Notorious Cecil Hotel slated for demolition but sign to be saved

WATCH ABOVE: The sign from the Cecil Hotel is set to be removed on Friday morning. Jenna Freeman reports.

CALGARY – The historic Cecil Hotel in downtown Calgary will be demolished instead of being redeveloped.

Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) made the announcement on Wednesday, saying that while they were aware some Calgarians hoped the landmark could be saved, salvaging it just isn’t possible.

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“Following decades of neglect plus the ravages of fire and flood, rehabilitation and restoration simply aren’t feasible options,” said CMLC President & CEO Michael Brown in a news release.

“We will apply for a demolition permit this fall after an abatement program has been completed on the building and all hazardous materials have been properly removed.”

Local historian Harry Sanders said the hotel “filled a need” in the city when it first opened.

“It was a working man’s hotel, and always was,” he said. “It didn’t always have the reputation that it came to be known for in the later years.”

Situated on the corner of 4 Avenue S.E. and 3 Street S.E., the Cecil Hotel is one of only six pre-First World War hotels still standing in Calgary. It was built in 1912.

The CMLC is making efforts to keep elements from the building of historical value, such as the hotel’s large neon sign.

“The hotel is a landmark, but so too is the sign, and perhaps more so,” said Sanders. “As a drive-by landmark, the sign is the visible part.”

The Cecil Hotel sign was removed on Friday morning.

The sign atop the Cecil Hotel is removed on Friday, August 14, 2015.

Global News / Tom Reynolds

“It will be restored to its original colours and condition and then placed into storage until such time as a community use can be identified,” said Brown. A CMLC spokesperson on site said the sign would be used in the East Village redevelopment.

With files from Carlos Prieto

Sandals hopeful about reaching new contracts with teachers before school begins

WATCH ABOVE: Provincial Education Minister Liz Sandals says a lot of bargaining is underway to avert a province-wide September strike. Lama Nicolas reports.

TORONTO – Education Minister Liz Sandals issued a warning to Ontario teachers Wednesday while expressing optimism about reaching new contract agreements before the start of classes Sept. 8.

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    Meeting between premier and Ontario teachers’ unions leave parents of students with little assurances

  • Teachers’ unions agreed to resume stalled contract negotiations: Liberals

  • No contract talks scheduled to avert possible teachers’ strikes in Ontario

The four big teachers’ unions are, or soon will be, in legal strike positions, and that means any job actions they plan if there are no agreements by September would amount to a limited strike, not a work-to-rule campaign, said Sandals.

The unions, which represent 115,000 teachers, have talked about refusing to supervise extracurricular activities or to participate in parent-teachers meetings as possible protest actions if there are no agreements when classes resume.

READ MORE: Two Ontario teachers unions set to hold talks

They’ve been without contracts for a year now, and once they are in legal strike positions they can’t unilaterally decide on work-to-rule campaigns, said Sandals.

“The things that they’re proposing to do in the event that there are no agreements would be a partial withdrawal of services, so it is a form of strike,” she said. “The teachers can’t simply decide that as a work to rule they won’t do EQAO testing, as an example. That’s a strike action.”

However, the minister said all sides are ready to reach new agreements after negotiations resumed Wednesday with the Ontario English Catholic Teachers for the first time in three months. Talks with the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation are scheduled to resume next week. The government is also in “informal” talks with the Elementary Teachers’ Federation about a resumption of negotiations.

“I really do get a sense that … everybody’s very focused on making sure that we do get agreements and there won’t be disruption in the fall,” said Sandals.

“I have a sense of a good feeling coming back from the table.”

There was already a lot of bargaining with the teachers’ unions, even if it was “in fits and starts,” and many issues have already been resolved, added Sandals.

“It isn’t like we only have a few days and we have to do everything,” she said on her way into a Liberal cabinet meeting.

Part of the difficulties in this year’s round of negotiations with the teachers is a new two-tiered bargaining process, with talks at both the local and provincial level, which Sandals said is like trying to negotiate a first contract.

READ MORE: Teachers’ unions agreed to resume stalled contract negotiations: Liberals

“There’s never ever been a central agreement with any of these organizations before, so it’s really like we’re negotiating a first central collective agreement with each and every one of the unions,” she said. “The first time you do a collective agreement is always the most difficult because you have to figure out absolutely everything as opposed to just modify a few things from the last time around.”

The Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association launched a website called teachersmatter杭州丝足 which lists workload, fair hiring as well as wages and benefits as key issues for the union in the talks. It notes teachers had their salaries frozen for two-years and the Liberals are insisting on a net zero increase in new contracts.

“We would all like to avoid a labour disruption, but not at any cost to public education,” said OECTA President Ann Hawkins.


Politics in print: Why candidates write their memoirs before an election

It’s not enough to be a politician these days – you also have to be a published author.

At least, that’s the conclusion you could draw from some of the titles released over the past year: Common Ground by Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, Who We Are by Green Party leader Elizabeth May, and the just-released Strength of Conviction by NDP leader Thomas Mulcair.

QUIZ: Which politician wrote it?

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  • Quiz: Which politician wrote it?

  • Lunch with NDP director Anne McGrath: on Tom Mulcair’s humour, Trudeau’s ‘inconsistencies,’ and Conservative scandal

    One-on-One with Justin Trudeau

All three of these books trace the personal story of their authors, from childhood to federal politics. Conservative leader Stephen Harper’s 2013 book, A Great Game, is the exception among the political oeuvre: it covers the early history of hockey in Toronto.

But party leaders are busy people and writing a book takes time, so what are they getting out of it?

The writing process

Well to start with, they might not write everything themselves. According to Jennifer Lambert, editorial director of HarperCollins Canada, which published Trudeau’s memoir, “he had a few writers that worked with him, and his political team as well. His wife was very involved. Sophie was very involved, she read a lot of drafts and contributed.”

However, she said, Trudeau was involved in every word on the page, in both the French and English editions. “Justin was constantly revising and adding and rewriting, ensuring that it really was his voice, his choice, his words.”

And, the book went through a normal back-and-forth with the editor too, so that revisions were made.

Branding the leader

Having an autobiography on the shelf serves an important political purpose, said Alex Marland, associate professor of political science at Memorial University of Newfoundland. “It’s a way to get information out that may otherwise get missed.”

It’s all about building a leader’s brand and image control, he said. “In branding you have to have a story. You have to have a narrative. So it allows you to say well, this person is a human being, this person has an interesting story, here’s their background, here’s their values and their beliefs and where they’re coming from, but they’re ultimately a human being and a person.”

Building a brand is especially important for Mulcair, according to John Crean, national managing partner for National Public Relations. “I think for Mr. Mulcair, more than perhaps the other candidates, he’s less well-known to Canadians. And part of their broader strategy I think is going to be to introduce him and create a brand for him that will appeal to a broad swath of Canadians and perhaps be seen to be informing the policy directions and motivations that he might have for Canada.”

And so, candidates write their life stories and try to look like an ordinary, relatable person. “Ordinary is exactly what they’re trying to communicate in some ways. You’re trying to suggest you’re not an elitist,” said Marland.

Harper had different goals for his book, he said. “It still fit the brand narrative about him, in that even though it wasn’t his story, it was about hockey, which connects very much into his image. It’s kind of policy wonkish and intellectual in that respect, which kind of goes along with his image. And then there’s the conservative, traditional aspect and the potential connection to Toronto, which is all things that they want to communicate.”

Harper wanted to expand his brand, said Crean, and did it in the most Canadian way possible: by writing about hockey. “So Mr. Harper, who’s well-known to Canadians, well-established, I think they’re probably trying to broaden his brand a little bit, to demonstrate that he has interests and knowledge and abilities that transcend the political sphere.”

It’s no accident that Mulcair’s book was coming out during the early days of the campaign either, said Marland. “It’s a long campaign, they’ve got to come up with, what do we talk about today? This is a good way to show him sitting there, signing books. It’s going to take a few days of news coverage where they don’t have to make spending promises, they don’t have to make policy commitments. It can be light, it keeps the story out there. It’s kind of smart.”

Who’s reading?

HarperCollins, which published both Trudeau’s and Olivia Chow’s autobiographies, doesn’t release sales figures, said Lambert. “I can say that they’re both Globe and Mail bestsellers,” she said. “I’m very, very pleased with both of their performances.”

“I think there’s a strong market of people who are curious to know what the people are really like behind the very public face,” she said, people like diehard party supporters, people who might be on the fence, and people who buy the books as gifts for friends and family.

Marland disagrees. “The ultimate audience in many ways is journalists. Even though the publisher won’t say that, the end game, the real goal, is to try to influence how the media may report on them.”

Crean also thinks that the audience is the media, as a conduit toward reaching the broader public. “Their hope is that journalists will go through the book as part of their research to try to find snippets into his personality and his life history that in a sense informs why he’s saying the things he’s saying today.”

Maybe not a page-turner

The big question though is, are the books any good?

“I flipped through a few of the books and I find many of them, I have a hard time keeping my attention on the entire book,” said Crean. “I don’t really have a strong opinion on the quality of the books per se other than I’m not one of the many thousands who are buying these books.”

Marland was more definitive: “Usually in my experience, the better books are the ones that come out when they’re done. They write reflections once they’ve left office.”

Although you can never fully trust an autobiography, he said, those written by retired politicians are more revealing and more willing to tackle controversial topics. On Mulcair, he said, “Really what adventures does he have that are so interesting? But if Mulcair was prime minister for ten years, and produced a book after that reflecting on ten years, that would be pretty interesting.”

At least 50 dead after massive explosion rocks Chinese city of Tianjin

Please note: This story is developing and details could change as more information emerges.

Officials and state media outlets say at least 50 people have been killed and over 700 more injured after two blasts, one of which was reported to be the equivalent of 21 tons of TNT, shook the Chinese port city of Tianjin late Wednesday night.

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The explosions, which lit up the sky with a fireball and sent a shockwave across the area, happened just after 11:30 p.m. According to the BBC, the Chinese Seismological Network registered magnitude 2.3 and 2.9 tremors.

Police in Tianjin said an initial blast took place in shipping containers at a warehouse for hazardous materials owned by Rui Hai International Logistics Limited, a “large transit distribution centre” that handles the transport of hazardous and dangerous goods.

Twelve of the dead were from among the more than 1,000 firefighters sent to fight the blaze set, the official Xinhua News agency said. It said over 520 people were being treated in hospitals, 66 of them with serious injuries.

The shockwaves were felt kilometres away, according to local media, knocking out windows in several buildings.

“I thought it was an earthquake, so I rushed downstairs without my shoes on,” Tianjin resident Zhang Siyu, told the Associated Press. “Only once I was outside did I realize it was an explosion. There was the huge fireball in the sky with thick clouds. Everybody could see it.”

Reports on social media sites such as Weibo indicate the doors and windows on homes and buildings kilometres away from the blast site were blown or shaken off, while power to many high-rise buildings in the area was knocked out. Meanwhile, Tianjin Public Security reported the East China Sea Road light rail station was damaged in the explosion.

“At the time of the explosion the ground was shaking fiercely, nearby cars and buildings were shaking, a few buildings’ glass all broke and everyone started to run,” BBC reported an eyewitness identified as Ms. Yang saying. “Now all the residents are gathered in the street.”

“Lu Yun, head of the nearby Taida Hospital, said they have received more than 50 wounded people, and more are coming. The injuries were mainly from broken glass or stones. Some of the injuries are serious,” Chinese news agency Xinhua reported.

Videos and still images circulating on social media show a massive fireball filling the night’s sky followed by a shockwave seconds after the initial explosion.

A plume of flames and smoke rose several dozen metres into the air and was reportedly caught on a Japanese weather satellite.

Ruihai Logistics said on its website – before it was shut down – that it was established in 2011 and is an approved company for handling hazardous materials. It said it handles 1 million tons of cargo annually.

Tianjin, with a population of about 15 million, is about 120 kilometres east of Beijing on the Bohai Sea and is one of the country’s major ports. It is one of China’s more modern cities and is connected to the capital by a high speed rail line.

-With files from The Associated Press.


Postal union president says workers will follow Harper around the country

EDMONTON — The national president of the postal workers union says he’s not telling anyone how to vote on Oct. 19 – just so long as it isn’t for Conservative Stephen Harper.

Mike Palecek says his members plan to follow Harper around the country and get involved in local campaigns to remind voters of cuts to Canada Post that resulted last year in the end of door-to-door delivery in many Canadian cities.

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  • Edmonton homeowner upset with Canada Post over community mailbox placement

  • Canada Post changes 700 super mailbox locations after outrage

  • Canada Post announces the next postal codes to make the switch to community mailboxes

Canada Post’s move to community mailboxes is expected to save the corporation about $500 million per year to cope with what it says is a declining volume of mail in the digital age.

Palecek of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers says the cuts at Canada Post, which have included proposals to change the funding of the workers’ pension plan, “are completely unjustified” because Canada Post “continues to make profits.” Canada Post’s pre-tax profit in 2014 was about $194 million.

“These cuts are completely unjustified. There’s no reason for them to go ahead given the corporation continues to make profits,” Palecek says.

READ MORE: 7 things to know about Canada Post’s plan to axe home delivery

The NDP have vowed to reverse the cuts, while the Liberals have promised a moratorium on any cuts at Canada Post while they study the future of the corporation.

Angry postal workers greeted Harper’s arrival in Edmonton as part of a cross-country tour that comes four years after a nasty dispute between Canada Post and its workers led to rotating strikes, a lockout and ultimately back-to-work legislation.

READ MORE: Harper speaks at Conservative rally in Edmonton

Although the two sides eventually came to an agreement in 2012, the issue has lingered in the courts. The union’s charter challenge to the legislation is scheduled to be heard later this fall.

The timing of the court case and the contract talks make the future of Canada Post an election issue, Palecek says.

“At this point were asking people to vote for home mail delivery,” Palecek says.

“I’m not here to tell you who to vote for, but I am here to tell you that if Stephen Harper is re-elected, you’re not going to have the same public postal service that you’ve been able to count on in the past.”

Dozens of protesters lined the sidewalk outside a manufacturing facility for oil fields equipment where the Conservative leader was scheduled to address a rally Wednesday evening.

A spokesman for the Conservative campaign dismissed the protest. Kory Teneycke says the protest was a “representation of union leadership, not the workers.”


Heat health: Tips to stay sun safe

REGINA – In Saskatchewan we’re used to the term “deep freeze” more so than “heat wave.”

Although most of us prefer these warm days, spending too much time in the sun and heat can be just as dangerous as freezing temperatures.

Area in central and southern Saskatchewan remained under a special weather statement Wednesday with high temperatures and humidity expected to continue into the weekend.

Some Regina residents have swarmed to the city’s spray pads and pools as a refreshing way to cool down.

“We will probably run through sprinklers, set up a pool in the backyard, and maybe come back here,” said one man leaving Massey pool Wednesday. “Anything to kind of stay in the sun but stay cool and stay hydrated.”

For others, all that’s needed is a frozen treat.

“We’re out for ice cream without dad. We snuck away for some ice cream to keep cool and went to the splash park earlier,” said another resident after getting an ice cream cone from the Milky Way. “It’s a good Saskatchewan summer day.”

Numerous heat induced illnesses can set in quickly such as heat rash, edema and fainting.  The most extreme danger related to overheating is heat stroke where a fever sets in and the body can’t regulate a healthy temperature.

If you want to be outside and enjoy the heat while it lasts, it’s recommended you stay hydrated, seek shade and pay attention to how you’re feeling.  Head indoors if you start feeling nauseous, light headed or your body starts to cramp.

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  • Special weather statement for hot spell in Saskatoon, southern Sask.

Dog not spayed, owner not eligible for pet insurance coverage

WATCH ABOVE: Lucy Fava of Toronto says the pet insurance she bought was of no clause when her dog Coco was deathly sick. As Sean O’Shea reports the company denied her claim because they say the condition was preventable.

TORONTO — A Toronto dog owner who bought pet insurance for the past seven years says the company that took her premiums didn’t come through when she needed it most.

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“I just figured they would cover some of it, or at least three-quarters of it,” Lucy Fava said, referring to life-saving surgery for her dog Coco last winter.

Fava says Coco got sick and was diagnosed with a condition called Pyometra — an inflammation of the uterus.

She says her veterinarians told her the dog — part pug, part Jack Russell terrier — had just hours to live. So she went ahead with the surgery.

The treatment cost to rehabilitate Coco amounted to about $3,500.

Following the procedure, Fava called Pethealth Inc. to discuss repayment.

She says she believed there ought to be some coverage.

But Pethealth denied the claim, citing that Fava was at fault for the infection because she never had Coco spayed.

Pethealth did not return phone calls from Global News, but in its letter to Fava said:

“We are unable to respond to your claim for Coco’s Pyometra as per your selected policy terms and conditions any treatment/surgery relating to the breeding or pregnancy is not available for coverage … this condition is considered preventable and related to breeding or pregnancy …”

Fava says she was never informed during the time she held the policy that certain medical illnesses would not be coverage unless her pet was sterilized.

“It’s personal,” she said. “When you have a pet it’s up to you if you want to have them spayed or not.”

Fava says she’s happy Coco has recovered but unhappy the insurance company has declined to share any costs.


Keremeos fire victim struggling to get back on his feet

KEREMEOS — A Keremeos man lost everything in a fire over the weekend. Harold Bullington received assistance for the first few days, but now, he has nowhere to turn.

“I’m pretty heartbroken. The only thing I saved was my dog,” says Bullington, standing in the debris of what was once his home.

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The blaze broke out Saturday morning near Highway 3 west of Keremeos. A friend driving by noticed the flames creeping towards Bullington’s home and ran in to save him.

“I was sleeping. If it wasn’t for Marty, I would’ve burned up in there or died of smoke,” says Bullington.

Marty Marchand Ring is coming to his aid once again.

Bullington didn’t have insurance, claiming it was much too expensive since his mobile home was on the Lower Similkameen Indian Reserve, which is outside of city limits.

Marchand Ring has set up a fundraiser campaign to help Bullington get back on his feet.

“Harold always tries to help other people out and he doesn’t have much himself. He lives on a disability. I just think that if the community, or the valley, or anyone, if they can reach out and help him, that’s all” says Merchand Ring.

Bullington’s neighbour says the fire victim deserves all the help he can get.

“He’s a super nice guy. Everybody in the community knows who he is,” says Henry Allison.

“He’s the kind of person who if he’s got something, he will hand it to you immediately.”

A GoFundMe page has been set up, as well as an account at the Valley First Credit Union in Keremeos.

Alberta fly fishers divided on whether fishing bans are extensive enough

ABOVE WATCH: The province of Alberta has put a fishing ban on some rivers in an effort to save the fish population from scorching heat, but as Doug Vaessen reports, some experts say it’s not enough.

CALGARY – While certain fishing spots in southern Alberta are temporarily closed due to high water temperatures, some area fly fishers say more bans are needed.

Amber Payliss is a passionate fly fisher and photographer, and says the heat is wreaking havoc on fish in sensitive rivers and streams.

“The Old Man River, for example, I was there last week and it was super low and very warm,” she said. “When the water temperatures reach 18 degrees Celsius to over 20, that’s fish kill levels. Any fish you have at that point in your hands, even if they swim back into the water, often times they won’t survive.”

The province has already banned fishing in nine areas, including long stretches of the Bow River.

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  • Fishing closures in southern Alberta due to hot weather

  • Fishing ban and use conditions for B.C. rivers

Aaron Feltham is a part owner of Bow River Troutfitters, and thinks the government is doing exactly what is needed.

“They have put some time into it, done their research, and they have chosen—these are the most crucial waters for them  to shut down now,” said Feltham. “I am confident that given some more warm weather, they will make more judgement calls that are according.”

The province says it continues to monitor the situation, but so far hasn’t added any bans since Tuesday.

For her part, Payliss is adamant the next few days are crucial.

“I understand this is the first time we have dealt with such a lengthy closer on our systems,” she said. “But still I think there could be a little more done, at least for this week while we deal with these hot temperatures.”


‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’ cast in Toronto to talk slapping, pizza and Superman

The stars of the new spy thriller The Man From U.N.C.L.E. touched down in Toronto for the Canadian premiere of the movie on Tuesday.

In the film adaptation of the popular ‘60s TV series, Armie Hammer and Henry Cavill are enemies turned allies with anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better attitudes. In real life, Hammer says there is at least one thing he can do better than his co-star.

“He can’t play the guitar… I don’t mean he can’t, I mean I can and he doesn’t,” Hammer jokes. “He probably could if he wanted to, he’s superman for sh*t sake, he can do whatever he wants.”

As for Cavill? “Speak in an English accent. Pretty sure I can do that better,” Cavill laughs.

On screen, the guys clean up nicely. There’s no doubt Cavill can wear a suit well, whether it’s tailor-made from the finest wool-cashmere or superhero-spandex clinging to his body.

“The Superman suit is a lot tighter … but it’s still cool to wear a Superman suit… you can’t complain, but ‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’ suits I really loved,” Cavill told ET Canada’s Rick Campanelli. “They were absolutely fantastic. I’d like to do a second one and hopefully get to wear some more suits.”

The cast get in on the action with some crazy stunts, but Hammer was the lucky one on the receiving end of a few hard-hitting, stinging slaps, courtesy of Alicia Vikander’s feisty character, Gaby.

“I guess I just have one of those hittable faces. I don’t know what it is! It wasn’t my idea, it wasn’t even in the script. I wouldn’t have taken the movie if I knew it was going to happen,” Hammer said.

The film is worth seeing for the stunning ’60s fashions alone. Elizabeth Debicki plays the chic but horrible villain, Victoria, and says crafting her character’s style was essential to her performance.

“It’s all in the silhouette … it’s almost like a Cleopatra meets the ’60s kind of vibe,” Debicki said. “It was like a second skin. It just felt right. The costumes are all amazing”

But the best part about making the movie wasn’t the great fashion or the cool spy stunts, it was filming in Italy. Vikander said the pizza was plentiful and the wine was flowing on location in Rome and Naples.

“I probably learned a lot about Italian food and Italian wines. Normally on most films your social life just shuts off because you’re always on set working… but Guy (Ritchie) decided that to make this kind of film you need to have a little fun on the side,” Vikander adds. “Every morning we would decide where to go and what to eat.”

You’ll be seeing a lot more of the 26-year-old Swedish star soon. In September she’ll be back in Toronto to premiere The Danish Girl, alongside Eddie Redmayne, and later this year she’s starring opposite her rumoured boyfriend, Michael Fassbender in “The Light Between Oceans”.

In between premiering movies she’ll be shooting one too. Vikander confirmed she’s joining Matt Damon in a new installment of the Bourne franchise.

“I can’t talk about it yet even though I’m so excited. I’m going to start filming in a month,” she said. “I’m a big fan of the previous movies.”

Watch The Man From U.N.C.L.E. get quizzed on other acronyms below.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. opens nationwide Friday.

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North end of Cambie Street Bridge could be home to ‘Arc’ development

WATCH: An architecturally unique building is being proposed for the north end of Vancouver’s Cambie Bridge. Ted Chernecki gives us the reaction.

A new design for a proposed building at the foot of the Cambie Street Bridge could be another dramatic addition to Vancouver’s skyline.

Concord Pacific is applying for a preliminary development permit for a rezoned property at 89 Nelson Street. In renderings submitted to the city, the new design by local company Francl Architecture includes a skybridge that would link two towers.

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“It’s an imaginative design, it’s certainly different from many of the buildings that people are starting to tire of in Vancouver,” says local architect and planner Michael Geller.

The aptly-named “Arc” development would be 29 storeys high with 558 residential units and additional retail space. But it’s the linking skybridge and the curves on the building that are getting the most attention.

“Architects and developers are challenging themselves to do something interesting,” says Anita Molaro, Vancouver’s Assistant Director of Planning.

“[We’re] trying to provide those moments, within the urban fabric, of something special in a built form.”

At the north end of the Cambie Street Bridge, the building would create a gateway to downtown rivaling other large towers under construction at Granville Street and Burrard Street.

“In those landmark locations, [there’s] something special about them that is evocative perhaps,” said Molaro. “Particularly notable. The Granville Street tower is doing something unique as a gateway sight into the city…and that helps enrich our experience.”

Rendering of the proposed tower at 89 Nelson Street

Francl Architecture

Georgetown, Ont. woman wins human rights case after firing over pregnancy

WATCH ABOVE: A Georgetown, Ont. woman was allegedly fired from her job because she was pregnant. As Catherine McDonald reports, a human rights tribunal decision proves the employer was wrong and the woman is urging others to know their rights.

TORONTO — Yvette Wratten feels empowered following a Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario decision that ruled in her favour after she was fired for being pregnant.

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The 27-year-old Georgetown, Ont. woman worked at Topper’s Pizza in the community for 18 months — first as a delivery driver and then as a kitchen supervisor — but was suddenly terminated on Sept. 14, 2013.

She said her boss at the time, store manager Stephen Brown, called her into his office to discuss her pregnancy.

“He asked me about a rumour that I was pregnant, asked if it was hearsay or if it was actually true, and I told him yes, it was true but I didn’t want to say anything until I’m past my safety net or first trimester because I’m high risk and I’ve lost a few before,” she said.

“He informed me that we’d have to part ways and I told him he couldn’t do it, it was illegal, and he smirked at me, said he could, so I said, ‘See you in court,’ and I walked out the back door.”

Wratten said that just days earlier, she confided in a co-worker whom she thought was a friend, when she was just five weeks pregnant.

She said she had asked the co-worker to keep the news of her pregnancy quiet, but before she knew it others were congratulating her.

“I was pretty upset,” she said, thinking back to how the rumour spread across the office.

Just 10 days after being fired, during a visit to her doctor, Wratten was sent to hospital.

The pregnancy was ectopic, where the fetus develops outside the uterus, and she miscarried.

“It was quite a traumatizing event,” said Wratten.

She said she had searched online for a human rights lawyer and found Jean-Alexandre De Bousquet, who took on the case.

“Her doctor testified that the main reason she was depressed was not because she had a miscarriage, but because she was terminated from this employment that she dearly loved,” De Bousquet said of the three-day hearing.

A decision handed down last week awarded Wratten $20,000 for injuries to her dignity, feelings and self-respect.

Adjudicator Kathleen Martin found “the respondent’s discriminatory conduct was deliberate and occurred at a very vulnerable time.”

At the hearing, Wratten’s former boss testified that her termination had nothing to do with the pregnancy — in fact, he denied even knowing about it.

Instead he said she was fired for poor performance including yelling at co-workers and negative comments to customers. But the adjudicator found his evidence was not credible or reliable.

A statement from Topper’s Pizza to Global News said this “isolated incident is not an acceptable way of treating our valued employees or guests of our pizzerias.”

“At Topper’s Pizza, we take our equal employment policy very seriously and have taken the necessary steps, including additional training, to ensure that this situation never happens again,” it read.

“As a brand, we always have and will continue to value our equal employment policy and the rights of our current and potential employees.”

Statistics obtained from the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario for 2013-2014 show that 810 complaints were filed on the grounds of sex, pregnancy and gender identity.

That’s wrongly 25 per cent of all complaints failed.

But De Bousquet says this case is somewhat unusual.

“It’s the first time I’ve come across a case where the individual discloses to the employer that she’s pregnant and is almost immediately terminated,” he said.

“Usually they will be terminated while being on maternity leave and the employer will allege it’s a result of the [restructuring of] the company.”

Wratten is now happily working as a dispatcher for a cab company, off anti-depressant medication and grateful for family support through the difficult period of her life.

She’s also encouraging others to know their rights.

“I’m super happy, even if it was nothing, I would have been happy just knowing that it was proven that I was right,” she said.

“What they did was completely wrong and they didn’t get away with it. So the money is just more of a bonus.”

Read the full statement from Topper’s Pizza Co-CEO Keith Toppazzini: 

We at Topper’s Pizza are disheartened by the circumstances surrounding this employee’s dismissal. We value each and every employee within our organization and have strict policies and procedures in place to ensure the highest level of employee conduct is performed. At Topper’s Pizza, we also value our Equal Employment Policy and uphold the rights of our current and potential employees at each of our restaurant locations, and take this matter very seriously. As this is the first occurrence of this nature in our organizations’ thirty-three year history, we are taking additional steps to ensure this does not transpire again in future. We are in the process of completing a comprehensive review of Human Resources policies and procedures. More specifically, we are implementing additional Human Resources management training to ensure all employees and franchise partners continue to meet or exceed the highest standard of codes of conduct within our organization as well as with our valued customers. We strive to provide the necessary steps, training documentation and support for our employees and Franchise Partners to ensure that incidents such as this are avoided. We stand by our Franchise Managers in their efforts to handle all employee matters with respect, professionalism, sensitivity and care, while adhering to proper procedure. At Topper’s Pizza we are committed to continual improvements in an effort to offer the best possible support to our team as well as exceptional service to our customers. We look forward to the opportunity to continue to serve our loyal guests for many years to come.


Federal election 2015: Lethbridge NDP candidate Cheryl Meheden

LETHBRIDGE – “We are ready for this and Lethbridge is ready for change.”

Cheryl Meheden is running for the NDP in the 2015 federal election. She says she plans to use every opportunity to get to know constituents and hear what they have to say.

Global News reporter Quinn Campbell asked Meheden a few questions we thought voters would like to know. Below is a transcript of the interview edited for brevity.

Quinn Campbell: What is your message to voters?

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  • Tories lead on the economy, NDP on health care, cost of living: poll

  • Quiz: Which politician wrote it?

Cheryl Meheden: The main message we are getting out to Lethbridge is that they need good representation in Ottawa. They need a candidate to represent them who has experience, education and skills that can have them be heard. Secondary to that, the conservative government has let us down.

QC: What is your background?

CM: I’m a small business owner in Lethbridge. I’m the founder of Urban Grocer. I’m also an educator; I teach in the School of Business at Lethbridge College and have also taught in the Faculty of Management at the University of Lethbridge. I’ve attended the U of L along with other educational institutions with varying degrees because I like to think I’m a lifelong learner. I’ve been involved in the community  for decades as a volunteer in many different areas.

QC: Where is home?

CM: Home is off the farm. So I grew up in rural Alberta, near Medicine Hat, and I’ve lived in Lethbridge almost 30 years.

QC: What’s your campaign plan?

CM: Our plan for our campaign is we are always about the ground game, which means getting out and actually meeting voters. We do a lot of door knocking in person, communicating with people, listening to what they have to say. And when you talk to enough people, you start to hear the same things over and over, and then those issues percolate to the top and you know that they are important.

QC: What are a few key things you plan to focus on?

CM: Some key issues for us here in Lethbridge have to do with good jobs and the economy. There is lots of valid reporting out there from many places such as the CIBC, who’ve told us that job growth in this country has been poor. So part-time work, entry-level work, low-skilled work…so that is a concern. Lethbridge has incredible opportunity with agri-business and we can grow good jobs out of that, so I would like to consider that as well as other economic indicators. We are close to the border so that gives us some opportunity for trade, however when the dollar is almost 30 per cent lower, that makes it quite difficult.

QC: Is this your first experience with politics?

CM: This is not my first experience with politics. This is my first experience as a federal candidate, but I have sat on numerous boards and through all types of governance exercises, so I am well familiar.

Meheden can be reached at:

Campaign office: 918 3 Ave. South

Email/website: Cherylmeheden.ndp杭州丝足

Phone: 403-328-5732


Officials warn of safety risks on Oldman River in Lethbridge

WATCH ABOVE: As people hit the river to cool off, they’re being reminded how dangerous it can be. Quinn Campbell reports.

LETHBRIDGE- For those looking to cool off, the Oldman River has never looked better, but it’s important to exercise water safety.

Dr. Vivien Suttorp with Alberta Health Services says it’s important to plan in case you are out longer than you anticipated, or face an unexpected incident.

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“You have to be cautious,” she said. “Sometimes you’re on the river for two hours and it’s fun, or the river is slower and you are actually on there much longer than expected, so always take extra water with you and also sun block and mosquito spray. Apply the sun block more frequently and reapply after being in the water.”

No matter your age or ability, Brent Nunweiler with Lethbridge Fire & EMS recommends you wear a life jacket on the river at all times.

“You can’t drown when you are wearing a life jacket,” he said. “We will always be able to find you on the surface, so it’s the safest way to travel with a life jacket or a PFD (personal flotation device).”

Consuming alcohol on the river is not only illegal, but dangerous. It could cost you more than the $115 fine.

“It changes your alertness, and that is a big risk in the rivers,” said Dr. Suttorp. “People do not necessarily make the right decisions when their level of alertness is impaired, and if it’s not the alertness that’s an issue, its dehydration.”

It’s also important to choose the right raft, as the low water levels expose even more hazards.

“Whatever you’re using for floating, make sure they’re a little bit better quality, because with the water level being low with high rocks, trees, debris…You could rip them pretty easy and you could get stranded,” said Nunweiler. “It’s a long walk, especially if no one knows you’re down there.”

It’s not just the obvious debris that can harm you. Dr. Suttorp says there are some serious hidden risks.

“As the river levels are lower and the flow is slower, we often have increasing other bacteria and parasites that may be populating and increasing in numbers in our rivers,” she said. “So do not drink the water and make sure you shower off afterwards.”

Dr. Suttorp added that when it comes to water quality in the rivers, it’s up to the users.

“The rivers, where there is no beaches, are not being monitored for that, so it’s basically taking your own risk.”