Over the holiday break from school and work, Galt Museum and Archives invited community members out to take part in some of their most popular activities for youngsters and families to keep them busy over the holidays.
This weekend, the Galt Museum hosted two different activities to spark young minds with creativity and history. As many of the programs they offer are popular with the community, they wanted to bring some of the programming back to not only keep them busy over the holidays, but educate them with local history and exhibits.
“This is one of our top five programs, so what we did is we chose five of our favourite family programs from 2019 and we are repeating them over the Christmas holiday break,” says Janae Redgrave, community program co-ordinator with Galt Museum.
“They have been going on after Christmas here, so I think some families are ready to get out of the house and do something fun together. It is a really good opportunity for families to come together and learn a bit of our local history, as well as come together and get some hands-on activities.”
The Galt Museum’s popular Saturday’s at One program has now been rebranded to Hands-on History which the museum feels properly reflects what the programs offer, as many are associated with creating a craft from scratch, along with learning about local history related to the craft.
“Today’s program is called friendship bracelets, where kids are able to make friendship bracelets out of beads, embroidery floss, or elastics,” says Redgrave.
“The history today, we talked a little bit about an exhibit we had in the summer time called Places, Traces and neighbourhoods, so I thought it was a good fit because we are friends with the people in our neighbourhoods and we talked about the development of the community of Lethbridge, with the first community being Coalbanks in the river valley, and the development of the south, north and west sides of Lethbridge.”
Many of the most popular programs throughout the year for the Galt Museum were ones associated with an exhibit, as participants in the Saturday at One were able to spend their afternoon crafting something to take home, then being able to look through and learn more about where their craft came from.
As families wind down after the holiday season and settle into the new year, Parks Canada is encouraging people to make their reservations early to guarantee their camping spot in national parks across the country.
Alberta Parks has opened their registration for their reservable period, when the parks are in operation. As Parks Canada gears up to open more areas of their parks and welcome visitors, they will now be taking reservations for the April 2020 to March 2021 season.
Jasper National Park will be the first in Alberta to take reservations Tuesday, with Pocahontas, Wabasso, and Whirlpool campgrounds operating at the start of May. Wapiti campground and Palisades cabins are open year round for reservations. Whistlers campground is reported to be closed for the season.
Banff National Park will be launching Wednesday, with most campgrounds opening in early May. Johnston Canyon, Two Jack Main, and Rampart Creek are reported to open in June.
Thursday will be a large launch day for Parks Canada as Waterton Lakes National Park, Wood Buffalo National Park, Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site and Elk Island National Park will be taking reservations for their variety of camping and cabin options, with most opening for operation in May.
Killing a turning point
Former University of Lethbridge sociologist and Middle East scholar, Abdie Kazemipur, says the decision to assassinate Iranian General Qasem Soleimani by the Trump administration in Iraq represents a dangerous turning point in Western-Middle Eastern relations.
“Using that word ‘assassination’ will go a long way in terms of conveying the context and allowing us to capture the consequences of this,” he says. “Because of the atypical nature of this act, I think it has a lot of unfortunate and unusual consequences. I think in the short term what happens as a consequence of this act is the middle ground is starting to disappear. All the moderate voices normally there to make compromises, and are able to bring different sides together, they get lost.”
While open warfare between and U.S. and Iran is a remote possibility, Kazemipur feels the Iranians may turn to less direct, more “symbolic” means to even the score with the U.S., particularly with the Trump administration.
“They (Iran) will try to kind of package that and sell it to the domestic population as the response that was promised,” says Kazemipur.
Cozens gets hero’s welcome
The first Yukon teen ever to play for Canada’s world junior hockey team received a boisterous welcome as he returned to the territory early last Tuesday.
Dylan Cozens, who scored Canada’s first goal in a 4-3 gold-medal victory over Russia, was greeted by family and friends as he arrived in Whitehorse after a 30-hour journey from the Czech Republic.
Yukon’s Community Services Minister John Streicker was among those there, and says the territory is making plans to recognize the 18-year-old centre more formally at a later date.
Cozens says it was “pretty cool” to receive the enthusiastic welcome and he’s looking forward to a week off before returning to his junior club, the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
He told the gathering at the airport that he’s not leaving the house for the next few days.
Cozens became the first from the territory to be selected in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft when he was taken seventh overall by the Buffalo Sabres in June 2019.
House shut down
The Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods (SCAN) unit of the Alberta Sheriffs shut down an infamous alleged drug house in west Lethbridge on Jan. 7, but admitted there was still plenty of work to do with numerous other complaints still outstanding in the city.
Insp. Mike Letourneau of SCAN said his team started investigating the property, located at 82 Assiniboia Way West, in March 2018. But the Lethbridge Police Service has come out about 60 times for complaints associated with the property, all told, over the past two years, Letourneau confirmed, and had raided the home three times.
“In parallel to that (SCAN) investigation the Lethbridge Police Service were hammering this place, and they have done three search warrants on it,” explained Letourneau. “Two of the search warrants, one of which was in July 2019, there was a large amount of methamphetamine seized, a large amount carfentanil seized, cocaine seized. There was a stolen handgun that was loaded, stolen bikes. Lock picks. Scales. Baggies — that was just in July. Then they came back in December and they hit it again with another search warrant. Again, they found methamphetamine, Baggies. The home owner was charged with possession for the purposes of trafficking and numerous other charges.”
And it wasn’t just the LPS taking notice, said Letourneau. Community complainants also witnessed disturbing behaviours at the residence.
“There were windows smashed out of this place in the early morning hours. There was a home invasion at this property where people with balaclavas came in with weapons. Community complainants have observed needle use out front. It’s pretty extreme.”
This is the third alleged drug house closed down within a year in Lethbridge, a statistic Letourneau called “extraordinary.”
Twinning gets support
The Highway 3 Twinning Development Association has received a new level of support for its advocacy efforts with the Alberta Motor Transport Association entering the fray to place the twinning of Hwy. 3 as one of its top five infrastructure priorities for the provincial government’s consideration.
The AMTA represents several heavyweights in the Alberta commercial transport and motorcoach industry, and has a national voice through the Canadian Trucking Alliance and the Canadian Motor Coach Association.
“(This endorsement) gets the AMTA involved,” explains southern Alberta regional AMTA director Brad Beerling. “In the past it has just been the Highway 3 Twinning Development Association. Getting the two associations together will hopefully give it a little bit of an extra push.”
Beerling, whose own company transports oversized loads down Hwy. 3 regularly, says the level of congestion on the highway will only get worse and more dangerous in the years ahead unless the province puts more dedicated focus to the project than it previously has.
“Our drivers, with the company I work for, we haul over-dimensional loads,” Beerling says. “We regularly have people passing us in unsafe areas and speeding. It’s a definite danger to them and our loads, and to oncoming traffic when they are passing in unsafe areas. You put us, mobile homes, other oversized loads and slow-moving farm equipment (on the highway), and only having one lane each way. You don’t have anywhere to go.”
“And then the passing lanes are too short when you have congestion and there is not enough areas for pullouts for the big loads or farm equipment to let people go safely by,” he adds.
Wildlife corridor closer to reality
The Nature Conservancy of Canada has acquired 80 per cent of the land it needs to make the Jim Prentice Wildlife Corridor a reality, and expects to close the deal on the remaining 20 per cent in 2020.
“We when announced it (in late 2018), we were doing a couple of things,” explains Bob Demulder, Alberta regional vice-president with the Nature Conservancy of Canada. “One was to raise a little bit of capital that will allow us to acquire some of the outstanding lands that would be needed to ensure the land in the corridor would stay open and undeveloped. That part was underway…and through some of the money raised we have acquired most of the lands we were looking for. We are actually in discussion with the last couple of land holdings we need to finish this work.”
“And then, at the same time,” he adds, “that would transition us to the next phase, which is then working with the Province of Alberta to finish up the planning around where a wildlife crossing structure of some kind as well as the appropriate fencing that would vector wildlife to use it and keep them away from the highway.”
The wildlife corridor, as the name suggests, is in honour of Alberta’s late Premier Jim Prentice, who tragically died in a plane crash in 2016 at the age of 60. That legacy idea, confirms Demulder, has brought many people on board and accelerated the completion of the land acquisition phase of the new wildlife corridor.
“The municipality has come onside. The province has come onside. And a lot of the corporations who were friends of Jim, his partners of various sorts and his colleagues, have all gotten behind this — and they are helping us get it done,” Demulder states.
Time Air focus of campaign
A group of local airplane enthusiasts is hoping to bring Lethbridge’s aviation past full circle.
The Time Air Historical Society has started a GoFundMe campaign to purchase one of the last original Time Air Fokker F-28s still in existence, and is hoping to raise just over $10,000 to bring the aircraft back to Lethbridge.
“Time Air originated after Air Canada pulled service from Lethbridge,” explains Rik Barry, chair of the Time Air Historical Society. “They were founded right here by (Walter) ‘Stubb’ Ross. They served Lethbridge and area from 1966 until approximately 1992 when they were folded into Canadian Regional. Right before Time Air became part of Canadian Regional, they were the largest regional airline in Canada. They served Alberta, B.C., Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and they flew into two international destinations of Seattle, Washington, and Minneapolis, Minnesota.”
“Time Air was one of the largest employers in Lethbridge,” he adds, “and it was a huge blow to the city losing the corporate head offices when they were relocated to Calgary with the rebranding of Canadian Regional.”
The aircraft (listed as C-FTAV) is currently decommissioned and stored in Saskatoon. It was retired when Air Canada bought out Canadian Regional in the late 1990s. It was originally purchased in 1991 as part of the “Silver Bullet” fleet to mark the 25th anniversary of Time Air in Lethbridge, and is one of just over 100 first editions of the aircraft produced by now defunct aviation company Fokker.
“It is a rare aircraft,” confirms Barry. “The aircraft will not have engines — that’s part of the reason the purchase price is so low. Other than the engines, all parts will be made available to us.”
The salvage company which has carriage over the aircraft has given the Time Air Historical Society until Jan. 31 to come up with the funds to purchase the Fokker F-28; thus the urgency of the GoFundMe campaign, says Barry.
Five charged with impaired
The Lethbridge Police Service Traffic Response Unit conducted multiple check stops over the holiday season, inspecting hundreds of drivers for being under the influence while driving or vehicle operation infractions.
Three check stops were conducted near the end of December, where five people were charged with impaired driving, with a handful of licence suspensions, vehicle seizures and tickets also issued.
“We conducted three check stops over December, 20, 28, and 31. Approximately 600 vehicles went through our check stops,” says Sgt. Kevin Talbot. “We charged five individuals with impaired driving, four were for alcohol impairment and one was for drug impairment. We had 16 licence suspensions, 19 vehicles were seized, five individuals were charged for prohibited driving, so they had a previous suspension, and there was 31 tickets issued and one warrant that was executed, and we had one individual that failed to stop for the check stop.”
Although perfect results from a check stop would be no charges, suspensions or seizures, Talbot says the numbers from the 2019 holiday check stops are fairly average compared to previous years.
This holiday season officers in Alberta were able to ask for a roadside breathalyzer from anyone upon request. During the Lethbridge check stops, breathalyzers were requested to the majority of drivers, and Talbot says the public responded respectfully as everyone understood the purpose behind it.
New West GM brings passion
New West Theatre has a new general manager. Sheri Becker succeeds Kelly Reay, who is now the Lethbridge organization’s artistic director.
“Sheri brings a wealth of experience to the company, in addition to a passion and affinity for the performing arts,” says Reay.
“We are thrilled to embark on the next phase of the company’s legacy, with Sheri in a key leadership role.”
Becker, originally from Sparwood, has been active as a management and business consultant and educator in southern Alberta as well as eastern British Columbia. Her Lethbridge experience includes a position with the Lethbridge Symphony Orchestra.
She has also worked in the financial services industry in Calgary and continues part-time as a portrait photographer.
The mother of four daughters, she’s also active in Lethbridge public school events.
“I’ve already received a round of hugs on my first day,” Becker says. “That’s pretty telling of the kind of environment I’m coming into.”
One of her first priorities, she says, is creating a dinner theatre experience as an ongoing fundraiser for the theatre company.
New West Theatre, now celebrating 30 years entertaining southern Albertans, is a registered non-profit society in Alberta and recognized as a charitable organization by the Canada Revenue Agency.
In addition to five productions through the year, it offers educational events including in-school performances and summer theatre camps.
Playgoers hosting workshop
Lethbridge’s longest running theatre group is holding a workshop. And everyone who’d enjoy being part of a one-act production is invited.
Playgoers of Lethbridge has announced details of a one-day event, Jan. 18, for anyone interested in directing, producing or acting in a one-act show.
Morning and afternoon sessions — both free — will be held at Casa.
At 10 a.m., local people experienced in specific aspects of theatre presentations will offer their insights. Topics will include directing, stage management, adjudication, one-act festival requirements and Playgoers’ resources and support.
Organizers say the afternoon session, starting at 1 p.m., will be “a mass audition opportunity open to anyone interested in performing in a one-act play.”
At the same time, prospective directors are invited to pre-register and bring “sides” from their chosen script.
For pre-registration or further information, all interested may contact Shelly at email@example.com.
Film producer honoured
A southern Alberta film producer has been named one of the top emerging film producers in Canada by the Canadian Media Producers Association, following her success over the last decade.
Gianna Isabella, of Gate 67 Films, always knew she wanted to create movies, even at the early age of five when she began writing. With technology just emerging when she entered the University of Lethbridge, Isabella didn’t see the possibility of the film industry in southern Alberta until the dean of the Fine Arts convinced her to take a look at the New Media program.
“I knew I wanted to be a filmmaker, direct, produce and write, and I started writing when I was five, and it was actually the dean of Fine Arts at the University of Lethbridge who asked me what I was doing with my life and asked me to check out the New Media department,” says Isabella.
“I got a tour and I saw a bunch of students making a movie, and I was surprised that it happened here and not just in Hollywood. I got a feeling for it and then I dove in head first with the first class that I took. One of the first assignments was to make a short film. I didn’t know how to do anything, I didn’t know how to use a computer or a camera, and so I called a friend and she had a camera and we shot a mini gangster movie, which was silent because I didn’t know how to do audio.”
With a steep learning curve, Isabella persevered through the program to receive her Bachelor of Fine Arts in New Media and began helping locals with their film projects.
Prepare for UCP cuts: Phillips
Lethbridge families are being hurt by the United Conservatives’ ongoing budget cuts.
Holy Spirit and Lethbridge District 51 school boards each laid off 15 employees in recent weeks, says Lethbridge West MLA Shannon Phillips. The University of Lethbridge cut 19 positions, she said Thursday.
The non-profit Family Centre has just issued layoff notices to 25 staff members, Phillips told participants at the Southern Alberta Council on Public Affairs. It can’t find out if its funding will continue past March 31.
And the provincial agriculture and forestry department terminated 50 employees before Christmas — including a number of people at the research station in Lethbridge.
And there’s more to come, the Official Opposition’s finance critic said. Front-line health-care staff in Lethbridge could be hard hit as Premier Jason Kenney pushes ahead on plans to eliminate 5,000 public-sector positions across Alberta.
At the same time, Phillips said Kenney has failed to act on projects promised here during the election campaign.
“That’s a double-whammy for Lethbridge,” she said.
As well, Phillips warned Alberta’s property taxes, income taxes and insurance rates will be going up year by year due to the new government’s decisions. And there’s more.
“They’re looking at massive restructuring in our relationship with our health care, education and other social services programs,” she said. Alberta’s professional ambulance service could be handed over to free enterprise.
Flu strains circulating
With three potent influenza strains circulating in the region, Dr. Vivien Suttorp, lead medical officer of health for Alberta Health Services South Zone, is reminding the public free flu shots are still available through local pharmacies and family doctors.
“Even if you have had one influenza type, and have been ill with it, you can still get the others as well,” she explains. “So if you have not had your flu vaccine, we recommend you get the flu vaccine because you will still get protected from the others.”
Suttorp confirms so far this season in the South Zone there has been one clinically proven death from influenza, but stresses that there are likely several more unconfirmed deaths where post-mortem clinical testing for influenza was simply not done.
“Influenza is a bad illness, and the number of deaths we report weekly does not capture all deaths,” she says.
The three types of the flu virus circulating, Influenza B, Influenza A-H1N1 and Influenza A-H3N2, have all caused outbreaks this season at local medical or care facilities, confirms Suttorp.
She says symptoms of the virus are also often mistaken by the public.
“Influenza is a respiratory illness from the influenza virus,” she explains. “Influenza causes fevers, coughs, muscle aches and pains, exhaustion, headaches, etc., and can lead to serious complications. Stomach viruses, gastro-intestinal viruses such as the norovirus, cause vomiting, diarrhea, nausea for usually 24 to 48 hours. This is not flu. Influenza, respiratory illness, does not typically cause vomiting or diarrhea.”
Suttorp advises those who suspect they may have the flu to stay home and take steps to prevent spreading the virus to other family members such as frequent hand-washing and using good cough etiquette such as coughing into sleeves.