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Coast guard begins work to secure derelict ship that risks polluting N.S. river

Coast guard begins work to secure derelict ship that risks polluting N.S. riverBRIDGEWATER, N.S. — The Canadian Coast Guard has started work to secure a derelict navy vessel that poses an environmental risk to Nova Scotia's LaHave River.The agency said in a briefing today that a federal environmental team arrived at the site Dec. 1, and contractors began work on the Cormorant the next day.The first week focused on securing the vessel at the dock in the port of Bridgewater, N.S., with the installation of eight new 60-metre mooring lines and two large fenders.The next step will be to stabilize the vessel and remove bilge water and oil to assist in the righting of the ship, beginning in January.The coast guard found in a study earlier this year that there was an imminent threat of pollution from the vessel secured at the privately owned port facility.It also determined there was no evidence of ongoing maintenance of the vessel, its mooring lines were in poor condition, sea valves weren't sealed and the ship was listing noticeably to one side.The work is being carried out under provisions of the Canada Shipping Act, which stipulate that the owner of the vessel is to pay the costs.However, a spokeswoman for the federal Fisheries Department said there is no cost estimate yet and it remains to be determined how the money will be recovered from the private owners.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 9, 2019.The Canadian Press

Nothing set in stone as NLESD reviews schools for closure

Nothing set in stone as NLESD reviews schools for closureThe Newfoundland and Labrador English School District has five schools potentially up for closure at the end of the school year, but said public consultation needs to be done and nothing has been decided yet..At its public meeting over the weekend, the district issued notices of motion to close five schools as of June 2020. Those schools are: * St. Thomas Aquinas, K-8 (Port au Port). * Stephenville Elementary, 4-5. * Charlottetown Primary, K-3. * Sandstone Academy, K-6 (Ladle Cove). * Pearce Junior High, 8-9 (Burin Bay Arm).Tony Stack, CEO of the school district, said nothing has been officially decided."Where the notice of motion includes even the possibility of a school closure, there has to be further consultation, which includes a public meeting in which members of the board would hear directly from the public based on the proposed motion," said Stack.The school board is working to put together all available information online ahead of a public meeting, to be scheduled in either late January or early February."Any time that you're dealing with a potential closure of a school there is always opposition, and I understand that. Schools are communities; they're much more than bricks and mortar. There's human beings in there," Stack said."Obviously there's a lot of emotion attached to a school community and there will be some people that will be opposed, certainly."Stack said while any talk of closing a school can prompt an automatic response, the purpose of reviewing these school systems is to ensure services are being delivered in the best way possible, to ensure education is the best it can be.Charlottetown Primary currently has just three students, he said; Sandstone Academy's closure would mean the K-6 students would join those in grades 7-12 who are already bused to Phoenix Academy in Carmanville."One of the reasons why this one was looked at was, you've got small numbers in each grade level and there's a social and emotional learning benefit to being with alike age groups," Stack said."And there are some programming advantages and synergies around grouping staffing together."More sustainable programmingIn the Marystown region, the motion to close Pearce Junior High is part of a larger, two-motion plan to streamline where students in the region attend school.Under the first motion, Marystown Central High, which currently has Grade 10-12 students, would take all of the area's 8-12 students, starting September 2020.The second motion would see the reconfiguration of Sacred Heart Academy in Marystown from a K-7 to a K-4 school; Donald C. Jamieson in Burin Bay Arm would change from a K-7 to a 5-7 school."When we went around and consulted, initially we were looking just at the 8-12 factor, but in part of the feedback in consultation we heard there's some advantages to combining the grades," Stack said."You might have a more sustainable French immersion program, for example, if you had all the students in the area flow together through the same grade in the same school, so we put that in as an option."Reconfiguring school resources is a familiar struggle for a province with a declining student population."Decades ago there was 160,000 students in the system. We're down now to under 65,000, so over the years it's been a very stark, sharp dropoff," said Stack, who added the Avalon area is one of the few regions where the student population is not declining.Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

What commuters need to know should SkyTrain workers strike this week

What commuters need to know should SkyTrain workers strike this weekSkyTrain users face a potential system-wide shutdown for three days beginning Tuesday as workers prepare to walk off the job unless a new contract agreement can been reached.Over the weekend, CUPE 7000, which represents approximately 900 SkyTrain workers, announced the shutdown of the Expo and Millennium lines linking Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster, Surrey, Port Moody and Coquitlam.Strike action would start at 5 a.m. PT Tuesday. It comes just weeks after a bus strike in Metro Vancouver was narrowly avoided."This is an unprecedented level of disruption that the union is looking to pursue," said TransLink spokesperson Ben Murphy. Murphy said he's optimistic a deal can be reached but wouldn't reveal any details about the talks because bargaining is ongoing.TransLink says due to legal limitations, no additional bus service will be provided to transit users.The transit authority is warning commuters that buses and Canada Line, in particular, will be much busier than usual.Other options for commuters getting around include:Park and rideThere are 20 Park and Ride locations across Metro Vancouver serving SkyTrain, West Coast Express and major bus hubs.There will be additional designated carpool parking spaces at some Park and Ride lots. TransLink advises using its online trip planner for locations.Car shareThere are several car share companies with vehicles located within walking distance of SkyTrain, SeaBus, and major transit hubs throughout Metro Vancouver.CarpoolingSeveral carpool organizations are available across Metro Vancouver. TransLink recommends gobyRIDE, Poparide and U-Pool for members of the public, while Liftango and RideShark are options for organizations. CyclingUse your own bike or a bike-share service like Mobi.Teleworking/Flexible work hoursWork from home or a satellite location, or consider working hours outside of the peak transit periods of 6-9 a.m. PT and 3-6 p.m. PT.Services not affected * Canada Line * West Coast Express  * Bus service * SeaBus * HandyDART  SkyTrain workers include attendants and control operators, as well as administration, maintenance and technical staff.They and their employer, the B.C. Rapid Transit Company, were at the bargaining table until 1 a.m. PT Monday. Talks are expected to resume Monday at 11 a.m. PT.In a statement, the union said it is committed to reaching a deal with no disruption of services."We understand that this is a massive action that will cause a great deal of inconvenience to our passengers, which is why we hope we can still reach an agreement before Tuesday morning," CUPE 7000 president Tony Rebelo said in a written statement."We have been either at the table or in mediation for almost 50 days now, so it's time to get a deal done."In November, CUPE 7000 members voted 96.8 per cent in favour of job action after months-long talks broke down."We are hopeful and committed to reaching a fair deal without disrupting the valuable service we provide to the residents of this region," company president Michel Ladrak said in a Dec. 6 statement.Anita Huberman with the Surrey Board of Trade says she's concerned any strike action could cost business if people can't get to work."I ask for a conclusion from both sides of this negotiation because I'm sure the workers don't want the economy compromised either," she said.

Greed drove former SNC exec's alleged fraud, corruption scheme: Crown

Greed drove former SNC exec's alleged fraud, corruption scheme: CrownMONTREAL — The Crown has begun final arguments in the criminal trial of former SNC-Lavalin executive Sami Bebawi.A federal prosecutor summarizing the Crown's evidence described the case as one of international fraud and corruption.Anne-Marie Manoukian told jurors today that the alleged crimes were the product of greed.Bebawi, 73, faces eight charges, including fraud, corruption, laundering proceeds of crime, possession of stolen goods and bribery of foreign officials.He has pleaded not guilty to the charges, which involve contracts tied to the Moammar Gadhafi dictatorship in Libya. The trial has centred on interactions with Gadhafi's son, Saadi, who was able to facilitate business dealings in that country.The Crown alleges Bebawi directed the business model used in Libya and pocketed $26 million in the process.The prosecution alleges SNC-Lavalin transferred about $113 million to shell companies used to pay people who helped the company collect money and secure lucrative contracts.What was left in those accounts was allegedly split between Bebawi and a colleague.After choosing not to call any witnesses, Bebawi's lawyers are scheduled to make final arguments Tuesday.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 9, 2019.The Canadian Press

'Kind of lacking:' Injured Bronco wonders why Canada won't fund spinal surgery

'Kind of lacking:' Injured Bronco wonders why Canada won't fund spinal surgeryCALGARY — A hockey player paralyzed in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash says it feels good to be home after spending five weeks in Thailand, where he underwent spinal surgery."It feels good. I mean I felt that cold, cold wind hit my legs, so I'm feeling good. It's good to be back," Ryan Straschnitzki said Sunday night as he wheeled himself into the Calgary airport.The 20-year-old from Airdrie, Alta., who is paralyzed from the chest down, had an epidural stimulator implanted in his spine while he was in Bangkok. A week later, doctors also injected stem cells above and below his spinal injury to try to reverse some of the damage.Videos posted by Straschnitzki and his father in Thailand show him straightening a leg. In another, Straschnitzki kicks a ball.In another clip, while he's strapped into a harness, physiotherapists slowly help him walk with a wheeled machine."It was incredible. I mean the last time I walked beside my dad was before the accident and before I moved away," said Straschnitzki. "So doing that again and just seeing the look in his eyes is motivating to me."Straschnitzki was one of 13 players injured when a semi truck blew through a stop sign and into the path of his junior hockey team's bus at a rural intersection in Saskatchewan in April 2018.Sixteen others on the bus were killed.Tom Straschnitzki said he's not an emotional guy, but watching the progress his son made in Thailand has given him hope."When I actually saw him move his leg, it just took me back to imagining his last steps going onto that bus on that fateful day. And I was just thinking maybe he can go back on the bus one day," he said.The surgery can cost up to $100,000 but isn't covered by public health care or insurance, because it has not been approved by Health Canada. The Straschnitzkis say they're frustrated the treatment isn't available here.Ryan Straschnitzki hopes his experience might at least get the conversation going."Our health-care system is kind of lacking in this area for spinal cord injuries and I think it's huge that Thailand and some other places are getting this started," he said."I think if Canada can step in and advance this program, I think it'll help a lot of people out."Tom and Michelle Straschnitzki said they have been flooded with comments and questions about their son's procedure."They want to try it and ask why doesn't Canada do it? I don't have the answer about Canada but they do it in Thailand and it is not experimental," said Tom Straschnitzki.Health Canada has said it provides licensed spinal cord stimulators but only for pain relief. A spokesman said it has not received an application to have stimulators used to regain motor skills.Ryan Straschnitzki said he isn't expecting a cure but hopes his implant will restore some muscle movement."Just getting that feeling of being able to move something that I wasn't able to move before — and I know core is a huge part of my disability, so anything below my chest is crucial. And after the programming it really helped," he said.Straschnitzki is hoping to make the Canadian sledge hockey team and compete in the Olympics. He even took his sled with him to Thailand and sat in it as part of his rehabilitation there.He said he plans to take a few days off before returning to physiotherapy and hitting the ice again back home.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 9, 2019.Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

Monday 9th of December 2019 06:01:10


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