While a former southern Alberta couple convicted of failing to provide their young son with the necessaries of life look to the court to pay for a new trial, they also hope the court can help them pay for the first one.
David Stephan said Thursday during a hearing in Lethbridge Court of Queen’s Bench that he and his wife Collet are broke and can’t pay for a new trial, which the Supreme Court of Canada ordered following the couple’s successful appeal of their 2016 convictions. While they intend to submit a Rowbotham application, which would allow the judge to order Legal Aid coverage for the new trial, they want to apply to have all their fees associated with the first trial paid for, as well.
The couple was told Thursday to have their applications filed by their next court appearance Nov. 29, at which time the court may schedule a date for a judge to hear the applications.
The Stephans are also waiting to receive disclosure from the Crown’s office for their new trial, and are concerned about conditions the Crown has placed on releasing the information. Stephan said he is worried conditions attached to the disclosure will prevent him from sharing the information with expert witnesses or others who may be able to help him raise a proper defence.
A representative for the Crown told court disclosure is “ready to go,” but the Crown is concerned because Stephan is a regular blogger and could release the information on social media sites. That, he suggested, requires disclosure to include a trust condition.
No conversion therapy at agencies
Conversion therapy is unethical, and accredited counsellors should not use it.
That’s the stand taken by one of Lethbridge’s longest-running counselling agencies, in response to comments raised here during a recent public forum.
Now disproven, the intensive “therapy” sessions were once promoted as a way to “convert” a gay or lesbian person to become heterosexual. More recently scores of states, provinces and cities have banned its use on anyone below the age of majority.
“We do not promote, provide or support conversion therapy,” says Michael Fedunec, executive director at the Crossroads Healing Centre.
Crossroads and Lethbridge Family Services both receive subsidies for clients who can’t afford counselling during a difficult time. But a City official confirms no payments through Family and Community Support Services go to fund “conversion” attempts.
A spokesperson at Lethbridge Family Services says it’s not offered there either. Questions arose after a regular session of the Southern Alberta Council on Public Affairs.
Crime increase linked to drug crisis
The Lethbridge Police Service is urging residents to keep the recently released Maclean’s report — which ranks Lethbridge as 19 out of the 20 most dangerous places in Canada to live based on crime rate — in perspective.
While the report indicates a 53-per-cent rise in crime in Lethbridge since the last Maclean’s report in 2012, LPS Sgt. Bruce Hagel said most of that increase is accounted for and conjoined with the drug crisis.
“Lethbridge, like a lot of communities on that list — and I think there are six or seven communities in Alberta on that list — this has been an unprecedented series of events over the last number of years with this opioid crisis,” Hagel told reporters on Tuesday. “Along with that increase in drug use, you see increases in property crimes, vehicle break-ins, house break-ins, garage break-ins, to feed those drug habits.”
According to the Maclean’s study, Lethbridge actually ranks below the country average in homicides and is not far above, or at par with, the country average in most other categories of crime measured, with the exception of assaults (782.34 incidents per population of 100,000, nearly double the Canadian average at 430.68) and breaking and entering (801.42 incidents per 100,000 population, again nearly double the Canadian average at 438.51).
Hagel said most of the break-and-enter numbers can be attributed to the drug crisis. The assault numbers are a little harder to account for, but tend to take place within a select group of individuals in the city.
New outlets for pot sales
Lethbridge now has a six-pack — of marijuana marts.
Last Tuesday, the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission listed two more Lethbridge locations as approved and licensed to open.
They’re both along Mayor Magrath Drive, bringing the current total for south Lethbridge to four. The other two, previously announced, are right downtown and in a westside shopping area.
The latest outlets are Bridge Bud Supply at 1917 Mayor Magrath Drive S., and Canna Cabana at 23 Southgate Blvd., just off Mayor Magrath Drive.
The first to open its doors in Lethbridge was the NewLeaf store at 1328 Mayor Magrath S. — conspicuous for its lineups outside. NewLeaf, a Calgary company that’s opened a number of locations across the province, has also been licensed for a westside location at 338 University Drive W.
Twenty Four Karat, on 5 Avenue at Mayor Magrath Drive South, was given AGLCC approval late last week.
Downtown, while a number of “opening soon” signs have been posted, the only licensed business there to date is the SpiritLeaf store at 329 5 St. S.
Province-wide, the AGLCC has issued 55 retail licences.
Exhibit focuses on rare insects
Most visitors marvel at the mammals. When they visit Alberta’s mountain parks they’re excited to see deer, elk and bears.
But they’re the focus of a new Hess Gallery exhibition at the University of Lethbridge.
Western Canadian artist Sarah Fuller has spent time learning about a rare insect, thought to be extinct, but recently discovered on a volcanic islet in the Tasman Sea off the coast of Australia.
She’s spent much longer in the Canadians Rockies, however.
“I really care about the environment, the insects and tiny plants that live there,” she says.
Fuller’s new exhibition, “Refugio”, juxtaposes the fearsome Lord Howe Stick species with some of the smallest creatures living in our Rockies parks.
Small things are easily overlooked, Fuller explains. Insects don’t attract tourists.
“Yet their resilience provides inspiration for the human interface with the natural world.”
Another part of that world is rats, she notes. When colonial explorers’ ships anchored at Lord Howe Island — today a two-hour flight from Sydney — some of the ship’s rats went ashore. In time, the changes they brought to the island’s ecosystem included extinction of the large “sticks.”
More recently, some have been found farther from Australia on Ball’s Pyramid, a volcanic sea stack that rises 500 metres above the ocean. While the islet is not inhabited it does support plant and insect life, Fuller learned during a recent trip to Australia.
And for the large Lord Howe Stick insects, it’s become a sort of refuge. Hiking high in the Rockies, Fuller has learned about another little-known species, the rock crawlers. For survival, they need to live in or under snow.
Climate change and melting glaciers may spell their doom, but for now gallery visitors can see both of these species in close-up video as part of her exhibition. Viewers step into a tiny theatre, reminiscent of the alpine huts provided as refuge for hikers in the Rockies or Alps.
The exhibition, which opened Thursday, will be open weekdays through Jan. 10 in the Hess Gallery on Level 6 in the university’s Centre for the Arts. Admission is free.
LC opens doors to prospective students
Lethbridge College’s open house event was all about exploring possibilities for the over 600 students who came out on Thursday, said LC recruitment and events co-ordinator Jessica Quarterman.
“This is a way to get students excited about what we offer here,” she explained. “We do have applications available today for students; so if they are wanting to come and apply on the spot, they can. But for the most part, it’s just a day to explore and get a good feel for what we have here.”
Thursday’s open house was one of the biggest Lethbridge College has seen in recent years, with a wide variety of students on hand exploring program options, confirmed Quarterman.
Streets Alive on a mission
With colder temperatures here, Streets Alive Mission is in urgent need of adult-sized gloves, toques, scarfs, winter coats and warm footwear, particularly for men.
Their annual Winter Essentials Donation Drive is in full swing, and any help for those less fortunate would be greatly appreciated.
Last year, the mission provided over 1,069 emergency food hampers, 5,811 full sets of clothes and 860 winter coats but are still struggling to help people they serve in the winter months.
Serving 75 per night, and up to 125 people on hot meal night, Streets Alive brings hope to those who feel they have none.
Some of the programs the mission offers is People In Need (PIN), daily feeding program, and the Trusteeship program. These programs are provided by generous donations of community supports and teams of committed volunteers. No government funding is used for mission programs.
Cyclists have spoken
Lethbridge cyclists have spoken. Now planners are considering how the city’s bike-friendly routes can be improved for their use.
Five commuting-related projects were short-listed earlier this year, and interested cyclists were invited to indicate their priorities.
Work may begin next summer, says transportation engineer Adam St. Amant, if a preferred project fits within his budget.
The five possibilities, previously identified as part of the Cycling Master Plan, are:
• Downtown 4 Avenue, between Scenic and Stafford Drives;
• Stafford Drive, 5 Avenue North to 7 Avenue South (excluding overpasses);
• 2A Avenue North, Stafford Drive to 13 Street;
• 6 Street South, 3 Avenue to 7 Avenue; and
• A route alongside Highway 3, Mayor Magrath Drive to 32 Street South.
Open house presentations were made last month to gather input and St. Amant says residents were also invited to submit their comments through the internet. Earlier, officials also sought residents’ views through interviews at the Word on the Street Festival and the season’s final Farmers’ Market.
Nearly 200 people turned up for the open house, he reports.
“We’re pretty happy we’re getting feedback from the wider community as well,” St. Amant says.
With that in hand, transportation department officials will be able to recommend future projects.
City officials are, meanwhile, awaiting word on another pathway project, this one on Scenic Drive North.
Adams scholarship campaign launched
Two scholarships will be offered to Lethbridge students, in memory of a former Lethbridge Collegiate Institute Ram and Lethbridge College Kodiak.
Pat Adams was a member of the Rams basketball team at LCI in the 1980s, who went on to play for the college.
He died this fall after a two-year battle with cancer, at age 52.
Now friends and family members have launched a “GoFundMe” campaign to create an ongoing scholarship at each location. Officials at the college and school will set the award criteria.
“Although Pat moved away from Lethbridge many years ago, his ties to the community run deep,” says Terry Whitehead, a close friend since their school days.
Apart from his years on the basketball court, he says Adams was also well known as a doorman at the Paramount Theatre.
After completing his Communication Arts program at the college, Adams went to work at Microsoft in Seattle, later becoming a technical writer for companies in Silicon Valley and Napa Valley in California.