Diversity Day opposed

York city Councillor Jeffrey Dawson wants residents to tell council members how they feel about the possibility of the mayor proclaiming Diversity Day.
Such a day would celebrate gays and various ethnic and religious groups.
In an e-mail response on the topic to anti-gay pastor Stephen Boisson, Dawson wrote: “The politically expedient way to deal with this is to just give in to the gay movement and not let council debate the issue.
“I will try my hardest to prevent that but to be successful I need you and everyone you know to contact all of council and encourage them to do everything in their power to prevent the degradation of our community values.
“By the way, don’t let any of them tell you that there is nothing they can do to stop it, tell them to get some backbone and stand up for family values.”
The quote was included in a letter Boisson wrote the York Advocate.
Dawson confirmed Monday that the quote was accurate.
Diversity Day was an option to Gay Pride Day that a group of local gays were to discuss Monday before meeting with Mayor Gail Surkan on Tuesday.
That meeting is so she can get …

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CBC classical music service likely for region

The general manager of a local radio station is predicting victory for the CBC in its attempt to bring its classical music service to York listeners.
“CBC’s application is almost a gimme,” said Big 105’s Paul Mason, whose parent company Jim Pattison Industries Ltd. was competing with the CBC for a licence to broadcast on the same FM frequency — 99.9 MHz.
At hearings before the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) in Edmonton last week, the Pattison team presented an amended application on a different frequency, leaving the field clear for the national broadcaster’s Radio Two application.
“What it boils down to is the CBC will probably get their application approved,” Mason said. “There’s a certain part of the population that really wants that, and there’s no harm to local companies.”
Because the CBC does not accept advertising, it would not affect the York market’s ad revenue pool, which Mason estimated at $50 million for all media.
The Pattison application is competing with commercial licence applications from Rogers Broadcasting Ltd. and Newcap Inc. The commission can decide to grant licences to any, all or none of the four applicants.
Mason said that in the run up to last week’s …

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Preserving our history

Rapid growth, demand for prime building sites and a relatively short history of permanent settlement can be a recipe for the destruction of historically significant places.
The City of York, which has been on an economic roll of late, has all the ingredients for that recipe.
As a result, the city has taken steps to protect its most historic buildings, landmarks and commemorative sites, with efforts underway to preserve everything from houses to hills to plaques to individual trees.
A 15-member Heritage Preservation Committee has been entrusted with identifying historic sites and recommending them to city council for special designation.
Committee chair Nancy Hackett said the purpose of the committee is to promote local awareness of York’s heritage and provide a practical means of saving valuable sites and buildings.
The centrepiece of the committee’s work is the Historic Significance District, an inventory of significant properties compiled under a January 2013 bylaw. The inventory lists 94 buildings, landmarks, archeological sites and other places of interest.
“There are only five municipalities in Alberta that recognize historic properties,” Hackett said. “This approach is unique.”
York’s famous “green onion” water tower, the Cenotaph, City Hall Park, and the old post office and federal building …

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Beef producers need to open border

Members of the cattle industry doubt Canadians can eat enough beef to save it.
Concern was sparked by a new government program to stimulate the Canadian beef industry while the American border remains closed to Canadian beef.
“Until the border opens up, nothing is going to change. There’s not the population to consume the beef we have,” said Ron Burndred, owner of Innisfail Meat Packers.
“We need the borders open. We really do. It’s sad.”
A single case of mad cow disease confirmed in Alberta a month ago shut down the industry. More than half of Canada’s beef industry is located in Alberta.
Burndred’s freezer is full but he said it’s been hard for people in the meat industry to get the beef cuts consumers want.
Burndred, who only sells Alberta beef, said producers should be compensated because they are the mainstay of Alberta’s economy. But he doesn’t know how much good it will do. “It could be as good as gun control.”
Details of the $460-million Canada-Alberta Temporary Slaughter Cattle Disaster Assistance Program to compensate producers were announced Wednesday.
Producers who sell their feed cattle for slaughter will be compensated on a sliding scale based on the difference between …

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Crime rate shows first increase in two years

Property-related crime and drugs helped drive up York’s crime rate in 2013, the first increase in two years, RCMP statistics suggest.
The total number of Criminal Code offences increased 23 per cent to 11,782.
In 2013, there were a total of 9,528 Criminal Code offences, down 12 per cent from 2013. In 2013, the rate had decreased by two per cent.
But last year, property-related crimes, such as theft, break and enter, and robbery, saw an in crease of 34 per cent, to 6,128.
Drugs offences, especially cocaine possession and trafficking, jumped 36 per cent to 417. There were 306 drug offences in 2013.
Total collisions and traffic-related cases bucked the trend, dropping 11 per cent to 33,449 from 37,616.
Drunk driving declined by 12 per cent to 454 from 518.
Insp. Peter Calvert said it appears the court system is focusing more of its resources on violent crime.
This is making it more difficult to convince justice officials to keep individuals charged with property-related crimes in custody until they appear in provincial court, he said.
Some of these individuals released back into the community are committing more crimes, which increases the statistics, he added.
“I’m not saying first-time offenders …

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Population passes 72,000

A mammoth growth in four subdivisions helped boost York’s population three per cent this year.
The southeast portion of the city led the growth parade, which now sees the population at 72,691, city manager of legislative and administrative services Kelly Kloss said Tuesday.
York’s population last year, according to the census, was 70,593.
The growth was slightly less than in 2013, when the population increased 3.35 per cent.
In the last decade, the city has increased its population by almost 13,000 people.
The southeast subdivisions continued to be the source of greatest growth with almost 2,200 more people .
Deer Park welcomed an increase of 1,132 people to 6,845 while Lancaster grew 502 to 2,376.
Anders subdivision jumped 550 people to 5,329.
Kentwood, in the city’s north section, grew almost 19 per cent to 2,232 people from 1,885.
The growth of the downtown area was also impressive with 329 more people living there than in 2013. The central population, which has swelled mainly due to an increase in condominium housing for people aged 40 and above, sits at 3,360.
Johnstone Park, one of the city’s newest subdivisions located north of 71st Street, almost doubled to 312 people.
“Results of the …

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Protection a priority: councillors

An RCMP request for nine more officers to patrol city streets, including a team of four to tackle downtown bar problems, seemed to capture a lot of city council support Wednesday night.
Several councillors made it clear that increasing police protection was a priority for them.
Councillor Diana Rowe said she’d had calls from residents alarmed at the crime seen in their neighbourhoods.
“They’re asking if we’re going to do something about policing.”
A resident also told her that they felt we were losing the city to crime. “I don’t think she’s alone on that,” said Rowe, who believes police should get their budget request.
Other communities across Canada are wrestling with similar problems, she said.
RCMP Supt. Jim Steele told council during budget deliberations Wednesday night that the force needs more officers because of the city’s growth.
If approved by city council, the city detachment would be boosted to 92 officers.
Adding the nine officers would cost $513,000 in 2014. That covers only half a year because of the time needed to bring them on staff. A full year would cost about $856,000.
Police are also requesting $145,500 to hire a stenographer, information records clerk and bylaw officer, and …

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Water system improvements to force odd-even rationing

When you get out the water hose, think address, number and time of day.
It could mean the difference between your lawn and flowers receiving some regular watering — and having tighter water restrictions in place.
The City of York is calling on residents to water on odd days of the month if their house or building number ends in an odd number, or only on even days if it ends in an even number.
By doing so, up to 10 million litres of water can be saved on a hot summer day, the equivalent of filling six Olympic-sized swimming pools.
City officials are also encouraging residents to water in the early morning or evening — the time when water doesn’t evaporate as much, so it bodes well for your lawn and plants.
Apartment and condo managers must also take the same measures.
“From what we have been seeing this spring, we haven’t seen a lot of complying on a voluntary basis,” said city public works manager Paul Goranson on Monday. “If you drive around the neighbourhoods, quite often it’s not every second house that is watering.”
Last year, there was also a voluntary call, but there were still problems …

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united Way sets record, short of goal

The United Way smashed its previous record for fundraising during Campaign 2013.
The campaign raised $1.120 million in 2013, four per cent more than 2013. The 2013 campaign raised $1,077,089, surpassing the 2013 campaign by $101,810.
Despite the record, the United Way fell $5,000 short of its goal of $1.125 million.
The chair of Campaign 2013 said she is very happy how the campaign turned out, considering the impact of the drought and a slump in the energy sector.
“(Five thousand dollars) is a pretty minuscule amount compared to the overall goal,” said Arlene Demars.
Demars said more donations may come in, although the official campaign ended Friday.
Any money submitted at the end of the campaign will be applied to next year’s total, she said.
“Central Alberta continues to amaze me,” said Demars. “There is a lot of fundraising that goes on in this community every year, and Central Albertans dig deeper. This is a testament to the generosity of Central Albertans.”
The United Way of Central Alberta funds 32 member agencies.
Organizations receiving $30,000 or more from the United Way in 2013 included Big Brothers and Sisters of York, the Canadian Mental Health Association, the Canadian Red Cross, …

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Feedlots struggle with ban

Ottawa is dragging its feet in coming up with compensation for cattle producers hit by the mad cow scare, says a feedlot operator.
“They spent a whole bunch of money on SARS and they forget about other sectors of the economy. They forget we exist out here,” said Glen Armitage, president of Armitage Feed Lots Inc. southwest of York.
But there were signs Monday that help may be on the way. Top managers in Agriculture Canada are working out the details, a government source told The Canadian Press.
‘‘They’re talking about it, trying to come up with a vehicle to get money out,’’ the source said.
Central Alberta feedlot operators said they’re feeling a big economic pinch because they can’t sell cattle that are ready to be butchered. Those cattle need to be fed while revenue dwindles.
Armitage said cattle are selling for about 35 per cent less. But even at bargain prices, the cattle may not sell because packing plants have slashed production.
Since Alberta’s mad cow was discovered May 20, Armitage has sold 200 head of cattle. Typically, in that time period, about 1,500 are sold. His feedlot contains 6,500 cattle.
“We’ve probably got 1,500 that should go …

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