Helen Schuler Nature Centre snake expert Ken Moore helped raise awareness of the presence of rattlesnakes in the region in a speech at the University of Lethbridge library over the noon hour May 16.
Snakes are out of their dens and active now that warmer temperatures have arrived, confirmed Moore, but it is nothing to fear.
“The snakes are good environmental (indications) to show you have a healthy environment,” he explained. “They are there to eat rodents, mainly mice, voles and Richardson ground squirrels (gophers). They are not out to get you; they are trying to live and are more afraid of you than you are of them.”
Moore said the profile of rattlesnakes may be heightened a bit more this year after a Lethbridge mother was bitten by one last summer, but it is not a common occurrence overall, he said.
“It is not common, but if you are unaware snakes are around, then you could possibly be bitten by a rattlesnake,” he acknowledged. “Although their venom is pretty toxic, we haven’t had any deaths caused by prairie rattlesnakes in the province of Alberta. There are more deaths in the United States because there are just more people bitten every year down in the United States.
“On average about 8,000 people a year are bitten in the United States, but of that 8,000 there’s on average only about six deaths. Those deaths are mainly caused in urban areas, and the people who usually suffer (this fate) are mainly boys or men between the ages of 18 and 35 years of age who couldn’t help handling them. And quite often alcohol is involved.”
Food for thought
Members of the local business community had an opportunity May 16 to learn about the importance of improving their community while growing their business during an annual breakfast event hosted by Economic Development Lethbridge.
EDL, with support from the Regional Innovation Network of Southern Alberta, held its annual “Food For Thought — Entrepreneurship, Leadership and the Economy” breakfast. The event featured presentations by EDL CEO Trevor Lewington and social entrepreneur and restaurateur Mark Brand.
Lewington works with EDL to connect, support and promote the city as a place for enterprise, and a place where businesses and citizens can thrive within a welcoming community.
Brand is one of North America’s foremost social entrepreneurs with 11 businesses under his belt and an example of a new form of leadership that encompasses good in every step.
Lewington said the annual event acts to provide key statistical information regarding Lethbridge to the business community in order to help them make better decisions.
City staying in program
The City of Lethbridge will remain involved with a regional benchmarking program following a decision by city council.
Council decided to remain part of the Alberta Municipal Benchmarking Initiative.
“We shouldn’t be afraid of comparing our programs and the cost of our programs with other municipalities,” said Mayor Chris Spearman.
“We can learn about efficiencies that others are employing in order to achieve — in some cases — lower costs than ours. Certainly, what we need to do is make sure we work together on a collaborative basis with other municipalities.”
Spearman said extensive work has gone into the benchmarking process and that it would “be a shame” if that work fell by the wayside.
“We need to build on the work that has been done the last few years throughout the city,” he said.
A benchmark is an established point of reference used for comparison. The AMBI provides municipal service delivery metrics over time.
City buying property
Lethbridge City Council has agreed to a northside land purchase.
Council passed a resolution to purchase 1.58 acres of land from Lafarge Canada Inc. located at 530 9 St. N. along Scenic Drive.
The cost of the purchase is $48,400, with the closing date set for June 25.
Doug Hawkins, Director of Infrastructure Services, told council the purchase was necessary due to the location of a stormwater outfall which runs through the coulee and a structure that is adjacent to Scenic Drive.
“That deep utility and that infrastructure was constructed concurrently over the last few decades with a fill site that the city used to dispose of clean waste,” Hawkins said.
The fill site is going to be closed and the infrastructure is now in place fully. But in order to facilitate access to the outlet structure — in particular, a stormwater pipe and manhole at that location, it was proposed the land be purchased.
Rick Hansen to receive degree
The University of Lethbridge will be recognizing Canadian icon Rick Hansen, a three-time Paralympic gold medallist, with an honorary degree at the 2018 Spring Convocation ceremonies later this month.
Hansen, known as the Man in Motion for undertaking an epic two-year 40,000-kilometre journey around the world in his wheelchair, is the founder and CEO of the Rick Hansen Foundation, an organization committed to creating a world without barriers for people with disabilities.
“We are thrilled that Mr. Hansen has accepted our offer of an honorary degree and look forward to welcoming him to campus,” said U of L Chancellor Janice Varzari in a news release. “His commitment to removing barriers and enhancing engagement for physically disabled people speaks to the value of inclusivity that we champion here at the U of L. He is richly deserving of this honour.”
Wide Skies returning
The Wide Skies Music and Arts Festival returns to downtown Lethbridge July 30-Aug. 1 for three nights of music, dance, artistic expression and fun.
This year’s festival will feature some of Canada’s best known folk music acts, including the stellar and ever-popular Little Miss Higgins, The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer, the Weber Brothers, blues and R&B powerhouse vocalist Shakura S’aida, Seattle indie rock collective The Cave Singers, as well as festival co-headliners Frazey Ford and Shovels and Rope.
Getting Shovels and Rope to come to Lethbridge in particular, puts an exclamation mark on this year’s festival, says festival director Mike Spencer.
“That one we consider the really big coup,” he says. “If I can say we have one big headliner for the festival it is them. They are a duo from South Carolina, Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst. They are two extremely talented musicians who will be playing the main stage at the Calgary Folk Festival, and have agreed to stay in Alberta an extra night to play our event. They will be a really big impact act. They are something special.”
Spencer was equally confident the other performers will provide a lot of musical oomph for festival-goers’ dollars this year.
No flooding fears
While rivers and lakes are flooding communities in British Columbia, officials say there’s little danger of that here.
This year, at least, southern Alberta’s snowpack has largely melted and streams in the Oldman River basin remain safely within their banks.
“There should be nothing out of the ordinary,” says Colleen Walford, speaking from the river monitoring office at Alberta Environment and Parks.
While rain was predicted this week across the region, she says more water is needed to fill the Oldman Dam to supply irrigation systems through the growing season.
“We don’t want to run out before the end of summer.”
Observers say there is still some snow to melt in the Castle, Crowsnest and Oldman headwaters, she notes. But although river and stream flows were falling this week, Walford says a general rainfall could simply bring the volume back up to recent levels. With the abrupt end of a long winter, she reports relatively high water came earlier than usual.
In years when the Oldman and Bow Rivers have flooded, Walford points out, the peak levels usually came in late June or early July. At this point, she said, the only high water levels in southern Alberta were reported on the Bow upstream from Cochrane.