Friday, December 30, 2011

Leader-Post: Something for everyone to celebrate New Year's in Regina

The year is almost at a close and many events are happening in Regina to start off 2012.

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Brad Grass, who plays Don in the Applause Feast and Follies production of 'Don and Debbie do Vegas,' getting ready for the New Year’s Eve show in Regina December 29, 2011.

Photograph by: Bryan Schlosser, Regina Leader-Post

Additional comments

The show Don and Debby Do Vegas at the Applause Dinner Theatre in Regina comprises of an all-you-can-eat buffet beginning 6 p.m. the performance at 7:30 p.m. and a party to celebrate the new year.

"The cast is extremely talented. The show's very witty, very funny," said Brenda Milligan-Davis, the director of operations for Applause Dinner Theatre in Regina.

The show - Don and Debby Do Vegas - stars Brad Grass, Krysta Konkin, Shanna Jones and Angela Klaassen. It opens on New Year's Eve

Milligan-Davis said one of the show-stopper numbers is All the Single Ladies by Beyoncé featuring Grass and the rest of the cast.

“(The cast members) are all dressed in the black body suits just like the Beyoncé video and doing the full-out choreography from the video,” said Milligan-Davis. "Normally shows get better as they go along. You know, people get into a groove. Well if this show gets better than it was on dress rehearsal, it’s going to be spectacular."

She said the show includes a lot of audience participation, including a magic act. After the show, the cast will perform entertainment numbers as the main tables are cleared away for a dance.

"There will be a dance right up until midnight. There’s free champagne at midnight," said Milligan-Davis. "Then of course ringing in the new year and sticking around and having a good time until the party finally winds down."

Milligan-Davis added the show is for all ages with little sexual or bad content in the show.

Brad Grass who plays Don in the Applause Feast and Follies production
Don and Debbie Do Vegas gets ready for the New Year's Eve show.

Photograph by: Bryan Schlosser, Leader-Post, Leader-Post
She said the show runs until April, but opening night is nearly sold out. Only four tables and one booth are left.

Children can also enjoy the Noon Year's Eve event on Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Saskatchewan Science Centre.

"It really gives the kids a change to celebrate a new year and talk about what that means for them and enjoy that celebration that the adults generally get to do without the kids," said Collette Parks, communications manager with the science centre.

"(Noon Year’s Eve) all wraps up by suppertime so everybody can get home and have a nice meal at home and then if mom and dad want to go out later, they can and the kids have already had a fun time celebrating," continued Parks.

Parks said it’s been quite successful in the past with around 800 attendees and this year, she is expecting around the same number of people. Advance tickets are on sale, but will be offered at the door.

On Sunday, Lt.-Gov. Gordon Barnhart and his wife Naomi will host the Lieutenant Governor’s New Year’s Day Levee at Government House.

"That’s a chance for people to say farewell to him and for him to say farewell to his guests," said Carolyn Speirs, communications manager for the office of the Lieutenant Governor. "They’re an established tradition in the province so there are a lot of people who come back every year, but there are also a lot of newcomers each year — people that have never been to Government House before."

The levee has been taking place in Saskatchewan since Jan. 1, 1884 when Lt.-Gov. Edgar Dewdney held the first New Year’s Levee.

"It is certainly an opportunity to exchange New Year’s greetings," said Speirs. "The house is just so beautifully decorated for Christmas that’s it’s just a really festive atmosphere."

Leader-Post: Three men charged in home invasion

Three Regina men were charged on Thursday in relation to an alleged home invasion on Victoria Avenue.

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Leader-Post: Man sent to hospital after home invasion

A Regina man was sent to hospital after a home invasion early Wednesday morning.

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Leader-Post: Two in court after two restaurants held up

Two 20-year-old robbery suspects appeared in court Wednesday afternoon after two unconnected robberies in Regina late Tuesday night.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Leader-Post: 2011 a year of growth for Regina

A view of Regina’s downtown area from the
15th floor of City Hall on Dec. 21, 2011.

Photograph by: Bryan Schlosser, Regina Leader-Post files
 Lights dance in the night at City Square plaza as a car turns right from Scarth Street onto 12th Avenue. Construction is idle in the dark, but work will continue in the morning. It is symbolic of all the development emerging in an ever-changing city.

Additional Comments

"(The Global Transportation Hub [GTH]) is clearly becoming an economic driver in Regina," says John Hopkins, the CEO of the Regina and District Chamber of Commerce. "It’s very, very positive in terms of continuing to grow the community, continuing to provide opportunities for people, to ensure that kids no longer have to make the decision to move elsewhere."
View of Hill Tower III construction from adjacent Hill
Tower in Regina, Sask. on Saturday Aug. 27, 2011.

Photograph by: Michael Bell, Leader-Post files
Hopkins adds the GTH will give Regina a more diverse economic scene, apart from the traditional agriculture, government and oil and gas mining.

"This helps us to diversify so when the commodity markets are turned down, that we will continue to have this part of the economy continuing to move," says Hopkins. "It’s a very stable sort of part of the economy."

Hopkins says as with any type of economic growth and job creation, certain challenges will have to be overcome, including bypasses for trucks and labour supply.

"We would hope that we’ll see some more work done on the bypasses to ensure that the truck traffic that is destined for highways actually ends up on the highways as opposed coming through the city," says Hopkins.

"But Regina is sort of viewed as a land of opportunity now in the Canadian context," he says. "So people are coming here and looking for those opportunities."

But Hopkins and Fiacco said with more people creates the need for more housing. The increase in housing is good news for Stu Niebergall, the executive director of the Regina and Region Home Builders’ Association.
A new $1.5 million apartment building under construction
on the 1100 block of 15th Ave. on Dec. 13, 2011.

Photograph by: Bryan Schlosser, Leader-Post files
"It’s all inter-related," says Niebergall. "Housing is one of those items that affects every part of life."

Niebergall says 2011 has been a particularly good year for the association, which represents 95 per cent of all land development in the community.

As of mid-December, the association built 1,530 housing units this past year, which is 26.9 per cent higher than 2010.

The number of units built translated into 6,500 jobs, $30 million in wages and $60 million in federal and provincial income tax. It also created $50 million in GST revenue and $19 million in PST.

Out of those 1,530 homes, 879 were single-detached homes - an increase of 35 per cent - and 651 were multi-unit homes, an increase of 17 per cent. In total, 57 per cent of the homes were single-detached and 43 per cent were multi unit.

"When housing is being built in the community, it has some very large economic impacts to the community and in this situation, for the most part, positive," says Niebergall. "As our industry builds those homes and those neighbourhoods that house our newest residents, in turn our industry also becomes a very important driver in our community."

Construction was bustling in the The Greens on Gardiner
subdivision in southeast Regina.

Photograph by: Don Healy, Leader-Post, Leader-Post files

 Neighbourhoods on the outer limits of the city have seen an increase for 2011. These include the Greens on Gardiner and the Creeks in east Regina, Harbour Landing in the south and Westhill in the west.

Other neighbourhoods include Evans Court and Canterbury Park.

"Many of our new communities that are being built today are already embracing many of the smart growth principles," says Niebergall. "As each generation of homes gets built, the quality of homes continue to improve and I think there’s a real, strong connection between that and the improvements that have been made."

Because of the more environmentally friendly methods used in building homes, over the past decade, the housing sector in the province uses 9.7 per cent less energy and releases 17.3 per cent less greenhouse gases compared to 1990, even though the number of homes have increased by 6.9 per cent.

The association has also been taking part in the Design Regina process. Design Regina was launched by the City of Regina on May 19.

"We feel we’ve got a direct stake in that official community plan as it will determine what Regina looks like in the future, especially as it relates to housing and community development," says Niebergall.

Alaina Harrison, Carmichael Outreach’s housing co-ordinator, is very familiar with another side of the growth.

“When you’re bringing in people to and encouraging people to come and work and live in Regina and Saskatchewan, you have to have a plan for where they’re going to live and I don’t know if that planning has happened or that has happened in an effective way,” says Harrison. “There just doesn’t appear to be enough housing for the people for the in-migration that’s been occurring.” [Saskatchewan Rental Housing Supplement (SRHS)]

Photos of City Square in downtown Regina November 3, 2011.

Photograph by: Bryan Schlosser, Leader-Post files

Despite the housing issue, City of Regina Mayor Pat Fiacco said there has been a real focus on downtown, particularly the City Square plaza set to have a grand opening in spring 2012.

But with all of the changes downtown, not everyone is happy with the changes.

Hopkins stressed the challenges in reduced traffic flow and parking issues.
Photos of City Square in downtown
Regina November 3, 2011.

Photograph by: Bryan Schlosser
Leader-Post files
"The entire traffic flow situation has been confusing for a lot of people," said Hopkins. "Our members were of the view that while it was a challenge, the light at the end of the tunnel was always that 12th Avenue would be open once the plaza construction was done."

But on Nov. 4, the city’s administration submitted a proposal to city council to consider keeping the plaza pedestrian-only. On Nov. 8, city council voted to keep the plaza closed to traffic until a final decision is made in June 2012 pending a city administration transportation study.

Hopkins said this change is negatively affecting business and a survey was done where 52 per cent of the members opposed keeping it closed, while 35 per cent were in favour and 11 per cent were unsure.

"How did we get to a situation like this where the original plan was to always keep it open for traffic flow and then all of a sudden we get a report from the administration at city hall that says, ‘Let’s close it permanently’?" said Hopkins.

Leader-Post: Adjusting to Canadian life challenging for newcomers

Masha Martynyuk teaches a beginner class of English as a
second language at the Regina Immigrant Women's Centre.
Photograph by: Bryan Schlosser, Leader-Post, Leader-Post
Concentration and determination shone in the eyes of an intermediate level English literacy class.

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Additional comments

The Regina Immigrant Women's Centre (RIWC) is one of many centres and institutions in Saskatchewan that offer English as a second language (ESL) classes at different skill levels.

"(The program) helps clients to learn how to speak English, read and write a little bit," said Sachdev. "I feel that for any newcomer to Canada and particularly for women, it’s really important to be able to communicate in English because the facets of their lives take them all over."

Sachdev said many newcomers don’t even have a Canadian Level Benchmark (CLB) 1, which is the most basic knowledge of English.

Before immigrants are eligible to attend ESL classes at the Regina Open Door Society or the Adult Centre for Employment Readiness Training (ACERT), they have to have a CLB 3.

Once the CLB is 4 or higher, people can attend classes ESL classes at other institutions like SIAST.

Sachdev said the RIWC is focused on women because of the heavy burdens placed on them, but both genders are more than welcome.

Sachdev said in recent years, classes have become more diverse, which leads to additional challenges of learning ESL because of cultural differences.

"Sometimes we have women who don’t want to be in a class with men and we have to deal with that challenge in terms of explaining to them that in Canada, it’s very hard to segregate based on gender,” said Sachdev. “We want to help them to integrate into Canadian society, not to stay on the outskirts of it."

She said funding is a primary issue for the centre, but her goal is to start a library at the centre for the learners and gather simple kindergarten to Grade 5 reading materials.

"We’re trying to see if we can get … very, very simple books that children in schools start to read from and develop a library here so that learners who come in the literacy program can learn to borrow a book to read," said Sachdev.

She added another big challenge is some women, depending on where they come from, may not even be literate in their native language.

"As they advance into the program they also start to learn how to read and recognize letters," said Sachdev. "It’s more of a challenge for the instructor to assist them with that because if they’ve never written before, it’s tough."
Theresa Zwarich (standing) teaches an intermediate class of English as a second language at the immigrant Women’s Centre in Regina.

Photograph by: Bryan Schlosser, Regina Leader-Post

Once their CLB reaches level 3, newcomers can qualify for the Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program offered by the Regina Open Door Society.

LINC teacher Amy Strauch, who has been teaching at LINC for the past three years, said the lower the level, the smaller the class sizes to give them one-on-one attention.

She said a big part of the challenge is for the community to be welcoming to newcomers.

"These are people who are trying really hard to establish themselves in the community," said Strauch. "English can be used by all people, regardless of their accent."

"Personally, I lived in China for three years and I was so very, very fortunate because I had two or three Chinese families that kind of adopted me," added LINC ESL manager Laura  Sheppard. "When I wasn’t quite sure where you got something or how you did something, I could ask them and boy it made such a big difference."

Sheppard said LINC classes are federally and provincially funded and there are 344 students enrolled in the program. She added that all of the teachers have teaching degrees and experience teaching English as a second language.

Sheppard said the program is designed to prepare students for life in Canada, but that isn’t an easy task.

"To me, always what’s helpful is for any of us to try to put ourselves in the situation that if we decided to move by ourselves or with our family, let’s say to take up work in Tokyo and everybody speaks Japanese and nobody speaks English, what would it be like for us?" said Sheppard.

Marion Radmacher, a retired teacher and volunteer tutor from Grace Mennonite Church for the Education and Employment for Refugees and Immigrants program at ACERT, said English is the biggest challenge for newcomers.

She recalled one student who couldn’t grasp the meaning of the phrase ‘to board up a window.’

"He thought it was like in a classroom, the board on the front of the classroom," said Radmacher. "So the multiple meanings of board - he just shook his head."

In the ACERT program, the classes are structured to help students attain their GED in a shorter period of time, said Murray Giesbrecht, the director of ACERT.

Giesbrecht added the class sizes are very small, usually no more than 10 students, to maximize one-on-one interaction. He said in addition to language challenges, he’s seen students struggle with the different climate, political structure and geography.

"We have some people that are from sub-Saharan Africa that are used to a much more temperate climate throughout their entire lives," said Giesbrecht. "Then they get here, dropped off in the middle of Saskatchewan and sort of adjusting to all of those things is certainly a reality for them too."

Leader-Post: Cougars remember former teammate

By Ian Hamilton and Lisa Goudy

Tyson Sievert played just one season with the University of Regina men's hockey team, but in that time he made an impression on Cougars head coach Blaine Sautner.

"He was a good, honest, hard-working kid," Sautner said Tuesday after hearing that Sievert, 25, had been killed earlier in the day in a single-vehicle collision near Fort Qu'Appelle. "You knew just what you were going to get from him every night."

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Leader-Post: Sask. flooding top weather story of 2011

Environment Canada picked the severe flooding in Saskatchewan
this past spring as the top weather story of 2011.

Photograph by: Troy Fleece, Regina Leader-Post files
Severe flooding ravaged Saskatchewan this past spring and summer and on Thursday, it was listed by Environment Canada as the top story of the year.

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Environment Canada - Weather and Meteorology - Canada's Top Ten Weather Stories for 2011

Environment Canada's Top 10 List:

1. Historic Flood Fights in the West (Prairies)
2. Slave Lake Burning (Slave Lake, Alberta)
3. Richelieu Flooding…Quebec’s Longest-Lived Disaster (Southern Quebec)
4. Down on the Farm: Doom to Boom (Across Canada)
5. Tornado Goderich in a Wild Week of Weather (Ontario)
6. Good Night, Irene...and, Katia, Maria and Ophelia (Atlantic)
7. Summer: Hummer or Bummer? (Across Canada)
8. Arctic Sea Ice near Record Low (Arctic)
9. Groundhog Day Storm: Snowmageddon or Snowbigdeal? (Ontario, Quebec, Maritimes)10. Wicked Winds from the West (Southern Alberta)

David Phillips, senior climatologist with Environment Canada said the flooding in the Prairies deserved more recognition than just the top weather story of the year.

“It should be the number one news story, not just the number one weather story. It should be the number one news story for this country. It really was such a profound effect on the economy, on people’s lives, on the numbers of people and the unprecedented view,” said Phillips.

"These were epic events," he continued.

Phillips said the flooding could only be described as a "perfect storm."

"We use that as a cliché, that notion of the perfect storm, but in many ways it was. I remember last year when I was talking about the top 10 and it wasn’t my origination.

"I talked to some water engineers and after that weather bomb in October of 2010, they said they were very worried about flooding in the spring. This could have an implication there and when you looked at it, the weather afterwards just got progressively worse.

"It was just almost as if you could have said to Hollywood, order me up the worst possible flood and what would the conditions that would do to produce that and nature delivered on it," said Phillips.

He added that the flood was unprecedented in Saskatchewan and Manitoba because of how long it lasted.

"The best kind of flood is a come to convince that it hits and runs. You get drenched in rain and then you start the clean-up right away.

These ones that you face, it seems to be in many years, is just the psychological wear down.

I mean, it beats you up physically, that’s given with all the sandbagging and bailing and the evacuating that just goes on, but also the fact that it’s just the constant story that consumes everybody," said Phillips.

The flooding effects on farmers was the reason number four on the top 10 list was Down on the Farm: Doom to Boom.

After the growing season began with the ground extremely wet, the agricultural sector of the economy was under threat.

"It was almost as if Nature had enough and was punishing you and finally on the first day of summer, some dryness came at the perfect time, some heat, the crop moved on and then the perfect, perfect kind of fall harvest," said Phillips.

"I mean, three months of just the gorgeous, warmest, dryest period on record. I mean, by Thanksgiving the harvest was over. They were still harvesting here in Ontario in December," Phillips continued.

"It became an economic boom and that’s why I talk about it from doom, which it was, to boom. I mean, it just shows you that farmers are the most optimistic people around.

"They never throw in the towel until they absolutely have to," said Phillips. "It's really a tremendous credit to those farmers who did persevere, re-seed or waited and stuck it out and didn't just pack it in."

Leader-Post: Regina mom of twins encouraging others to donate blood

Michelle Grodecki and her twin boys Oscar, left, and James
were at Canadian Blood Services to hand out special thank you
cards to people donating blood on Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2011.
Here they visit with Joachim Smadu who was giving blood and
registered nurse Odile LeBlanc.
Photograph by: Troy Fleece, Regina Leader-Post
Twins James and Oscar Grodecki are lucky to be alive for the holidays.

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To donate, call 1-888-2 DONATE (1-888-236-6283) or visit Canadian Blood Services.

Additional comments and full quotes

"There was times we didn’t think we were going to take our boys home and to find out that they’re here with us and most of it was due to great doctors, but the blood helped them tremendously," said Michelle Grodecki.

Michelle Grodecki and her twin boys Oscar, left,
and James were at Canadian Blood Services to hand
out special thank you cards to people donating
blood on Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2011.

Photograph by: Troy Fleece, Regina Leader-Post
"I just think blood’s the ultimate gift and it’s one of those things that you give where people don’t get any idea of where your blood goes and to be able to see who these boys are and the fact that we have a great family because of someone like a donor, it was really important to us to come and just say thank you,” Michelle continued.

Michelle Grodecki (not pictured) and her twin boys Oscar, left, and James were at Canadian Blood Services to hand out special thank you cards to people donating blood on Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2011.

Photograph by: Troy Fleece, Regina Leader-Post

According to Jamie Lewis, community development co-ordinator with Canadian Blood Services, until Jan. 7, 975 appointments need to be filled. Across Saskatchewan, more than 5,000 blood donations are needed.

“The need is ongoing. It’s always there,” said Lewis. “(Michelle and her boys) wanted to think of a way to give back to the blood donors that gave of themselves and allowed her to have extra time with her boys and when they needed it the most.”

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Leader-Post: Salvation Army Christmas Kettle campaign seeking more volunteers in Regina

The Salvation Army is still looking for volunteers for its 13
Christmas Kettle locations in Regina.

Photograph by: Don Healy, Regina Leader-Post files

Christmas Eve is only days away and the Salvation Army is looking for more volunteers.

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Additional Comments from Chad Jeremy, spokesperson for the Salvation Army

"The reason the volunteers are so important is because without the volunteers, we can’t be out there and we can’t have those bubbles out. We need someone standing out there at the kettle stands, the kettle bubbles and that’s how we raise our money.

"I mean, that’s simply put. That’s how we raise our money and without it, it would be impossible to reach our goal. Salvation Army and many other charities are all about community and this is a good example of that.

"Volunteers -  without them we wouldn’t be able to do what we do, absolutely not," said Jeremy. 

Jeremy added that for the second consecutive year, the Salvation Army used new technology to make donating more convenient, such as portable debit and credit machines and quick response (QR) codes that can be scanned with a smart phone or BlackBerry.

While Jeremy said he didn’t have any numbers, he said he would be surprised if those technologies raised $1,000 because it’s new and he expects it to be more successful as people get used to it.

"This is something that we’re going to have to dig deeper into and that’s why we’re starting now so people are aware that we have this technology and in the future, maybe that’s all we’ll be using, who knows?

"But as of right now, I don’t think it’s making a big dent in terms of how much we’ve raised," said Jeremy.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Timeline of Occupy Regina

During the time the Occupy Regina movement was set up in Victoria Park, I covered most of the protest for the Regina Leader-Post.

As a result of my experience and knowledge of the movement, I decided to compile a timeline documenting the major events in the Occupy Regina movement, beginning with the Occupy movement that started it all.

Behind each date, click on the word 'story' to find more details on each of the events as officially reported by the media.

September 17, 2011: Occupy Wall Street began in New York City with protesters in a park near the New York Stock Exchange. (story)

October 5: Plans were in place for Occupy Regina to be set up on Oct. 15 in Victoria Park. (story)

October 15: More than 100 protesters gathered in Victoria Park to participate in the official beginning of Occupy Regina. (story)

October 18: There are 10 tents set up at the Occupy Regina site.  (story)

November 1: The Occupy Regina protesters began to prepare for winter in the dropping temperatures. There were still 30 tents set up in Victoria Park. (story)

November 2: Occupy Saskatoon began to disband. (story)

November 3: The Regina Chapter of the Council of Canadians donated a portable toilet to the Occupy Regina protesters. Most protesters said they had no plans to leave despite the break-up of Occupy Saskatoon.

Dwayne Flaman, the manager of bylaw enforcement for the City of Regina, said there are no plans to force the protesters to leave. (story)

November 7: The City of Regina asked the Occupy Regina protesters to voluntarily pack up their camp. The portable toilet was also taken away. (story)

November 9: Approximately 60 Occupy Regina protesters rally in front of city hall. The City of Regina had also shut off the camp's power only a few days after it started.

At 12:40 p.m., two protesters went inside city hall to discuss three demands:

                                        1. To be allowed to stay in their tents in Victoria Park

                                        2. To have their portable toilet returned

                                        3. To have their power at the camp restored

At 12:45 p.m., all protesters went into city hall demanding to speak with Mayor Pat Fiacco, which was not permitted.

At 4:45 p.m., all protesters left peacefully when city hall closed. (story)

November 10: The City of Regina served the Occupy Regina protesters eviction notices. The notices stated the protesters were violating the city's Parks and Open Space bylaw, which forbids people to remain in any city park between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.

The notices outlined three demands:

                                        1. To not protest in any city park between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.

                                        2. To remove all shelters and tents permanently

                                        3. To remove all personal property

The notices stated the protesters had until November 12 at 8 a.m. to leave, but it would not be enforced until November 14. Glen Davies, the city manager, said the next step would most likely be ticketing. The maximum fine is up to $2,000. (story)

November 12: About a dozen tents remained at the Occupy Regina camp. (story)

November 14: At 11:13 p.m., members of the Regina Police Service handed out seven tickets to Occupy Regina protesters.

One 46-year-old man was taken into custody on a breach unrelated to the bylaw offence. Five men and two women were issued tickets with a mandatory court appearance date set for December 14. (story)

November 15: At 11:30 p.m., two more protesters were issued tickets by Regina police for remaining in the park. (story)

November 16: Members of the Regina Police Service and City of Regina bylaw enforcement tore down the remaining nine tents at Victoria Park. All nine tents were empty.

By 5:40 a.m., the entire camp was dismantled.

Davies said the nylon tents were meant for use in the summer and were a health concern for the protesters with declining temperatures. He added tent occupants had open fires in the tents with cardboard floors.

As of the afternoon, there were no signs of any protesters in the park. (story)

December 14: Occupy Regina protesters appeared in municipal court. Lawyer Noah Evanchuck adjourned the matters until January 17. Evanchuck added protesters were planning to challenge the tickets based on what they believe a violation of their rights.

Lonnie Mickel spoke on his own behalf and said he wasn't in the park and was only on the sidewalk. The judge entered a not guilty plea and set a January 25 trial date. (story)

Leader-Post: Sask. community projects receive grants

For the Nipawin and District Regional Park, its upcoming spray park is for the whole community.

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Nipawin and District Regional Park

Community Initiatives Fund (CIF)

Complete List of CIF Grant Recipients

Additional comments and full quotes

Randall Kerluke, Nipawin and District Regional Park board member

"We had a spray park that was kind of an old converted paddle pool. Some of the existing board members from years ago had created a spray park just from some copper tubing and stuff like that.

Well (it) basically doesn’t meet the needs of what the park is today and from safety features and stuff like that, our board decided we needed to look at another water feature."

"The Nipawin area — we believe we’re growing. we have a number of things that are happening up in this area and I think it’s always important to see some different capital projects and for myself or some of the board members, we believe we’ve got to continue to move forward and build some of those different types of things and enhance not only the park, but the community because it’s going to keep people coming to the area and it’s something else for younger families to do in the area."

"There’s different people that go out there for a simple hot dog or wiener roast and that sort of thing so you’ve got a lot of different ranges of users and something like this gives them another attraction for sure and something that the parents, I guess what we wanted to do was have something where the parents could feel safe, drop their kids off and even partake in the enjoyment of a spray park.

So it’s something that seems to be attracting almost all user groups."

- Randall Kerluke

Tracey Mann, Community Initiatives Fund Executive Director

"We support communities completely throughout the province so it’s really to support efforts that are already happening, to support volunteer-led initiatives and oftentimes, particularly with things like the small capital projects, generally there aren’t funds easily available to support those kinds of programs and so I think by being able to support communities in that way it brings a lot of value.”

– Tracey Mann

Leader-Post: Two more Fort Qu’Appelle homicide suspects sought

The Fort Qu’Appelle RCMP is requesting public assistance in finding two more suspects related to an investigation into a homicide.

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Leader-Post: Man in hospital with serious injuries after being hit by car in Regina

A 52-year-old man remained in the hospital with serious injuries Wednesday, a day after being struck by a vehicle in Regina.

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Leader-Post: Highway Hotline launches Twitter feed

As a way to increase awareness of road conditions this winter, the Highway Hotline launched its Twitter feed on Wednesday.

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Highway Hotline Twitter account

Highway Hotline Facebook page

Highway Hotline home page

Leader-Post: Grenfell, Yorkton in semifinals in Aviva Community Fund competition

Photos of empty lots in Yorkton October 18, 2011 where
 homes once stood before flooding destroyed them. The
area may soon be redeveloped into a skateboard park.

Photograph by: Bryan Schlosser, Leader-Post files
If the Grenfell pool doesn’t get extensive repairs soon, there won’t be a pool at all.

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Useful links:

Town of Grenfell

City of Yorkton

Overview of Grenfell's Save Our Pool:

(Source: Aviva Community Fund website posting)

"The Grenfell pool is in desperate need of extensive repairs very soon.

The harsh winters have taken their toll on the concrete in & around the pool causing a lot of shifting, cracking, settling & etc.

These repairs have been estimated at about $300,000, depending on what condition the plumbing is in underground, which is unknown until the concrete can be torn up.

While the pool facility itself is owned by the Town of Grenfell, the pool, campground, golf course & ball diamonds fall under the Grenfell Regional Park Authority, a non-profit organization which runs on very limited funds.

What is made is paid back to the Town at the end of each year to help pay a portion of the costs for the maintenance of the grounds & pool which is done by the Town men.

Some of you may think “we could do without a pool”, but please consider the following:

~ the pool employs people, who would obviously be without summer employment if the pool had to close.

~ without a pool the campgrounds would not be nearly as busy, in fact about 85% of the camping in the sites is by people who want to make use of the pool.

~ without the campers the golf course may see a decrease in daily golf fees, of which the Golf Club keeps, causing the Golf Club hardship.

~ without the campers & pool there would be a large decline in the summer visitors coming to Grenfell to stay, these people spend money in our businesses.

~ without these recreational things the town looks less appealing to young families who may consider moving to our town.

~ our pool provides life saving swimming lessons to our children.

~ our pool provides a source of recreation & exercise to people of all ages.

Bottom line is...we need our pool; for Grenfell, surrounding area farmers & communities, for everyone that enjoys the grounds all summer long. Please vote to help us...SAVE OUR POOL!"

This idea did not receive enough votes to make it to the finals.

Overview of Yorkton's skateboard, bike and walking park:

(Source: Aviva Community Fund website posting)

"Saskatchewan, Where Good Things Happen!

Attached please find our updated submission for the Aviva Community Fund contest.

There was some hesitation in choosing a category when submitting our project as it falls into the criteria of more than one of the proposed categories.

• Neighbourhood
• Health
• Well-Being
• Youth

All excellent categories; however as we needed to choose one we opted for the “Youth” category.

We chose this category simply because **young people** are the future!

Included in our submission you will find the following:

Video Messages:
• Premier Brad Wall
• Joan McCusker
• Dave Rodney
• Jarret Stoll

Support letters from:
• Mayor of Yorkton, James Wilson.
• Saskatchewan Party MLA, Greg Ottenbreit.
• S/SGT Joe Milburn of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
• A letter of support from the Yorkton Alliance of Asset Champions.

Our Story:
The City of Yorkton is in the midst of a major downtown revitalization as a result of losses suffered from a catastrophic flood on July 1st, 2010.

The flood affected over one third of our city’s residents including the downtown core and its many businesses including the McDonald’s and Dairy Queen Restaurants, both of which were total losses.

After 15 months of being out of business both restaurants are now operational again.

Situated between these two businesses is Brodie Avenue.

There were 14 dwellings on this avenue and all of them suffered extensive damage to the point where they were deemed irreparable.

The City of Yorkton was faced with a predicament!

Do the homeowners rebuild in the same location and run the risk of future flooding or do they work with the residents in helping them purchase homes and relocate to other areas of the city which would leave the city the option to deal with Brodie Avenue properly. They chose the latter.
Thus the creation of the now proposed Brodie Avenue Redevelopment Project.

This project will consist of rebuilding the entire street to a “green space” consisting of a catch basin and park area to protect against future loss of property from flooding.

When funding becomes available a future skateboard/bike park will be integrated into the project.
This project is more than a skateboard/bike/rollerblade park.

This facility will be here for many years and it will allow young people to go outside and get active, help them develop social skills and most importantly let them be kids while they can!

Skateboard/Bike parks have a long history of being utilized and in fact TSN is now covering skateboarding on a regular basis; a testament to the longevity and sustainability of this activity.

Due to the importance of prevention of any future flooding the financial commitment from the City of Yorkton is currently targeted for the “Catch Basin/Park” portion of the Brodie Avenue Redevelopment Program.

Unfortunately, the Skateboard/Bike Park is currently penciled in as a “future consideration”; however, should our contest submission be successful the City of Yorkton is prepared to match the $150,000.00 prize and get the project started immediately!

The shortfall would be made up through donations from the private sector. (Please see attached letter from the Mayor of Yorkton).

The cost and timelines of the entire project are as follows:

• $2.3 million for the catch basin and parkway (currently underway)

• $400,000 for landscaping and trees and walking paths (spring/summer 2012)

• $350,000 for the Skateboard/Bike/Rollerblade park (City has committed $150,000 if the Aviva community fund project is successful and a completion date of fall of 2012)

The City of Yorkton is prepared to start this project in the early spring of 2012 and have it completed by the fall of 2012.

Discussions are currently underway between the City of Yorkton and park designers in the event that we are successful with our bid to win with the “Aviva Community Fund” contest.

In review of our submission a question was asked about the “originality” of this idea.

After looking at all of the facts it is clear that this one of the most unique ideas in the contest due to the complexity of the project.

This idea has no limitations on who it affects nor an expiry date. It is for all generations!

The benefits to youth through activity and personal development are incalculable but have been well documented.

Our City is committed to the upkeep and ongoing maintenance of this project.

It is also unique that an entire downtown sector of a City will no longer be affected by any future flooding potentially saving millions of dollars in property damage as well as preventing personal hardship.

Respectfully submitted by:
Dave Nussbaumer, CAIB Farrell Agencies Ltd.
The City of Yorkton
Tucker Chornomud Chairperson Yorkton Skateboard Association
Nathan Grayston Co-Chair Yorkton Skateboard Association"

This idea is a finalist in the competition.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Leader-Post: Free transit in Regina on New Year's offers safe rides home

Mayor Pat Fiacco launches the city’s Ding in the New
Year program with help from Police Chief Troy Hagen at
McNally’s Pub Dec. 13, 2011. The service provides for free
transit service on New Year’s Eve between 7 p.m. and
2:15 a.m. New Year’s Day.

Photograph by: Bryan Schlosser, Regina Leader-Post
The new year is fast approaching and partygoers will once again receive free transit on New Year’s Eve.

Read more

City of Regina Transit Services - find out routes for the Ding in the New Year program

Regina Transit - Trip Planning

Statistics from Regina Police Chief Troy Hagen

"A communication is more than a human need. It's an inevitable part of our modern lives.

"20.1 million Canadians aged 13 or over have a cell phone.

"Over 3 million Canadians have Twitter accounts.

"In Regina alone, 140,760 residents aged 13 or over are frequent users of Facebook.

"In total over 17 million people in our country participate in a social networking such as Twitter, Facebook or other social media.

"Instant communicating with citizens, friends, family and businesses haas become cxommonplace in our society today.

"Communication is also a key factor in safety.

"We dial 911 when we see someone hurt or in trouble.

"We phone a friend to help with a heavy couch.

"We text our children to make sure they have a safe ride home.

"We phone a taxi to make sure we have a safe ride home.""Through the RID or Report Impaired Drivers program, we've received over 1,400 phone call this year.

"(As of Dec. 13), there have been 547 drivers that have been found to be exceeding the legal limit, 13 of which were inovlved in accidents involving bodily harm."

Additional comments from Mayor Pat Fiacco

"It's really about judgment and making that good decision and we’re helping them make an easy decision and that’s by taking public transit on New Year's.

It’s really simple. If you decide to drink, leave your keys at home and get on the bus and the bus is going to take you to all these places free of charge."

 - Mayor Pat Fiacco

Friday, December 9, 2011

Leader-Post: FCC exceeds United Way campaign goal

The amount raised by Farm Credit Canada's (FCC) 2011 United Way campaign exceeded the campaign goal.

Read more

Leader-Post: French program enrolment numbers growing in Sask.

Nine-year-old Serena Chartrand’s first phrase in French was “Give me your hand” because of a vivid memory with her father.

Read more

Why is 2012 the Year of the Fransaskois instead of Year of the Francophone?

Paul Heppelle, the president of the Assemblée communautaire fransaskoise (ACF) said it is because a Francophone is anybody who speaks French and does not distinguish the Saskatchewan identity.

He said that ‘Fran’ comes from ‘Français’ which describes the language. The ‘sask’ comes from ‘Saskatchewan,’ which is the place they helped build and now live in and the ‘ois’ in French means ‘a person who.’

Therefore, a Fransaskois is a person who speaks French and lives in Saskatchewan.

Eleven-year-old Max Berg, a Grade 6 student at the francophone school, école Monseigneur de Laval, had more to say about the Year of the Fransaskois.

“The francophones and more importantly Fransaskois can have their important time where they’re important and I feel that this is very important to me and I’m very happy that it’s happening,” said Berg.

What will the Year of the Fransaskois incorporate?

"For over a century, before Saskatchewan was ever a province, francophone settlers from Europe, Eastern Canada and the United States began to arrive in this land to build a better life," Provincial Secretary Wayne Elhard said in a news release.

"These settlers and the generations that followed, our province's Fransaskois, have continued to not only survive but flourish and have grown into a vibrant community that is now an integral component of the history and identity of the great province of Saskatchewan."

The Assemblée communautaire fransaskoise (ACF), the primary francophone organization in the province, is also celebrating its centennial in 2012. The news release stated a celebration will be held by the ACF in Duck Lake on Feb. 25. 

"Fransaskois culture is distinctive to the province of Saskatchewan," stated the release. "The year long celebration is an opportunity for all residents no matter their heritage, or the language that they speak, to celebrate this unique aspect of our province.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Leader-Post: Drummer Mitch Dorge interacts with Regina students

Crash Test Dummies drummer Mitch Dorge with grade eight
student Kaitlyn Tonita as he talks to students at Douglas Park
school in Regina on Dec 06, 2011.

Photograph by: Don Healy, Regina Leader-Post
Mitch Dorge was filled with energy as he captivated students Tuesday morning.

Read more

Additional Comments and Related Links

Mitch Dorge: "You have to build a level of trust and if you’re going to build trust with kids, you more or less got to show them that you’re a little crazier than they are and kids like crazy. They like something that’s off the wall and I want to build that trust with them.

Crash Test Dummies drummer Mitch Dorge gave an
interactive presentation to students at Douglas Park
school in Regina on Dec 06, 2011.

Photograph by: Don Healy, Regina Leader-Post
"I want to let them know, ‘Hey, you know what, we’re on the same plane here. I’m just as crazy as you guys are. I’m not the adult. I just happen to be someone who’s been on the planet longer, that’s all.’ And I want them to feel that. I want them to feel that I’m not standing up here as the adult, as the lecturer.

"I want them to be comfortable with the idea that I’m one of you. I just happen to be living longer, that’s all. I’m not the wise and all knowing. Challenge me on anything. I’m just letting you know that I’m silly. But I’m happy, that’s the other point.

"Now when I’ve gained that trust, then I’m hoping that I’ll say, ‘Now I’ve shown you that I’m trustworthy now let me get to the subject matter and at least they’re going to lend me their ears.

"So it’s building trust and then it’s trying to give them a message in a way that they haven’t heard it before and it’s more serious, but it’s okay to be serious because we’ve laughed. We’ve got some energy out. It’s dispersed," said Dorge.

Crash Test Dummies drummer Mitch Dorge gave an
interactive presentation to students at Douglas Park
 school in Regina on Dec 06, 2011.

Photograph by: Don Healy, Regina Leader-Post
Cory Shaeffer, sales associate with the Co-operators: "The reason that we have brought Mitch into town and are taking him around to the schools is this is the Co-operators’ way of giving back to the community.

"We feel that it’s very important to educate our youth on these types of issues — on drugs, alcohol, and decision-making, goal setting— because they are our future and by bringing this positive message in, this is encouraging our future to grow."

Schaeffer added that he has been working with Dorge since 2007.

"I wish we could’ve brought him into town sooner and hopefully we can bring him into more schools in the city in the next little while because his message has been very well received and again, we at the Co-Operators think it’s a very important message to deliver to today’s youth," said Schaeffer.

Crash Test Dummies drummer Mitch Dorge gave an
interactive presentation to students at Douglas Park
 school in Regina on Dec 06, 2011.

Photograph by: Don Healy, Regina Leader-Post

Lynell Streifel, vice-principal of Douglas Park Elementary School: "I think there was an important message here today. I think the kids really enjoyed it. The presentation was amazing.

"Things like this need to happen in schools. We need to get out. Community members need to support our kids and it was a really wonderful experience for kids and staff and the school and the community."

She said she believes presentations like Dorge's are important for the kids.

"I think the kids hear it from us all the time and we do a really good message of trying to get them to think about the world they live in, the role they play in it and what they can do to make it a better place, but it’s nice to be able to hear it from somebody else," said Streifel.

Related Links

Mitch Dorge's website

Teens Against Drinking and Driving

Drug Abuse Resistance Education

Help Jacqui

Jacqui Saburido was a victim of a car crash caused by a drunk driver. She is alive, but she is disfigured for life. Check out the website to learn her story and to drive the point home.

 Video: Mitch Dorge drumming in one of his presentations