man’ and why are people obsessed with him?

Slender Man is depicted as an unnaturally tall man with long, stretched-out limbs. He has no facial features and is often depicted as having an all-white face.

The character was created in 2009 as part of a photo-editing contest and quickly became a viral Internet sensation. Slender Man is now a popular character on “Creepypasta” forums – where users submit short horror stories.

One of two photographs originally created to show Slender Man.

Victor Surge/Eric Knudsen

The mother said she came forward with her story after hearing about the two 12-year-old Wisconsin girls who nearly stabbed their friend to death in order to “please” Slender Man.

The 13-year-old had previously been diagnosed with mental health issues, but had never shown signs of violence. According to her mother, both her artwork and writing was very dark and often referenced demons and insanity.

The teen is now in Hamilton County juvenile detention facing charges.

Her mother suffered cuts to her neck and face and a puncture wound on her back in the attack.

According to the WLWT News 5 report, sources say the girl has no recollection of the incident.

‘Creepypasta’ community defends fan fiction

In the wake of the Slender Man stabbing, some have called for popular creepypasta websites to be shut down to prevent teens from reading about characters like Slender Man.

But site moderators have released statements defending the community, clarifying that the works presented on their sites are purely fictional.

“Only a small minority of people (mostly newcomers) on the wiki (and the Internet) truly believe what they read here. And for most people, they will not attempt to replicate atrocities presented in some of the literature on the wiki. Something like this was bound to happen, considering the size of the Creepypasta community,” read a statement posted on the creepypasta wiki.

“All it takes is one person to do something insane and radical in the name of someone or something.”

Creepypasta杭州夜网, a site for user-created short horror stories, has created a campaign geared towards raising funds for the Wisconsin stabbing victim’s family and for families recovering from violent crimes.

The campaign called “Narrartors u-NIGHTed” will host a 24-hour YouTube stream on June 13 that will showcase narrators, authors and artists. All ad revenue generated by the live stream will be donated to the charity. Users can also donate online.

“This was a terrible tragedy and should not have happened. And while there are a myriad of factors beyond the urban legend of Slenderman that are attributed to this terrible incident, it is a duty to be vigilant and provide a respite for the victim and to assuage concerns about the concept of literary horror and urban myths on the Internet,” read a blog post on the website.

Opinion mixed over privatization of liquor stores: poll

SASKATOON – A new poll released Monday has done little to settle the debate over the privatization of liquor stores in Saskatchewan.

The poll by Insightrix Research found opinion is split in the province over the divisive issue.

When asked whether all liquor stores should be privatized, 23 per cent said yes, while 34 per cent said the current approach of new stores being privatized with existing stores remaining publicly owned is the way to go.

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Those opposed to any privatization stood at 26 per cent, with 11 per cent having no opinion and six per cent unsure.

The poll also found 47 per cent said privatizing liquor stores would mean less money for health, education and highway spending while 52 per cent said private stores would offer better selection and 51 per cent said there would be better pricing.

Insightrix Research conducted the poll of 800 randomly selected SaskWatch panel members between June 3-6, with quotas set for age, gender and region.

The poll comes after Premier Brad Wall attended the grand opening of a private liquor store in Saskatoon on June 2.

Wall took the NDP to task for a resolution passed at its convention against privatizing liquor stores, saying there has been private liquor retailing in the province for years.

He also said he asked his MLAs to talk to people over the summer to get feedback on the issue of privatization which could provide a potential plank in the next provincial election.

Wall also stated that regardless of the results, the government will continue to be the sole wholesaler of liquor in the province.

With files from the Canadian Press

Bridge projects get funding from feds, province

SASKATOON – The city of bridges will soon have another span after the federal and provincial governments announced millions in funding for the North Commuter Parkway Bridge project.

Premier Brad Wall announced on Monday the province will invest $50 million to the north commuter bridge as part of a tripartite deal with the City of Saskatoon and the federal government.

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“Saskatoon is one of the fastest growing cities in Canada and the North Commuter Parkway Bridge will help sustain that growth by connecting residential neighbourhoods to the expanding industrial area in the city’s north end,” said Wall in a release announcing the funding.

The provincial government promised in the 2014-15 budget it would support the north bridge project only if the federal government pitched in with money.

The feds announced a contribution of up to $66 million through the P3 Canada Fund for the project for both bridge projects.

Saskatoon city council approved using a public-private partnership (P3) after a report from KPMG said using that approach could save the city just over $26 million over 30 years.

When complete, the bridge that would link the Marquis Downs industrial area with University Heights is expected to ease congestion on the Circle Drive North Bridge, where an estimated 80,000 vehicles travel over it each day.

The money from the federal government will also go towards replacing the 107-year-old Traffic Bridge in downtown Saskatoon which has been closed to traffic since August 2010 after inspectors found it at risk of collapsing under its own weight.

Construction of the new north bridge and associated road work should take about two years to complete.

Crown says Sona is Pierre Poutine – but more than one person involved in robocalls

GUELPH – Both sides agree: It couldn’t have been just one person behind the robocalls.

But exactly who orchestrated the scheme to mislead Guelph voters during the 2011 election remained the question at the heart of the last day of Michael Sona’s trial.

The 25-year-old former Conservative staffer is the only person charged with preventing people from voting – a crime that carries up to five years of prison if convicted.

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Crown prosecutor Croft Michaelson argued Sona was “instrumental” in the scheme that primarily targeted Liberal supporters – and that he was the young man behind the now-infamous Pierre Poutine cellphone.

Sona’s lawyer Norm Boxall cast doubt on Crown’s evidence, labelling key witness Andrew Prescott as “not credible” and suggesting he may have been involved in the scheme along with campaign manager Ken Morgan.

But who Justice Gary Hearn believes will be revealed when he delivers his verdict on August 14.

‘More than one person’

The Crown argued Sona inquired about making anonymous calls days before the May 2 election and, along with Morgan, received information from Prescott about how to create an automated calling account with Edmonton-based company RackNine.

Michaelson said the evidence shows Sona set up a robocalls account under the pseudonym “Pierre Jones,” and also bought prepaid credit cards and a burner cellphone registered as the now-infamous “Pierre Poutine.”

READ MORE: Crown wraps case against Sona in robocalls trial as court hears of possible second person

“I say the evidence points towards Mr. Sona as being ‘Pierre Jones’ and being instrumental in carrying out the scheme,” Michaelson said.

Michaelson suggested Sona did this to retaliate against the Liberals during what many described as a “dirty” campaign.

“He wanted to win the election by preventing Liberal voters from voting.”

But he also said someone else on Conservative candidate Marty Burke’s campaign was likely involved, noting that someone logged onto a proxy server and purchased credit cards at roughly the same time.

“It appears that more than one person was involved in executing the plan,” he said.

That person may have been Morgan, the Crown suggested, who along with Sona had login information about creating a robocalls account.

But Morgan has since moved to Kuwait and did not cooperate with investigators or testify at the five-day trial.

Michaelson said even if Sona aided or abetted someone else, he can be found guilty.

‘Not credible’

Boxall, Sona’s lawyer, suggested there’s more evidence against the Crown’s star witness – Prescott – than his own client.

Prescott received immunity to testify against his former friend in the case.

“Mr. Prescott is just not credible,” Boxall said.

READ MORE: Conservative friends point finger at Michael Sona on Day 3 of robocalls trial

Prescott, who worked as deputy campaign manager, has an information technology background and had set up his own robocalls account during the campaign.

He was also tipped off about the investigation by Matt Meier, who owned the automated calling firm RackNine which was used to make the misleading calls.

Boxall noted that both Prescott and “Pierre Jones” paid for the robocalls using the PayPal system in small dollar amounts.

Prescott also destroyed the computers associated with the campaign after the election.

In his testimony last week, Prescott said that he logged into the Jones account – client 93 – after Morgan told him to stop another round of robocalls from going out on election day.

He also told the court he withheld information from investigators to protect himself.

“Mr. Prescott is deflecting responsibility from himself, and perhaps others,” Boxall said.

Boxall also cast doubt on the recollection of four witnesses, all young current and former Conservative staffers, who testified against Sona.

He said their statements are “unreliable” because at least a year had passed before they first came forward, and they may have been influenced by media reports.

Boxall added it was “somewhat unusual” that three of them had spoken with the Conservative party’s lawyer Arthur Hamilton before meeting with Elections Canada.

Northern Gateway pipeline deadline 10 days away

VANCOUVER – Some time in the next 10 days, the federal government is supposed to announce its final decision on the Northern Gateway pipeline – the multibillion-dollar political minefield dividing the West.

Even detractors expect the federal government to give the $7-billion project the go-ahead.

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But the nod from Ottawa would not be the crest of the mountain Northern Gateway must climb before the oil – and the money – begin to flow. The path to the British Columbia coast has many hurdles left for Calgary-based Enbridge (TSX:ENB) and its partners.

A joint review panel of the National Energy Board and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency recommended approval of the project six months ago, subject to 209 conditions.

“The bottom line is there are 113 conditions that need to be met before construction can begin. That’s going to take a lot of time,” said company spokesman Ivan Giesbrecht.

If approved, that would be merely one more step in an ongoing process, Giesbrecht said.

“We have a lot of work to be done before we would be able to begin construction.”

There are also the five applications before the Federal Court for judicial review of the federal panel recommendation, and further court challenges are likely.

To read our continued coverage on the Northern Gateway pipeline click here

The opposition of environmental groups was always a given. Expansion of Alberta’s oil sands has become an international target for climate activists.

“Approval seems obvious. At the same time, opposition is so strong,” said Nikki Skuce, a resident of Smithers, B.C., and a campaigner for the environmental group Forest Ethics Advocacy.

“It’s going to be caught up in the courts for years and it’s going to be ugly on the ground. People are willing to do what it takes.”

That is no idle threat in a province that saw a decade-long War in the Woods over logging of old growth forests, which ended with new government regulations.

Protestors form a \”women\’s circle\” to honour those leading the fight against the Enbridge Northern Gateway project in George Little Park, Terrace, B.C., June 16, 2013. About 300 people attended the rally the day before the final arguments begin for the Joint Review Panel on the controversial Northern Gateway pipeline.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Robin Rowland

And opposition is not limited to environmentalists and First Nations.

Another crippling blow to the project came from the residents of Kitimat – the B.C. city with the most to gain as the pipeline terminus – when they voted to reject the project in a non-binding plebiscite.

Kitimat is no stranger to industry, born of an aluminum smelter in the 1950s, but for a majority of those who voted the risks outweigh the rewards.

Even the provincial government officially opposed the project at review hearings.

Victoria appears poised to reverse itself, deploying key ministers to a flurry of recent federal announcements on marine and pipeline safety. But the Liberal government may be waiting to see which way the political wind is blowing before they change direction.

“There’s a question of whether going along with the approval of the Northern Gateway pipeline will make LNG development in B.C. more challenging by angering First Nations so adamantly opposed to the oil sands pipeline,” said George Hoberg, a professor at the University of British Columbia’s school of forestry and founder of UBCC350, a group pressing for action on greenhouse gas emissions.

There is deep resistance in B.C., he said.

“I think it’s likely to be approved, but I would not be shocked if it was delayed or even denied,” Hoberg said.

The product that the pipeline would carry is a hurdle.

The pipeline west would transport molasses-like diluted bitumen. Studies and previous spills have found that dilbit sinks in turbulent water conditions.

Opponents like Art Sterritt, director of Coastal First Nations, have said a tanker spill is possible – even likely – and cannot be cleaned up. His coalition of nine aboriginal communities remains vehemently opposed.

The greatest obstacle is the unflagging opposition of First Nations. Hamstrung by the federal government’s failure to negotiate treaties in decades of talks, the company has been left in a legal limbo.

The company said the project has 26 aboriginal equity partners and consultations continue but Clarence Innis, acting chief of the Gitxaala Nation on the North Coast, said they haven’t heard from anyone and no talks are planned.

“We’re going to do whatever we need to do to protect our territory,” said Innis, whose community is located on an island at the mouth of the Douglas Channel.

The Gitxaala are already preparing a legal challenge.

“We played by the rules,” Innis said.

“We’ve been ignored.”

The fight is far from over on either side. There are hundreds of billions of dollars at stake, the company has said.

“It’s in the national interest to be able to diversify the markets that we have for our most valuable natural resource,” Giesbrecht said.

“We believe the project is the right thing for Canada, we’ve felt that way right from the very beginning and that’s why we’ve pursued it.

©2014The Canadian Press

WATCH: Woman describes how fallen Mountie saved baby brother’s life

Watch above: A Moncton family wants to pay tribute to a fallen RCMP officer who save a baby boy’s life six years ago. Shelley Steeves reports.

MONCTON – A Moncton woman whose family has a special connection to one of the three RCMP officers killed last week said they were devastated when they found out he had died.

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In an interview with Global News, 18-year-old Chelsea Furlotte said Const. Douglas Larche saved her brother Kodie when he was only a few days old.

READ MORE: City of Moncton releases details of funeral for fallen Mounties

Kodie, now six years old, had stopped breathing, and their mother called the police.

“He took my brother out of the crib…and he started to do CPR,” said Furlotte. “He saved his life.

“It’s terrible to know that if it wasn’t for Doug, my little brother wouldn’t be here right now.”

Larche received a special commendation for his efforts.

RAW VIDEO: Chelsea Furlotte speaks to Global News’s Shelley Steeves about the death of Const. Douglas Larche

Furlotte described Larche as “an amazing man” who cared about everybody.

She said he would stop by regularly to see how her brother was doing.

“He would come over to our house and he’d make sure Kodie was okay,” she said. “He really loved Kodie.”

“He shouldn’t have died. It’s not fair.”

The one message she said she would like to send Larche’s family is one of gratitude.

“Thank you, for everything that you’ve done for us and this community,” she said tearfully.

READ MORE: People of Moncton take back their streets, thank RCMP after shootings

Furlotte said she and her family are planning to attend the funeral of the three officers in Moncton on Tuesday.

“We’re going to pay our respects to all of the officers who passed away,” she said.

Larche’s family released a statement on Sunday that spoke of his love for his family — especially his three daughters, aged nine, eight and four.

With files from Shelley Steeves

GALLERY: Jazz Fest Regina Preview at Darke Hall – Regina

REGINA- Several local artists, including Arnie Davis and Jeffery Straker performed a sampling of the musical offerings at this year’s Jazz Fest Regina Monday morning at Darke Hall. The festival runs Tuesday through Saturday with various free and ticketed events throughout the city.

Jeffery Straker performs “Luck ain’t chasing me” live for the Morning News Monday.

Raquel Fletcher/Global News

Kevin Kasha plays a Dixieland tune on the trumpet in Darke Hall at the U of R College Avenue Campus.

Raquel Fletcher/Global News

Inside the Fazioli piano.

Raquel Fletcher/Global News

Joe Kleisinger accompanies Arnie Davis on bass live on the Morning News Monday at Darke Hall.

Raquel Fletcher/Global News

Arnie Davis plays the U of R’s Fazioli piano at Darke Hall Monday morning.

Raquel Fletcher/Global News

Rick Harris provides a preview of his multiple

Raquel Fletcher/Global News

Reporter Raquel Fletcher sits behind the Fazioli piano in Darke Hall at the U of R College Avenue Campus.

Raquel Fletcher/Global News

This Fazioli piano was gifted to the U of R in January 2014 by Dr. Roberta McKay and Elmer Brenner.

Raquel Fletcher/Global News


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Police station sale, disaster assistance on Saskatoon council agenda – Saskatoon

SASKATOON – The City of Saskatoon is taking steps to sell the old police building at the corner of 4th Avenue and 23rd Street once it is vacated after the move to the new headquarters is complete.

On Monday, council will be asked to remove the reserve price of $15.6 million.

If approved, the building will be listed for three months with Colliers International.

The parking lot just north of the current headquarters is also part of the deal.

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City officials said there has been considerable interest in the property since it was put up for sale last fall but no offers have been made.

Also on Monday, council will be asked to pass a resolution which could assist property owners who are dealing with spring flood damage.

The city is seeking disaster relief from the provincial government and needs to be declared an eligible assistance area before homeowners can apply for provincial money to cover the cost of damages not covered by insurance.

The city is pointing to the riverbank slump along Saskatchewan Crescent which recently prompted evacuation alerts to a number of homes.

Official are also blaming heavy rain for 12 calls about flood damage.

Also on the agenda are proposed amendments to the city’s vending policy on public sidewalks which regulates mobile food vendors.

The amendments would remove outdated sections for hours of operation and rental fees.

Additions to the policy would allow for the provision of parking patios, which is recommended in the City Centre Plan, and modifies the name to reflect the use of parking stalls.