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Town of Sylvan Lake asks visitors to stay home, for now – Red Deer Advocate



Sylvan Lake is a well known tourist destination in Alberta, but Town officials are asking visitors to stay away for the time being.

With temperatures on the rise, and the May long weekend less than a month away, many are looking for an alternative to staying at home. However, the Town is saying now is not the time to visit Sylvan Lake.

Director of Emergency Management Ron Lebsack says it is important to remain at your primary place of residence during the outbreak and to continue following the advice of the province and the Chief Medical Officer.

“What we need to emphasize, is that to prevent a local health outbreak – to prevent that overwhelming impact on our local health services, which are already limited, is to stay home – your primary home, and visit us later once Alberta Health and our Chief Medical Officer of Health determines it safe to do so,” Lebsack said in a press release.

Many preventative measures have been put in place to discourage visitors from coming to the lakeside town.

These measures include:

• All public washroom facilities are closed

• All playgrounds, and sport park/amenities are closed

• Sporting activities are not permitted, green spaces and trails are for individual use only, and proper social distancing is being enforced

• Picnic shelters are closed

• All events and gatherings are cancelled until further notice

• Additional measures may be implemented, as needed

There is a possibility these measures may be extended with addition deterrents in the coming days and weeks.

The ask for visitors to stay home is also extended to the cottagers, those who have a secondary home or cottage in Sylvan Lake.

“We have a large seasonal population that returns to their cottages, lake homes, or secondary residences, once the snow melts, and we are reinforcing the message of Alberta, and the Chief Medical Officer of Health, which is to please stay in your primary residence while we all try to mitigate the COVID-19 situation,” said Jared Waldo, culture and tourism supervisor with the Town.

Being a popular destination, the Town asks all visitors to put off their trips to the lakefront until after the COVID-19 pandemic has come to an end.

Mayor Sean McIntyre said on Facebook that “Sylvan Lake is worth the wait.”

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Calls intensify for public inquiry into Nova Scotia mass murders –



TRURO, N.S. — The daughter of one of Nova Scotia’s mass shooting victims is calling for an immediate start to a public inquiry into the April tragedy.

Darcy Dobson, daughter of victim Heather O’Brien, posted a message on Facebook to “formally request” the start of a public inquiry into shootings on April 18 and 19 in northern Nova Scotia that left 22 people dead.

“We are now 40 days past this tragic event, we aren’t able to heal properly because, and to be quite frank, the amount of information being kept from us is deplorable,” Dobson said. “I urge you to put yourselves in our shoes. The woman who was the center of our world was taken from us in a manner that no one could ever even imagine.”

Dobson’s plea echoes earlier calls for an inquiry, including one last month from 33 of Dalhousie University’s approximately 40 faculty members of its Schulich School of Law. A group of seven Nova Scotia women fighting femicide have also called for a public inquiry “with a feminist analysis.”

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil has previously said such a review should be led by the federal government, with support and assistance coming from the province.
Cumberland-Colchester MP Lenore Zann is also calling on Ottawa to begin a public inquiry into the event.

“I am officially requesting an independent public inquiry into the recent mass shootings that took place here in our usually peaceful community of Northern Nova Scotia,” she wrote in a letter to Public Safety Minister Bill Blair. “There are issues of concern about the murderer’s behaviour long before, leading up to, and during the horrendous events of April 18 and 19, when in a period of 13 hours, 22 innocent people in several small rural communities were viciously murdered.

“Many of my constituents want answers.”

That position was supported by Dobson in her Facebook post. 

“We understand that there is an active investigation,” the Debert resident said. “We also know we have rights to information, especially regarding our individual circumstances. I think we can all agree that public safety is of the utmost importance and feeling safe in our communities is a must. The back and forth about who’s responsible for an inquiry is unreal. It causes the families of this senseless crime more distress and again I’m sure we can all agree that is not okay.”

The mass murders by a Halifax denturist who was ultimate fatally shot by police have been described as the worst massacre in Canadian history. 
If that is so, Dobson said, “… why are we not trying to learn from it? 

“The fact that any one of us has to ask these questions is all very concerning and only makes everyone feel, inadequate, unimportant and unsafe.”

Zann said she spoke personally with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last week to request his support for an independent public inquiry. She said he “appeared supportive of the idea and open to working out something with the province…” which leases RCMP services from the federal government.

“The PM seemed to clearly understand the grief, pain and fear that this horrendous violence has brought upon Nova Scotians and the growing frustration due to the lack of information,” Zann said.

“Thirty years after the Polytechnique massacre in Montreal which, shockingly, did not ever receive a public inquiry, surely this time it is our duty to do the right thing and hold a substantive independent inquiry into this recent tragedy,” she said.

Zann said she does not think a public inquiry should be held before the RCMP completes its investigation of the tragedy, but stressed the public should know that one will be forthcoming.


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Nova Scotia court ruling orders province to better protect endangered species – CTV News



The Nova Scotia government has failed to meet “certain statutory duties” to protect species at risk says a Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge, who also ordered the province’s minister of lands and forestry to fulfil his obligations under the Endangered Species Act.

In a ruling issued Friday, Justice Christa Brothers says the public record has shown a “chronic and systemic failure” to implement action required under the act.

“The minister and the department must uphold the law, all the more so when their duties are as plain as they are in this case,” Brothers wrote. “If they conduct themselves unlawfully without good reason, the court must hold them to account.”

The judge quoted from the 1971 Dr. Seuss book “The Lorax” in the preamble to her 58-page ruling: “UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

Brothers also cited a 2016 report by the provincial auditor general that criticized department inaction, a followup report by the department on the auditor’s recommendations in 2018, and the 2018 Lahey Report on forestry practices to back her conclusion.

The ruling is the result of a judicial review application by the Federation of Nova Scotia Naturalists, the Blomidon Naturalists Society, the Halifax Field Naturalists and wildlife biologist Bob Bancroft that was heard last fall.

The groups argued that Lands and Forestry Minister Iain Rankin has failed to meet requirements under the act, including requirements to devise and implement recovery plans for species at risk, create recovery teams and identify core habitats.

They cited six animal and plant species as examples — the mainland moose, Canada warbler, eastern wood pewee, wood turtle, ram’s head lady’s slipper and black ash.

“Nature won,” Bancroft said of the court ruling in an interview Monday. “The question is whether they (politicians) will actually do anything or not.”

Bancroft said he believes nature has been compromised over the years on many fronts because of an “industrial agenda” within the department, particularly when it comes to forestry practices.

“At least we got to the bottom of the species at risk issue effectively in law, so I’m grateful to the lawyers and Judge Brothers for that.”

Brothers noted that in the case of the Canada warbler, which was listed as endangered in 2013, the minister had one year to appoint a recovery team under the act.

But she said a team wasn’t appointed until March 2019, shortly after the naturalist groups filed for judicial review and “some five years after the time frame contemplated by the Endangered Species Act.”

Brothers said little action also occurred when it came to the ram’s head lady’s slipper, a plant listed as endangered in 2007.

“The minister neither appointed a recovery team nor prepared a plan in 2008,” she wrote. “According to the record, a draft recovery plan was created in 2009. There is nothing in either the record or submissions to explain why this plan was never finalized.”

Brothers said a plants recovery team was appointed in May 2019 that included the lady slipper and a recovery plan is pending.

“What of the 11 years that elapsed between the designation of the species and the appointment of the team?” the ruling asks.

The judge also said lawyers for the province had cited “several somewhat vague suggestions” of limited departmental resources as justification for the delay.

“There is no apparent support in the record for the claim that institutional restraints, such as lack of resources, are at fault for this failure to observe statutory requirements,” she said.

During two days of hearings last September the lawyer for the naturalist groups, James Simpson, argued that the language in the act, with its use of the word “shall”, creates an imperative for the department to enforce the existing law.

Brothers agreed in her ruling. “The minister has no discretion to avoid this duty,” she wrote.

In an email, Lands and Forestry Department spokeswoman Lisa Jarrett said there’s no word yet on a potential appeal of the ruling.

“The province has just received the ruling and is currently reviewing it to determine next steps,” she said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 1, 2020.

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Nova Scotia researchers to evaluate treatments for moderate, severe COVID-19 – The Telegram



A Nova Scotia study will look into the effectiveness of treatments for hospital patients suffering from moderate to severe COVID-19. 

The study, called CO-VIC for COVID victory, will involve about 600 patients from Nova Scotia Health Authority sites across the province, an NSHA news release said Monday. 

The study, which the authority is doing in conjunction with Dalhousie University, will test out potential therapies and their impact on COVID-19 symptoms. 

“When additional cutting-edge therapies become available, they will also be assessed,” the release said. “Personalized measurements of immune response will help develop future therapies and predict when and how severe COVID-19 happens.”

The work, which is being led by infectious disease clinician and researcher Dr. Lisa Barrett, aims to advance our understanding of how the immune system responds to COVID and help develop future treatments and second-wave vaccines.

 “We need the best knowledge of treatments and immunity, to save lives now and in the future as we continue to fight COVID-19.”

– CO-VIC study leader Dr. Lisa Barrett

CO-VIC is partially funded by the Nova Scotia COVID-19 Health Research Coalition.

 “As COVID-19 related deaths increase in the older population, in the young who didn’t ever expect to be ill, and in health care workers, our research community feels the overwhelming urgency to protect Nova Scotians with research that tests treatments, predicts disease, and promotes understanding of immunity,” Barrett said in the release.

 “We need the best knowledge of treatments and immunity, to save lives now and in the future as we continue to fight COVID-19.”

The NSHA called the treatment study an integral part of Nova Scotia’s pandemic response. Compared with other provinces, Nova Scotia’s population includes a high proportion of vulnerable people who are older, have underlying respiratory conditions or are immunosuppressed.

“These are all people at higher risk of severe COVID-19 disease and this work may aid in protecting our population.”

Most Nova Scotians will be eligible to take part at hospitals outside traditional research facilities to ensure fair access to research and potential therapies, the release said. 

“While data will be gathered from Nova Scotians, for Nova Scotians, the study is designed to mirror larger international trials to promote the comparison of global data. This will allow the research team to leverage international information so it can be applied here in Nova Scotia.”

For more information, visit the study website


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