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.

©2015

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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    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.

©2015

57 animals seized by BC SPCA in Surrey

WATCH: Nealy 60 animals have been seized by the BC SPCA from a farm in Surrey. All of the animals were found in poor health and in terrible living conditions. Catherine Urquhart reports

The BC SPCA has seized 57 animals following an investigation into animal neglect complaints in Surrey.

In total, 35 dogs of medium and small breeds, 16 horses and six cats were taken from a property. The animals were kept in substandard living conditions without proper access to water, food or shelter, and were found suffering from severe malnutrition. The horses found on the property also had chipped, cracked and overgrown hooves.

WATCH: Meet Leonard and Nicholas, two of the dogs now up for adoption

An animal cruelty investigation is also underway by the SPCA.

Among the 57 animals removed from the property were 16 horses with chipped, cracked and overgrown hooves

BC SPCA

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According to BC SPCA chief prevention and enforcement officer Marcie Moriarty, the dogs had been transferred to the Vancouver SPCA shelter and hospital for initial care Tuesday, but will be distributed to SPCA shelters across the Lower Mainland this week for further care and adoption.

The cost for rehabilitating the animals is estimated at $20,000.

“Whenever we have a large seizure of animals it puts added strain on our financial and staff resources,” said Moriarty.

The SPCA will be relying on donations and possible adoptions for the rehabilitation of the animals.

“The BC SPCA would be grateful for any donations to help support the ongoing care and treatment for these animals and we hope that new, loving homes can be found for them as soon as possible,” said Moriarty.

She noted that it is particularly challenging to find homes for horses, given the specialized needs and costs associated with equine care.

©2015

Boil water advisory issued for North Battleford, Sask.

NORTH BATTLEFORD, Sask. – A boil water advisory has been issued for North Battleford, Sask. A city-wide precautionary drinking water advisory (PDWA) was issued following an operations failure at the water treatment plant.

According to officials, partially treated water bypassed one of the treatment processes and flowed into the treated water reservoir of the surface water plant.

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The water quality alarm at the water surface plant sounded six minutes later and the plant was shut down. They say the incident, which happened Tuesday, occurred due to an operational error.

In a release, officials say an evaluation of the situation indicate “that in all likelihood the partially treated water remained within the water treatment plant.”

Crews are flushing the water main closest to the surface water treatment plant “as an additional precaution to reduce the risk in the event water had somehow escaped the plant before shutdown.”

Officials say water should be boiled for at least one minute at a rolling boil before consumption or for other purposes including brushing teeth, washing fruits and vegetables or making ice cubes.

They also say no one should drink from public fountains supplied with water from the public water supply.

Under most circumstances, water does not need to be boiled for other household purposes. Adults, teens and older children can still shower or bathe using tap water, but should avoid swallowing the water. Younger children and infants should be sponge-bathed.

The PDWA will remain in place until further notice.

READ MORE: North Battleford fined for waterworks violations

The last time there was a city-wide boil water order in North Battleford was in 2001 when Cryptosporidium parvum was detected in the system.

Between six- and seven-thousand people became ill after consuming water but no fatalities were reported.

©2015

3 British Navy sailors charged in alleged gang rape can return home to U.K.

WATCH ABOVE: Three of four British Navy sailors charged in connection with an alleged gang rape in our region are looking to go home. After two days of testimony from several witnesses, a Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge has made a decision. Global’s Natasha Pace reports.

HALIFAX  – Three of four British Navy sailors charged in connection with an alleged gang rape are being allowed to return home pending their trial.

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The four accused are Simon Radford, Joshua Finbow, Craig Stoner and Darren Smalley. The men were in Nova Scotia as part of a hockey tournament in April. It’s alleged they committed a group sexual assault against a young woman in the military barracks at CFB Shearwater.

All four were granted bail earlier this year, and have been staying with a British military training group at CFB Suffield in Alberta.

Joshua Finbow, Simon Radford and Craig Stoner then asked the court for changes to their bail terms to allow them to return to the United Kingdom. The fourth accused, Darren Smalley, did not ask to change his conditions and remains in Alberta.

Wednesday afternoon, a Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge decided Finbow, Radford and Stoner could vary their conditions and return to the UK.

Justice Josh Arnold told the sailors they must abide by a number of terms, including providing $10,000 cash bail each, staying away from the alleged victim and surrendering their passports to the British Royal Navy when they return to the United Kingdom. The British Royal Navy has stipulated in court that they will not deploy the men until June 2017, unless their court appearances conclude sooner.

The three must also report each Friday by phone to Dartmouth Provincial Court and be in Canada a minimum of five days before their next scheduled court appearance.

Scott Morrison, the Crown Attorney handling the case, said he was concerned about the men being a flight risk, but the extra conditions the court imposed provides more reassurance.

“The court has put together a bail plan that is far more restrictive and specific then what was proposed, at the end of the day if the court is satisfied this will bring these men back to court, then the crown is equally satisfied,” Morrison said following the bail decision.

Morrison said he was also concerned about what would happen if the men were to leave the United Kingdom or be deployed. “I think the unique situation that could shape up here is if these men had ever been deployed, jurisdiction would have been a very difficult issue to resolve, so as long as they remain in the United Kingdom, Canada has a good relationship with the United Kingdom, and at this point we’ve had good cooperation so there’s nothing to lead us to conclude that wouldn’t continue,” said Morrison.

©2015

Top 10 worst intersections for collisions in Winnipeg: MPI

WINNIPEG — More than 9,000 collisions happened over the last five years at the city’s top 10 collision prone intersections.

According to MPI, 9,058 collisions took place between 2010 and the end of 2014. That equals out to nearly five collisions a day.

Map showing top 10 intersections for collisions in Winnipeg, click dots for details:

More than a quarter of these collisions, 2,401 or 27 per cent, happened on Bishop Grandin, some resulting in fatalities. Bishop Grandin is a part of number 5, 6 and 8 on the top ten list.

RELATED: Breaking down pedestrian fatalities in Winnipeg over the last 5 years

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Two young women were killed and three others were injured, two critically after a 17-year-old female ran a red light at Bishop Grandin and St. Mary’s Road in 2010. A 17-year-old female entered guilty pleas to two counts of criminal negligence causing death and two counts of criminal negligence causing bodily harm while impaired driving charges were dropped.

RELATED: Texting, speeding driver given two years in jail for fatal crash

Two 11-year-old girls were struck and seriously hurt while walking to school at Bishop Grandin and St. Anne’s Road in 2013.

RELATED: Girls were walking to class at different school when they were hit

Another 25 per cent or 2,226 of the crashes happened on Kenaston Boulevard. The intersections to watch out for on Kenaston are McGillvray Boulevard coming in at number 2, and Grant Avenue following at number 3.

RELATED: Recent collisions renew call for motorists to drive to conditions

Top 10 list: 2010-2014

    Leila Avenue and McPhilips Street1,319Kenaston Boulevard and McGillvray Boulevard1,265Grant Avenue and Kenaston Boulevard961Lagimodiere Boulevard and Regent Avenue W956Bishop Grandin Boulevard and St. Mary’s Road876Bishop Grandin Boulevard and St. Anne’s Road806Archibald Street and Marion Street763Bishop Grandin Boulevard and Waverley Street719Portage Avenue and St James Street701Portage Avenue and Moray Street692

©2015

Seven portables destroyed in south Edmonton school fire

WATCH ABOVE: Parents, students and teachers stopped by École Frère Antoine Wednesday to check out the damage caused by a fire Tuesday afternoon. Fletcher Kent has the details. 

EDMONTON — Fire crews continue to investigate what caused a south Edmonton elementary school to catch fire Tuesday afternoon.

Fire crews were called to École Frère Antoine, located in the area of 28 Avenue and Mill Woods Road, around 4 p.m. Tuesday.

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While the cause is still not known, the fire broke out in the school’s portables. A spokesperson with Edmonton Catholic Schools said Wednesday morning school officials have not yet been able to get into the main school building to assess the damage, but several portables will have to be replaced.

“What we do know this morning is that we will have to replace seven of the modular classrooms,” said Lori Nagy.

“We found out that the roof that was being repaired on one of the portables is not the portable where the fire started, so that has been ruled out as a possible cause.”

Nagy said the education minister has already reached out to offer support and said he will expedite the delivery of seven modular classrooms.

Nagy said the school district is working on a plan, which may include using the gym or library as temporary classrooms. Sending students to another school is also a possibility, but Nagy said they won’t have a concrete plan in place until they can get inside the school to assess the damage.

Several parents and teacher stopped by the site to check out the damage Wednesday and said it’s about much more than just the physical structures.

“When I saw it this morning it was pretty heartbreaking,” said Nicole St. Jean, a teacher at the school.

“This is a French Immersion school and it’s extremely difficult to find appropriate resources for the students, so a lot of the teachers spend a lot of their own personal money and time creating resources by hand, on the computer, just so that it’ll fit into their classroom environment.”

Dally Songa said her daughter, who is going into Grade 3 in the fall, was crying when they walked past the school Wednesday morning.

“My daughter, she’s very excited to start Grade 3 but I don’t know what will happen. It’s so sad.”

Fellow parent Jennifer Kojder said it’s tough not knowing what will happen, but hopes the students will be able to stay together.

“We’re a very close-knit school community and I think as parents and teachers we’ll all work together to do whatever we can to keep the kids together… Wherever it may be.”

Nagy said school officials should be able to go inside late Thursday or early Friday. Each portable that was lost was worth about $500,000. The portables were used for Grade 1 and 2 classes.

Updates on the school will be posted to Frère Antoine’s website. Nagy said they hope to have a plan in place by early next week.

A local group has started collecting items for the teachers. You can visit the group on Facebook.

WATCH: Edmonton Catholic Schools comments on fire at École Frère Antoine

A fire at École Frère Antoine, located in the area of 28 Avenue and Mill Woods Road, Tuesday, August 11, 2015.

Global News

A fire at École Frère Antoine, located in the area of 28 Avenue and Mill Woods Road, Tuesday, August 11, 2015.

Global News

A fire at École Frère Antoine, located in the area of 28 Avenue and Mill Woods Road, Tuesday, August 11, 2015.

Global News

A fire at École Frère Antoine, located in the area of 28 Avenue and Mill Woods Road, Tuesday, August 11, 2015.

Global News

A fire at École Frère Antoine, located in the area of 28 Avenue and Mill Woods Road, Tuesday, August 11, 2015.

Global News

A fire at École Frère Antoine, located in the area of 28 Avenue and Mill Woods Road, Tuesday, August 11, 2015.

Global News

A fire at École Frère Antoine, located in the area of 28 Avenue and Mill Woods Road, Tuesday, August 11, 2015.

Cliff Harris, Global News

Damage at École Frère Antoine Wednesday August 12, 2015 one day after a fire.

Craig Ryan, Global News

Damage at École Frère Antoine Wednesday August 12, 2015 one day after a fire.

Craig Ryan, Global News

Damage at École Frère Antoine Wednesday August 12, 2015 one day after a fire.

Craig Ryan, Global News

Damage at École Frère Antoine Wednesday August 12, 2015 one day after a fire.

Craig Ryan, Global News

 *Editor’s Note: This story was originally published on Tuesday, August 11, 2015. It was updated at 11:40 a.m. Wednesday.

©2015

Dog in distress? Nope. It’s just living in a parked van

EDMONTON — City officials say they can do nothing about a dog that has been living in a van in Edmonton for weeks because the animal is not in distress.

The city, police service, fire department and humane society have been flooded with calls about the golden retriever in a Ford Windstar van regularly parked behind a car wash on Jasper Avenue and 116th Street.

The Edmonton Humane Society said it discourages pet owners from leaving dogs in vehicles, but unless its officers see a dog in immediate distress, there’s nothing they can do.

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Mayor Don Iveson said “this is not a desirable situation” for the dog, and the city is working with the society, which is responsible for enforcement of the Animal Protection Act, to find a resolution.

“The Mayor’s Office has spoken with Animal Control department and they advise that the windows are open providing fresh air for the dog and that it is well and not in distress,” Iveson said in a Facebook post. “Thank you for your concerns and input.”

There are more than 5,000 signatures on a change杭州丝足 petition calling on the mayor and police to do more.

Deanna Kubbernus said she has known about the dog since July 24, and started the petition on Monday after repeated calls to officials yielded no change and the temperature began to rise to dangerous levels.

“This is not a witch hunt. What we’re trying to do is get this dog to safety and help this gentleman.

“We really need to review our bylaws. If a dog is contained 24/7 in the heat outside, the humane society can do something about that. However, when it’s in a vehicle, this is a grey area.”

She said an animal rescue group and a Good Samaritan with a dog-friendly apartment for rent have offered to help the dog’s owner.

Global Edmonton has tried on several occasions this week to find the van without success.

©2015