May 25th, 2024

Year In Review – 2021 Headlines April to June


By Lethbridge Herald on December 28, 2021.

Herald files - Lethbridge singer songwriter Corb Lund speaks at the “Save My Mountains” rally at the Rocking P. Ranch with the proposed mountain, Cabin Ridge, directly in the background that would be targeted for mountaintop removal if coal mining went ahead. Board chair Christine Light speaks to reporters regarding the Lethbridge School Division’s decision not to participate in the province’s draft K-6 curriculum pilot process. In this photo courtesy Gabriel Yanicke, a researcher uses ground-pentrating radar to hunt for evidence of pre-Clovis human occupation, as projectile points and other tools discovered at Wally’s Beach provide evidence that pre-Clovis peoples use of the site for hunting.

Over the next days leading up to the new year the Herald presents a synopsis of the stories from Lethbridge and area that made headlines in 2021: 

APRIL

Woman won’t testify in her trial for aggravated assault

A woman accused of being part of a gang-style attack against a younger boy more than a year ago in Lethbridge was not called to testify at her trial. After hearing from numerous Crown witnesses for two and a half days, the Crown concluded its case, and Calgary lawyer Andre Ouellette chose not to call any evidence or have his client, Trinity Savard, testify in court. The case has been adjourned until May 28 when the Crown and defence will provide Judge Gregory Maxwell with their closing arguments. Maxwell could provide his decision then or adjourn it to a later date. Savard, 19, is charged with aggravated assault in relation to an attack about midnight on Dec. 5, 2019 in which a 16-year-old boy was brutally beaten and stabbed. 

Lethbridge School Division rejects draft curriculum

The Lethbridge School Division is refusing to pilot the UCP government’s widely criticized draft K-6 curriculum, and is asking the province to take it back to the shop for a complete overhaul. “We are calling on the province to stop this process and take the curriculum back and start again,” confirmed LSD board chair Christine Light in a press conference. “There are too many flaws in this curriculum to validate in a pilot process and make minor tweaks. It is beyond minor tweaks. It just needs a complete overhaul.” Light felt the proposed curriculum does not meet the needs of 21st century education as it stands and has “glaring holes” on top of proven plagiarism and the use of uncredited sources included within it.

Possibility of pre-Clovis camp in southern Alberta 

Wally’s Beach just might turn out to hold the Holy Grail of archaeological research in North America, Gabriel Yanicke, curator of Western Archaeology at the Canadian Museum of History, recently told members of the Southeastern Archaeological Society: namely, a pre-Clovis human occupation site.

“The paradigm for a lot of years, the latter half of the 20th century really, was Clovis first,” stated Yanicke, who explained this supposition further in an interview with The Herald. “Clovis is an archaeologically known culture defined primarily by a very distinctive style of stone projectile points– a fluted, lancellated spearpoint. That fluting is really distinctive, and it is the first style of stone tool to really show up all across North America, and it shows up all at once with a period of 150 to 300 years. So the Clovis culture appears, and then it disappears. It is replaced by later variants. But the dates on the bones at Wally’s Beach, and this is what makes the site so significant, pre-date the Clovis culture by as much as 300 years.” 

Stephans to appeal ruling on their trial to top court

A toddler’s parents who have faced two trials related to his death say they want to take an Appeal Court order for a third trial to the Supreme Court of Canada. David and Collet Stephan appeared via video in  a courtroom in Lethbridge, Alta. “We are in the process of filing an application for leave to the Supreme Court of Canada in this matter,”said lawyer Shawn Buckley, who is representing David Stephan.

University accounting clerk charged with stealing more than $500,000

A former accounting clerk with the University of Lethbridge has been charged with theft and fraud by the Lethbridge Police Service’s Economic Crimes Unit (ECU) after allegedly stealing over $500,000 during a period of a year from the institution. The LPS confirmed in a release it had charged Donna Court, 57, with fraud over $5,000, theft over $5,000 and possession of stolen property over $5,000.

According to police, the investigation began in 2018 when the woman’s employer, the University of Lethbridge, contacted police after detecting a potential fraud through their internal processes. 

Local octopus expert part of Oscar-winning documentary

She didn’t win the Oscar herself but Jennifer Mather can still celebrate after serving as scientific advisor on the Academy Award winning documentary “My Octopus Teacher,” now showing on Netflix. Mather is a psychology professor and octopus expert who was originally contacted by the BBC which wanted her expertise on footage shot of an octopus. She was then asked by the BBC if South African filmmaker Craig Foster could contact her about a film he was doing about a year he spent with a wild octopus in the Great African Seaforest on the southwest tip of Africa.

MAY

Proposed Peenaquim disc golf course drawing some concerns

A disc golf course planned for Peenaquim Park has caught dog owners by surprise and a developer who has designed many courses in Alberta says he cited opposition to the site years ago. A large white City of Lethbridge sign with black lettering at the northside dog park has appeared at the park that states “Future home of the Lethbridge West Lions Club disc golf course coming this summer.” Craig Burrows-Johnson, who designed the Nicholas Sheran course and countless others in Alberta, said the site is inappropriate for such a course.

Economic SPC recommends funding for green bin program

The Economic Standing Policy Committee of city council narrowly approved about $3.5 million a year over the next four years as a capital investment in a curbside organics “green bin” program in the 2022-2031 Capital Improvement Program cycle. The motion, sponsored by Coun. Jeffrey Carlson, passed by a vote of 5-4 after Coun. Jeffrey Coffman made a last minute attempt to postpone approval of the funding until Jan. 2022 to allow more time for community feedback on the project. “I would like to see a little further community engagement on this,” he said. “In doing this in the context of the CIP that just doesn’t sit comfortably with me.

Mauro walks away from Economic Standing Policy Committee meetings 

On Day Three of Economic Standing Policy Committee Capital Improvement Program deliberations Coun. Joe Mauro decided to withdraw his participation from the meetings for the rest of the week.

Mauro said 20 years of frustration with the process is behind his decision to refuse to perform this duty of an elected council member in this instance. “We (on council) have served this community and this term for 44 months,” he stated. “We are elected to serve 48 months. We are now passing a (CIP) budget where we are handing over to the next council to have to be accountable and responsible for the decisions this council makes. To me that has always been an unfair process, and I have stated that every time we had a budget. So this should come as no surprise to anyone.”

ASIRT investigating Lethbridge Police Service officer 

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team will be investigating allegations that a Lethbridge Police Service member potentially mishandled evidence. The LPS suspended the officer with pay and ordered an internal investigation into professional misconduct under the Police Act and Police Service Regulation. LPS said in a press release that investigation will be held in abeyance until ASIRT has finished is work. ASIRT said in a press release that on May 11 it was directed to investigate the circumstances of the matter. 

Piikani at odds over coal mining, says society chair

The Mountain Child Valley Society represents the true opinion of the people of Piikani First Nation on the issue of the Grassy Mountain Coalmine, and not the elected leadership which decided to make a deal with mining giant Benga and its Canadian partner Riversdale Resources, says Adam North Peigan, chair of the society. “What had happened at Piikani First Nation is there was some consultation that was done, but it was on a government to government relationship,” he says. 

Coaldale mayor not running again this fall

Mayor Kim Craig says the cloud of negativity hanging over Coaldale for much of the past year has not diminished his high hopes for the community as he gets set to retire from municipal politics. Craig confirmed to The Herald he would not be running as mayor again this fall. “I served five terms on council and four consecutive terms as mayor,” he stated. “I have worked diligently and hard for the citizens of Coaldale, and served with the blessing of having many good members of council and a top-notch management team. We have been able to achieve many things this term. I feel I am able to end my career in Coaldale politics on a high note.” 

Palliser facing $1.5 million deficit in 2021-22 budget

The Palliser School Division is facing a deficit of about $1.5 million after its board of trustees passed a motion to accept the 2021-22 budget. The board will be asking permission from Education Minister Adriana LaGrange to use some reserve funds to balance the budget. In a press release, the school division said that revenues for the 2021-22 school year “remained the same as the funding profile supplied by Alberta Education in the spring of 2020. The Palliser School Division is pleased there was no funding reduction but is concerned that funding for student growth and increases in costs are not being met, putting a strain on the education system.” 

JUNE

“Save My Mountains” event voices opposition to coal mining

Lethbridge singer songwriter Corb Lund held a private “Tribute to the Mountains” concert at the Rocking P. Ranch to support the local “Save My Mountains” event hosted by Mac and Renie Blades who ranch directly under the proposed metallurgical coal mine at Cabin Ridge. Lund said he wanted to do the concert to help preserve these lands in the headwaters of the Livingstone and Oldman Rivers that are “sacred” to him. “I don’t mean to be hippie about it,” said Lund, “but this land is pretty sacred to me. We are a couple of hours south of here in the foothills, but it is the same story as these folks. Many generations on the land. And it is not just about landowners either. As you drove in, there are fishermen, guys hunt up here, hike, and camp, and all that stuff. (Mining) just doesn’t make any sense.”

Mothers demand action on Blood Tribe overdose crisis

Members of the Blood Tribe, mainly mothers who have lost loved ones to drug overdoses, held a solemn march from Red Crow Park up the hill in Standoff ending outside of the Blood Tribe Administration building. The group of mothers held up photos of the children and other loved ones they lost to drugs in the community to demand more action from Blood Tribe leadership on the overdose crisis on the First Nation. “I lost two kids two years ago,” said Shannon Eagle Speaker, who spoke on behalf of the group of a dozen mothers and their supporters. “One was 15 through overdose. The other was 19 four months later. They were four months apart, and they overdosed.” 

Lockdowns called wrong approach to pandemic

Lockdowns were the wrong approach to tackling the global pandemic in Canada, argues David Redman, a retired Lieutenant Colonal and former head of Emergency Management Alberta, and has led to unnecessary deaths and undue economic hardship over the past 15 months. During a Hot Topics webinar, Redman explored how in his view Canada’s governments, both federal and provincial, have failed to formulate the proper response to the pandemic while contending the use of lockdowns has cost lives and caused unnecessary damage to the economy.

Charges stayed against Stephans

Crown prosecutors have stayed charges against parents who were facing a third trial in the death of their toddler in southern Alberta. Shawn Buckley, a lawyer for David and Collet Stephan, said Tuesday he received a letter from the Crown about the decision. “The Crown dropped the charges,” Buckley told The Canadian Press. “Obviously they’re very relieved that the Crown is not proceeding against them to try and convict them.”

Southern Alberta irrigation districts merger approved by boards

The boards of both the St. Mary River Irrigation District and the Taber Irrigation District have approved a merger, in principle, between the two organizations. David Westwood, general manager for the SMRID and the designated spokesperson for the TID on the merger issue, said given the long history between the two districts who share the same source waters, and the fact the TID is basically surrounded by the much larger SMRID to both the east and west, that some form of merger has been contemplated for some time. However, recent provincial government grants of $815 million to improve and expand irrigation infrastructure and acres in southern Alberta have really shifted those conversations into overdrive, said Westwood. 

Remembering Terry Fox 40 years after his passing

On June 28, 1981 cancer claimed the life of a Canadian hero, a man whose legacy is still felt to this day. Terry Fox was a month shy of his 23rd birthday when he died in New Westminster B.C. days after being re-admitted to hospital. Fox was a talented athlete playing various sports in his youth but life changed in his first year of university when he developed pain in his right knee, waking up one morning to discover he couldn’t stand. A week later Fox learned he had a malignant tumour but his chances of survival were between 50 and 70 per cent.

City repeals mask bylaw effective July 1

After an emotionally charged session which had a little bit of everything in terms of political drama, city council has repealed its local Temporary Mandatory Face Covering Bylaw as of July 1. The issue pretty much dominated the entirety of Tuesday’s meeting, which started with a small group of anti-masking and anti-vaccine protestors outside city hall, featured impassioned speeches on the issue, included procedural challenges on the use of props by councillors, and elicited non-committal responses from local public health officials on the value of the local masking bylaw.

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