Monday, February 29, 2016

Moose Jaw Times-Herald: Identifying road projects for provincial support

Executive committee meets on Monday at city hall.
Lisa Goudy/Times-Herald
By Lisa Goudy

The city is looking to receive provincial funding this year for the North Service Road and the Manitoba Expressway Bridge projects.

At Monday's executive committee meeting, the committee voted in favour of submitting those two projects to the Ministry of Highways under the Urban Highway Connector Program (UHCP), of which the City of Moose Jaw became a member of on May 26, 2015.

"We probably have a long list of potential projects, but have identified two primary projects that would be candidates for this funding," said Josh Mickleborough, director of engineering.

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Moose Jaw Times-Herald: A new bioengineered approach for Wakamow

Margaret Moran provides update with the valley's green river bank stabilization project
Wakamow Valley is home to wildlife,
including this Northern Leopard frog.
Submitted photo

By Lisa Goudy

For years, erosion has been taking place along the Moose Jaw River.

The river bank was stable for many decades until the flood in spring 2011. The River Bank Stabilization Project was born as the first of its kind bioengineered river bank stabilization project in Saskatchewan at a cost of approximately $1.25 million.

"This type of bioengineered approach is the first of its kind in Western Canada," said Margaret Moran, CEO of Wakamow Valley Authority, "but this method has been used extensively in Ontario and also in Western U.S. - Wyoming, Montana and Colorado - very successful. It's less expensive than the traditional hard engineered approach. It's better for aquatic environment."

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A painted turtle seen at the Asiniboine
Pedestrian Bridge in Wakamow Valley.
Submitted photo 

Moose Jaw Times-Herald: Connecting through culture

Indigenous Welcome for Syrian refugees celebration held at Mosaic Place
Ahmad Al-Khaldi, who came to Moose Jaw from Syria
with his wife and their three daughters, participates
in a round dance at the Indigenous Welcome for Syrian
refugees celebration on Feb. 29, 2016 at Mosaic Place.
Lisa Goudy/Times-Herald

By Lisa Goudy

A few years ago, Ahmad Al-Khaldi fled his apartment building with his family in Syria.

Two or three days after he left, the building was bombed.

"We're very, very lucky," he said. "The building contained about 15 apartments. The whole building crashed. There were three families in it. I fled before the bombing two days or three days. We're very, very lucky."

Al-Khaldi, along with his wife and their three daughters, are originally from Damascus, Syria's capital and life there wasn't safe.

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A group of Syrian refugees take part in a Syrian
dance at the Indigenous Welcome for Syrian
refugees celebration on Feb. 29, 2016.
Lisa Goudy/Times-Herald

Moose Jaw Times-Herald: Lisa's Corner: Synching the Earth's orbit with leap years

By Lisa Goudy

Once every four years, we get a bonus day in February. 

This year is one of those years.The year 2016 is a leap year and Monday - Feb. 29 - is Leap Day. While many of us might not care about having an extra day, ignoring the fact that it's a Monday in the middle of winter, the reason for having a leap year is actually significant. And no, I'm not talking about the Amy Adams' romantic comedy film, 'Leap Year,' although I do hope to one day visit Ireland.

So the first question becomes why do we have leap years? The answer has to do with the sun and Earth's orbit. We have 365 days in a year, but the Earth takes five hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds longer than that to go around the sun. Over a period of four years, that added time equates to a day.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Moose Jaw Times-Herald: NDP critical of ER wait times

NDP criticizes emergency wait times at Wigmore hospital after records reveal long ER wait times
Danielle Chartier, NDP health critic, speaks to
the media about her concerns with wait times
as indicated in the NDP Freedom of Information
 request on Feb. 24, 2016 in the parking lot of
the Western Development Museum.
Lisa Goudy/Times-Herald

By Lisa Goudy

NDP health critic Danielle Chartier is concerned with hospital records showing people have been waiting hours at the Wigmore hospital.

An NDP Freedom of Information (FOI) request indicated that from Oct. 19 to Dec. 31, 2015, 57 emergent and urgent patients were in the waiting room for more than two hours at the Dr. F.H. Wigmore Regional Hospital when they should've be seen within 15 and 30 minutes based on Canadian Trauma and Acuity State (CTAS) standards. CTAS 2 emergent patients need to see a physician within 15 minutes and CTAS 3 need to see a physician within 30 minutes, which includes moderate trauma, seizure, suicidal or acute pain.

Laurie Albinet, vice-president of clinical services in
 the Five Hills Health Region, talks with reporters in
response to the NDP criticisms of wait times at the
Dr. F.H. Wigmore Regional Hospital on Feb. 24, 2016.
Lisa Goudy/Times-Herald
"This John Black lean design and operated hospital is failing patients. Can you imagine going into the hospital with a head injury or severe trauma, which is what CTAS 2 is ... and waiting four and a half hours?" said Chartier.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Moose Jaw Times-Herald: Cartoonist Rolli discusses intellectual freedom

Charles Anderson, who goes by the
pen name Rolli, is a cartoonist
and writer based out of Regina.
Submitted photo
By Lisa Goudy

Regina-based writer and cartoonist Rolli believes there is a "fine line" between freedom of speech and hate speech.

"I've had to think pretty hard this week to formulate exactly where I stand on the matter," said Rolli, whose non-pen name is Charles Anderson. "It is a very important concept and the idea that people should be free to read what they want, to say what they want, to write what they want. It's a value that most people consider one of the most important."

This week is Freedom to Read Week and Rolli will be one of the panelists for a freedom of speech discussion on Thursday at 7 p.m., at the Moose Jaw Public Library.

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Moose Jaw Times-Herald: Changing bullying culture through pink

Red Cross Pink Day aims to get everyone
working together to prevent bullying.
Submitted photo
Wednesday marks annual Canadian Red Cross anti-bullying Pink Day

By Lisa Goudy

When it comes to anti-bullying, Judi Robertson with the Canadian Red Cross believes good advice comes from the movie, 'Spider-Man.'

"There's a famous quote in Spider-Man and it is his uncle telling Spider-Man: 'With great power comes great responsibility," said Robertson, team lead and outreach co-ordinator for Moose Jaw and area. "We each have the power to do good or not to and so it's a choice that we have and I think that goes for adults too. Everyone has power. It's how you choose to use that power that makes a difference.

"Be like Spider-Man and use your power for good."

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Moose Jaw Times-Herald: An extra $550,000 in annual revenue for city

Automated speed enforcement program generating extra funds for the city

By Lisa Goudy

Because of speeders in photo radar zones, the City of Moose Jaw can expect annual revenue of $1.08 million with ongoing costs around $540,000.

From March 2015 to August 2015, there were 5,083 tickets paid with fines totalling $442,555.09.

"I know we've seen the numbers that have come in initially. My understanding is that the numbers of tickets are starting to drop a little bit, not as quite as quick as we would like in school zones, but when we're looking at Ninth Avenue Northwest and the Trans-Canada Highway, we're starting to see a drop in in-province tickets," said Mayor Deb Higgins.

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Monday, February 22, 2016

Moose Jaw Times-Herald: Looking at using technology to manage infrastructure

Coun. Patrick Boyle makes a motion to explore digital infrastructure asset management tools
Coun. Patrick Boyle speaks to his motion to look
 into digital infrastructure asset management
tools at the Feb. 22, 2016 council meeting.
Lisa Goudy/Times-Herald

By Lisa Goudy

Coun. Patrick Boyle would like to see the options for using digital systems to manage and monitor infrastructure in the city.

"Picture a water main break and the pressure goes down somewhere and we have some data collection on that and know where the break is," he said. "Before it becomes a major issue, we can isolate those things and get to it before it becomes an even larger problem."

At Monday's council meeting, he made a motion for city administration to develop a report on those possibilities, including feasibility, cost and application within city systems.

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Moose Jaw Times-Herald: From Road Maps to Life Rafts

Two Moose Jaw residents start online travel-related magazine
Moose Jaw's Andrea Martineau, left, and Katelyn
Smuk are seen at the 2015 Saskatchewan Book Awards.
Submitted photo

By Lisa Goudy

Moose Jaw's Andrea Martineau and Katelyn Smuk are two English majors studying in Regina with big dreams of working in publishing.

That dream became the springboard for their new digital literary magazine, Road Maps & Life Rafts.

"We really enjoy writing and editing work," said Martineau. "We kind of just wanted a project that would help us get better at that, as well as help us network with writers both locally and online because a lot of stuff is online and international now."

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Sunday, February 21, 2016

Moose Jaw Times-Herald: An almost snow-less Winterfest

Families enjoy activities at Wakamow Valley in mild temperatures
Winterfest was designed as a free family fun day
to get people outside.A horse-drawn wagon ride
makes its way through Wakamow Valley during
Winterfest 2016 on Feb. 21, 2016.
Lisa Goudy/Times-Herald

By Lisa Goudy

Planning the Winterfest event wasn't easy considering the lack of snow.

Fortunately, Ailsa McKeen, administration and events co-ordinator at Wakamow Valley, had a Plan A and a Plan B so Sunday's free event could go off without a hitch.

"There aren't quite as many activities as we would've liked. We would've liked to bring our snowshoes out. We recently purchased some snowshoes that people can come and use for free. So anytime somebody wants to snowshoe in the valley, they just have to come to our office and they just have to sign out some snow shoes and away they go," she said.

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Moose Jaw Times-Herald: Walking in the cold for homeless people

First annual Coldest Night of the Year event raises more than $20,000
The Pink Ladies team stop for a moment during
the first annual Coldest Night of the Year
event to raise funds for Riverside Mission on
the night of Feb. 20, 2016.
Lisa Goudy/Times-Herald

By Lisa Goudy

As LeeAnne Gamble walked in the frosty temperatures in the early evening on Saturday, she thought of homeless people.

“It’s funny. You don’t think about it in Moose Jaw. I mean, you think you know there’s Vancouver and Calgary, Regina, you think about the big places and you know that there’s a lot of homeless people but you don’t think about it being in Moose Jaw because you don’t see it in big groups,” she said.

“I’m lucky. I have a warm bed to go to and a home to go to.”

Moose Jaw Times-Herald: Infrastructure the key word in budget talks

Budget committee makes decisions on the majority of the budget over the weekend

Budget committee met on the weekend to
discuss the operating and capital budgets.
Lisa Goudy/Times-Herald
By Lisa Goudy

As budget deliberations entered into the first capital budget item on Saturday, it took just over one minute for infrastructure to be brought up.

"We should only have one focus here and that is our infrastructure requirements that are way beyond our capacity," said Coun. Brian Swanson. "We have way too much expenditures. We should be stripping out everything that isn't road, water lines, bridges."

It started when he made a motion to change the capital innovative housing project - which was to provide a source of funding for the municipal portion of the federal and provincial housing programs - from its proposed funding level of $75,000 in 2016 to $0.

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Moose Jaw Times-Herald: City to provide financial support to Habitat

Executive committee votes to give $5,000 grant and temporarily waive property taxes
Bill Harris, chairman for Habitat for Humanity in
Moose Jaw, makes a presentation to executive
committee on Feb. 16, 2016 for the city to
provide a $5,000 grant and waive property taxes
until title is transferred to the new owner on
Habitat's sixth build on Ominica Street West.
Lisa Goudy/Times-Herald

By Lisa Goudy

A few weeks ago, Habitat for Humanity broke ground on their sixth home in Moose Jaw, which will be Mandy Eirich's new house.

At Tuesday's executive committee meeting, Bill Harris, chairman for Habitat for Humanity in Moose Jaw, requested that the city provide a $5,000 grant and waive the property taxes on the property on Ominica Street West until title is transferred to the new owner.

"We continue to do lots of fundraising and are still involved in that, but obviously anything to help us secure another lot or reduce the amount of fundraising we have to do to pay for the lot and build a home," said Harris.

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Friday, February 19, 2016

Moose Jaw Times-Herald: By the Numbers: Budget 2016

By Lisa Goudy

Here's a look at the city's 2016 operating and 2016 capital budgets given approval by budget committee.

$43,310,58 - Overall 2016 revenues from General Revenue Fund

$669,230 - City clerk/solicitor 2016 operating budget

$91,331 - Communications manager 2016 operating budget

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Moose Jaw Times-Herald: Budget committee slashes Mosaic, Yara's subsidy request by 50%

Budget committee and members of city
administration discuss budget items at the
Feb. 19, 2016 budget meeting at city hall.
Lisa Goudy/Times-Herald
Full day of budget meeting held on Friday at city hall; all decisions need final council approval

By Lisa Goudy

In a vote of 4-3, councillors cut the Mosaic Place and YaraCentre operating budget subsidy request for 2016 in half.

The Downtown Field House and Facility (DFFH) board requested $1.02 million in city funding for 2016, a 103.8 per cent increase from the 2015 subsidy of $499,009.

"I can't imagine granting the full amount that's been requested when you take into consideration other priorities the city has on its books right now, the economic conditions right now," said Mayor Deb Higgins.

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Moose Jaw Times-Herald: Moose Jaw bus heading to Swift Current on loan

By Lisa Goudy

A championship is headed to Swift Current and so is a Moose Jaw transit bus.

The Ford World Women's Curling Championship will take place in Swift Current from March 19 to 27. The City of Swift Current requested the loan of one City of Moose Jaw transit bus during the event to help move spectators and competitors during that time.