Industrial explosion left fire crews battling blaze at crude oil tank farm northeast of Edmonton

An industrial explosion at a crude oil tank farm took place Saturday afternoon at SECURE Energy’s Elk Point facility northeast of Edmonton.

“Talking to some of the local people, they heard the percussion. Some of them felt the percussion when it happened,” Two Hills County Reeve Don Gulayec said.

Gulayec said more than 35 firefighters from several departments along with RCMP and EMS initially responded.

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The county also cut off the natural gas and electricity to the site.

“Basically, you’re dealing with a tank farm that holds hydrocarbon material, and they are all on fire. It’s huge. The thing is you don’t know what the potential for an explosion or things like that are,” Gulayec said.

Gulayec said experts in industrial explosions were brought in to suppress and control the fire. The Alberta Energy Regulator and an agency to monitor the air quality were also on site. As a precaution, people living nearby were evacuated from their homes.

“There were no fatalities. Some people were hurt from what I gather, but the extent of their injuries is unknown at this time,” Gulayec said.

In a statement to Global News, Secure Energy said: “At appropriately 2:35 p.m. MST on Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, a fire started at SECURE Energy’s Elk Point facility. Our emergency response plan was immediately initiated, which included contacting local emergency authorities.”

“All employees are safe and accounted for. The fire is out, and we are working with all appropriate authorities to investigate the cause. The safety of our employees, the public and the environment remain our top priority.”

Gulayec said in the end, he is proud of the many men and women who volunteered to help battle this blaze.

“It was a big fire for our area,” Gulayec said.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Former PPC candidate Mark Friesen sent to Ont. hospital with COVID-19, supporters say

For the second straight election, Maxime Bernier's People's Party of Canada has been shut out and in the process, they've prompted complaints to Saskatoon police about public health orders.

Former Saskatoon PPC candidate and well-known critic of COVID-19 restrictions Mark Friesen is in a Toronto hospital with COVID-19, one of his supporters said in a video.

The video is titled “How Long Will Canada Remain Docile?” and was posted on the video platform Rumble. In it, supporter Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson shared details about Friesen’s condition.

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Saskatoon doctor expresses concern with police handling of PPC event

“Many of you are following what is happening with Mark Friesen. I love this man,” Tyler Thompson tells her viewers. “Many of you know, Mark got COVID, he is actually intubated at this time.”

It came to light earlier this week that Friesen had pneumonia and was transferred to Ontario, according to a different video posted by a supporter.

In that video posted Oct. 21, Tamara Lavoie says he has been in the hospital for three weeks. She adds that he was in ICU in Saskatoon and transferred to Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto on Oct. 20.

Lavoie nor her guest, former PPC candidate Jody Craven, mentioned COVID-19 in the video.

On Friday, Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency President Marlo Pritchard said the province’s current focus is moving COVID-19 patients to Ontario, rather than non-COVID-19 patients.

The provincial government covers the estimated $20,000 cost.

Featured in Tyler Thompson’s Oct. 23 video is an interview with Sean Taylor, a former federal candidate for PPC from B.C who says he is with Friesen at Mount Sinai Hospital.

Friesen has not spoken publicly and is not seen in any videos reviewed by Global News that have been posted to social media referencing his illness. His family members have also not been seen or heard from in the social media videos.

Taylor claims to be a former nurse who was fired but does not specify why he was fired.

In the video, Taylor is donned in PPE and mentioned he is not “double” vaccinated and was not allowed to stay in an unidentified hotel.

Global News reached out to Mount Sinai Hospital to ask what their visitor rules are for individuals not fully vaccinated, but a response was not provided before publishing.

Read more:
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Global News has reached out to several of Friesen’s family members for weeks for an update on his health but no one has responded.

“Well, he’s sick, right? He’s in a fight but I’m hopeful,” Taylor says about Friesen’s condition in the video.

Taylor also shared his views about Toronto, a city that has remained under stringent public health measures like gathering restrictions and mask mandates since the beginning of the pandemic.

“When I got off the plane yesterday and started travelling through Toronto, it’s a sci-fi horror movie out here,” Taylor said.

“Just the mind virus out here, like everyone’s masked and face shields and eye shields and it’s just, they’re pretty intense about the stuff out here,” Taylor added.

Tyler Thompson and Taylor also discuss how they claim Friesen was treated in hospital.

“We had some excellent care in Saskatoon, it wasn’t everyone, but the meanness with a lot of the staff and just the complete absence of empathy these days,” Taylor said.

Friesen has been a prominent critic of public health measures related to COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. He has appeared and spoken at rallies across the province and posts about his views on social media pages.

Read more:
Saskatchewan health officials consider next stage of COVID-19 triage

He attended a protest against proof-of-vaccination policies outside City Hospital in Saskatoon prior to the Sept. 20 federal election.

As of Sunday, a total of eight patients have been transferred to Ontario as Saskatchewan continues to battle the fourth wave of the pandemic.

The province currently has the second-highest rate of active COVID-19 cases across the country.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Quebec tables Bill 2, 'most regressive bill proposed on trans rights': advocates

Trans rights advocates are sounding the alarm over new legislation proposed by the provincial government that they say would set Quebec back on transgender issues.

Quietly proposed Thursday by Justice Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette, Bill 2 sets to amend the civil code and only allow trans people who undergo gender-affirming surgery to request an official sex change on their birth certificate.

“This would absolutely make Quebec the most regressive in Canada for trans rights,” said Florence Ashley Paré, a doctoral student at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law who is studying how science is used in legal cases involving trans youth.

READ MORE: Netflix employees stage walkout over anti-transgender comments in Dave Chappelle special

Paré said there is no other province or territory in the country that requires trans people to undergo surgery to access civil status change to their identity.

“This bill will set us back 15 years,” said Québec solidaire’s Manon Massé, who vowed her party would fight the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) bill at the National Assembly.

Paré, who is trans themselves, told Global News the legislation stands out as being the most regressive bill proposed on trans rights in the history of Canada. “All other bills were about progress. This is an exceptional case where we would go back on rights.”

READ MORE: ‘Deadly consequences’: Advocates warn trans people who are black face higher murder rates (2019)

The legislation, which contains 300 articles, will be the subject of public consultations and would essentially create separate sex and gender sections on birth certificates. Should a trans person not have undergone surgery, they would have to assign their sex at birth and would only be eligible to select their gender.

According to Paré and Massé, this would create a dangerous constant outing of trans people that would make them vulnerable to discrimination. “ situations where people might get surgery they otherwise didn’t want just to meet the prerequisite from the government.”

Massé said the bill goes backyards on trans, intersex and non-binary rights in Quebec.

According to data released by the Quebec government in 2017, over 40 per cent of the province’s population surveyed has witnessed an act of homophobic or transphobic discrimination.

A 2020 report from Trans PULSE Canada suggests that trans and non-binary Canadians face increased levels of harassment, physical violence and sexual assault.

–with files from the Canadian Press

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

WATCH: Global National - Oct. 24

Watch the full broadcast of Global National with Robin Gill for Sunday, October 24, 2021.

View more Global National videos here, or submit a photo for our Your Canada segment here.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Preparations for upcoming ski season in Alberta underway

WATCH ABOVE: With the thought of snow starting to creep into Albertans' minds comes the excitement of hitting the slopes. As Jessica Robb explains, preparations for this season are already starting.

Snow isn’t quite in the southern Alberta forecast yet but that hasn’t stopped ski shops, resorts and families from getting ready for the approaching season.

“As everyone’s seen in the previous year, things are really hard to get right now, so it’s really important to get on things early,” said Joe Molina, marketing and web operations manager at Alpenland in Lethbridge.

Last season saw an increase in people looking to try skiing, snowboarding and cross-country skiing as a way to get outside during the pandemic. This led to gear shortages across the country, something Alpenland is trying to avoid this year.

Molina said they started ordering winter gear and apparel at the start of summer or even earlier. They’ve already started reordering products as people are already starting to shop.

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Coronavirus pandemic fuels demand for recreational winter gear

“The industry is really starting to feel the shortages on product, and it was really vital for us to order early,” said Molina. “So even with the reorders, we’re hoping that we’re able to stock up enough for the coming season, but it’s going to be hard to get stuff even as we get closer to December.”

Like most industries, Molina said the ski industry isn’t safe from manufacturing shortages and sourcing material — specifically alloys, like aluminum used to make ski poles.

“We’ve doubled down on them to make sure we have enough equipment that we can sell.”

As soon as Alpenland opened on Saturday morning, families were inside getting ski boots fit.

Brayden and Thomas Baird are young brothers who say they’ve been skiing since they could walk.

They like being daredevils, the thrill and the adrenaline that comes with hitting the slopes.

Last year, both noticed more people on the hill. They were happy to see people out trying the sport they love but it did come with a downside.

“It was nice, but at the same time, the lift lines were a lot longer,” said Brayden.

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Strength in season-pass sales a rare silver lining for B.C. ski resorts post-pandemic

Long lines are to be expected with record turnout, something Castle Mountain Resort saw.

“Last year was exceptionally busy,” said sales and marketing manager Cole Fawcett. “It actually ended up being the busiest season in Castle Mountain Resorts history.”

The resort took on a number of capital projects over the summer, spending almost $1.5 million.

Most was spent on snow-making improvements and adding 1.1 kilometres of snow-making infrastructure to the mountain.

Fawcett said this will help them have more predictable conditions, stay open longer and hopefully, open earlier than their tentative date of Dec. 3.

“Things look like they’re going to be busy, but our expectations are in check.”

If you plan on visiting Castle Mountain Resort, some things will look similar to last year. There will again be a limited number of day passes available to limit capacity.

“That was new for us last year, and it really worked well and kind of kept things to a dull roar on any given day,” said Fawcett. “I think that’s important, pandemic or not, for the guest experience.”

Still, it’s a move Fawcett never saw coming.

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“Three years ago in the industry had you said, ‘Hey, a couple years from now, you’re going to be limiting the number of season passes you sell,’ most of us would have told you to go fly a kite. That just wasn’t something that we would have foreseen as an issue.”

Castle Mountain Resort will be taking part in Alberta’s Restriction Exemption Program. To use the indoor dining spaces, customers must provide proof of full vaccination, a negative COVID-19 rapid antigen, rapid PCR or lab-based PCR test or proof of medical exemption. Masks will also be required indoors when not eating or drinking.

“We’re shifting in the lineups and the base area away from a mask mandate to a mask recommendation,” said Fawcett.

So if you’re looking to get out and hit the slopes this season, those in the industry say there’s no time like the present to start getting ready.

“Despite the warm weather, it’s good to get on this stuff early with the best selection that we have for the season,” said Molina.

“It sucks to come in and get disappointed when you’re halfway through the season and you find out there are no cross-country skis again. That’s a bummer.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Kelowna, Penticton Rotary clubs work to eradicate polio

The Penticton and Kelowna Rotary clubs are working to raise funds to help eradicate polio worldwide.

Oct. 24 is World Polio Day.

“Polio has been with us for a long time,” Sandra Henderson, a spokesperson for the Penticton Sunrise Rotary Club, said in a news release.

“Those old enough will recall getting vaccinations on a sugar cube and other methods at school in the 1950s and 1960s. You will also remember the ‘iron lung’ machine used to support patients unfortunate enough to contract polio.”

Read more:
‘These diseases are now vaccine preventable’: the parallels between polio and COVID-19

Henderson said the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has matched Rotary International’s financial support for its polio program since the early 1980s.

“Vaccinations with the monetary support have resulted in a decline in polio plus program to only two reported cases in 2021,” Henderson said.

“All current cases are in the Afghanistan/Pakistan regions. Africa, for example, has been polio-free for a few years now.”

According to Rotary International, the Canadian federal government has invested nearly $1 billion to eradicate the disease.

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A polio disaster helped shape vaccine safety. Here’s why that matters for the coronavirus

“Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the polio infrastructure Canada helped build has been used to respond to COVID-19,” Rotary International said on its website.

“Polio eradication assets including disease surveillance, data management, risk communication, community mobilization, and coordination structures have been utilized in at least 55 countries.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Manitoba Métis Federation opens newest childcare centre in Dauphin

The Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) is celebrating the opening of its newest childcare centre in Dauphin.

The MMF officially unveiled Michif Children’s Place at a ribbon-cutting ceremony earlier this week.

“Really I think people feel a sense of relief. There’s a place, we got an opportunity, we can look now at coming out post-COVID,” said MMF President David Chartrand.

“People are going to be looking at, ‘I got to get back to work, I need to get there, I need to have a place to put my child.'”

The Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) is celebrating the opening of its newest childcare centre, Michif Children's Place, in Dauphin.

The Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) is celebrating the opening of its newest childcare centre, Michif Children's Place, in Dauphin.

Submitted / Manitoba Métis Federation

The facility has 65 spaces accommodating up to eight infants, 42 toddlers and 15 preschoolers, and will employ about 25 people full-time.

Chartrand says it will also offer both parenting and cultural programs.

“Language is going to be taught, Indigenous languages. Super Dad, Super Kids, they call them, programs are going to be put in place,” Chartrand said.

“Land-based knowledge is going to be attached to it where we’re using our elders to take them on trips to understand the environment … so we’re going to start teaching them at a young age about the importance of the land, the basic importance of the environment, (and) water.”

Read more:
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Michif Children’s Place is just the latest in the MMF’s plans to build about 15 childcare centres across the province, including in Brandon, Thompson, The Pas and Winnipeg.

The first already opened in Duck Bay and another ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held in November for the next one in Saint Eustache.

Chartrand says the MMF is working to provide child care training for between 250 and 300 people over the next several years to help staff the facilities.

Manitoba Métis Federation president David Chartrand (left) during the official ribbon cutting for Michif Children's Place in Dauphin.

Manitoba Métis Federation president David Chartrand (left) during the official ribbon cutting for Michif Children's Place in Dauphin.

Submitted / Manitoba Métis Federation

“If small communities don’t have the population base for daycare centres, what we’re doing that’s different and unique also is we’re privatizing homes. We’re actually training families at their houses to become daycare centres in small villages,” Chartrand said.

“We’re really spreading our services in the context of trying to meet all the needs of our citizens.”

The childcare centres are crucial, Chartrand says, in helping to lift people out of poverty.

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“My mom never went one day of her life into a school classroom … but she knew education was important,” Chartrand said.

“She made sure we never missed school. Because I think even though she never had an education she knew education was a way out of poverty. We started at a young age as we are with childcare programs like this. We’re giving kids a hell of a head start that we never had.

“At the end of the day, once you have an education, no one can ever take it away from you.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Ferry sailings cancelled, wind warning expanded as 'bomb cyclone' hits B.C.'s South Coast

BC Ferries has cancelled multiple sailings on major routes for Monday, as a second powerful “bomb cyclone” weather system approaches the south coast.

Environment Canada expanded a wind warning already in place for parts of Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast to include Metro Vancouver on Sunday afternoon.

Read more:
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Residents of the city’s southwestern areas, including Richmond and Delta, were warned of southeasterly winds of 70 km/h, gusting up to 90 km/h near the water, forecasted to arrive late overnight and through Monday.

Vancouver Island’s west coast is expected to face the worst of the storm, with winds of 80 km/h, gusting up to 100 km/h.

With the strongest winds forecast to hit the inner coast on Monday, BC Ferries said it was cancelling at least 20 morning and early afternoon sailings on the following routes:

  • Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay (Victoria)
  • Tsawwassen-Duke Point (Nanaimo)
  • Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay (Nanaimo)
  • Little River (Comox)-Westview (Powell River)

Travellers should check the BC Ferries service notice website for up to date information.

Read more:
‘Bomb cyclone’: Concerns grow over potentially stronger 2nd storm headed for B.C. coast

By 3:30 p.m. Sunday, BC Hydro was reporting close to 20,000 customers without power on the south coast.

The lions share of the early outages were on the Sunshine Coast, with several thousand customers also affected on Vancouver Island, including in Port Renfrew, Port Alberni and Lake Cowichan.

The power company is warning people to keep away from downed lines if they see them but to call 911.

A “bomb cyclone” is a weather phenomenon involving a low-pressure system that intensifies by rapidly dropping more than 24 millibars in pressure in under 24 hours, according to Global BC meteorologist Kristi Gordon.

A similar system formed off B.C.’s coast on Thursday, though remained off-shore for the most part.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

What Hudson's mayoral candidates would do to preserve the Saint Mary's Parish Hall

WATCH: St. Mary's Parish in Hudson is for sale. The parish has served many purposes over the years. It was home to a library, the community choir, dance classes and craft sales. As Global's Olivia O'Malley reports, some say it's a terrible loss for the community.

Just like the fall leaves, an integral part of the Hudson community is changing. Saint Mary’s Church is selling its Parish Hall on Main Street.

Resident Patrick Gagnon noticed the “For Sale” sign while walking his small dog, “I felt kind of sad, really,” he said.

The Parish Hall was built in 1879 and rebuilt after a fire in 1988.

Global News called and emailed the property’s owner, the Anglican Parish of Vaudreuil, for comment. They did not reply by our deadline.

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Hudson residents say they have many memories of attending activities and classes at the hall. It’s where Gagnon’s son’s afterschool math and reading program was held.

“I think it should be kept up and maintained, and it could probably serve another purpose for the community,” said Gagnon.

Gagnon is not the only resident who says the town should purchase the one-and-a-half-storey building. However, the decision to buy the $689,000 hall rests in the hands of the incoming council.

The town’s incumbent mayor, Jamie Nicholls, who is running for re-election, says he would like to see the community space preserved.

“I would work with citizens groups that are interested in preserving the hall as a community space, whether that be an outright purchase or just a negotiation with the new owner,” he told Global News.

City Councillor Helen Kurgansky is also on the ballot for mayor. She said it would be a shame to lose the parish hall, but if elected, she would have to see what’s involved.

“My first thing is to have the goal, to make it happen, to say, ‘listen, let’s find a way to preserve it. And what do we need to make that happen?’ And then look at the options then,” said Kurgansky.

Read more:
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Mayoral candidate Chloe Hutchinson says she is interested in a private-public partnership, to keep the building available for community use.

“We can’t be buying every piece of building that shows up. I think we can certainly give a very clear message that we’re here to support them and that there is a way, there should be a certain budget that’s set aside for this type of endeavor,” she said

With two weeks until the municipal election, the Parish Hall sale has become a large electoral issue.

“I think the town has to worry more about its architectural integrity and the kind of services that it has to provide to its citizens,” said Gagnon.

It’s something residents including Gagnon will keep in mind when they vote on Nov. 7.

Leading up to the election, there are two mayoral debates at the Hudson Community Centre. The first is on Wednesday night and the second is on Thursday, both at 7 p.m.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Edmonton Elks face a steep climb if they hope to make the playoffs

The Edmonton Elks returned to the practice field off their bye week on Sunday as they look ahead to the final five games of the season.

The team has lost five games in a row and sits with a 2-7 record, dead last in the West Division.

The Elks are still mathematically alive for a playoff spot, but they will now have likely to run the table and win their final five games starting with Friday’s home matchup against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

The Elks follow Friday’s game with a home-and-home set with the Saskatchewan Roughriders and then road games against the Toronto Argonauts and the B.C. Lions.

Read more:
QB Taylor Cornelius to lead Edmonton as Elks try to break four-game losing streak

Head coach Jamie Elizondo says the climb won’t be easy but believes his team can still make a run.

“We have two missions, and the first mission has five targets,” Elizondo said.

“If you look at those five targets, those teams are either at or below or slightly above the .500 mark. If it comes close and we can win those five games, then we have the tie-breaker over Hamilton. If we beat Saskatchewan twice, then we have the tie-breaker over Saskatchewan. If we beat Toronto, then we will have, if it comes down to it, the tie-breaker over Toronto. If we beat B.C., then we will have the tie-breaker over B.C., so there’s a lot of tie-breakers in play still.”

Moving on from Trevor Harris

Last Sunday, the Elks traded quarterback Trevor Harris to the Montreal Alouettes in exchange for American defensive end Antonio Simmons.

For veteran receiver Greg Ellingson, it’s now the first time he won’t be on the same team as Harris since the 2015 season. He says it’s tough to see a good friend leave but he understands the business.

“We have a lot of memories, especially in Ottawa and here in 2019, but that’s part of the business,” Ellingson said.

“The front office has their job to do, and my job is to make plays as a receiver. This is my team and this is where I’m at right now, so I’m going to back everything (Elks’ management) do and I’m going to go out and try to get wins.”

The trade of Harris now means Taylor Cornelius is the Elks’ starting quarterback. He will start in his fourth game of the season on Friday night against the Tiger-Cats. Cornelius says he simply wants to move forward and give the team the best chance to win.

“I’m just excited to move forward,” Cornelius said. “I’m ready to get these next five games under our belt and see where we’re at, come the end of the season.”

In his third start of the season in a 26-16 loss to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Oct. 15, Cornelius completed 17 of 29 pass attempts for 187 yards passing and threw one touchdown pass, his fourth of the season. Overall, Cornelius has passed for 811 yards throwing four touchdown passes to six interceptions in four games played.

Simmons ready for a new start

Elks defensive end Simmons practised with his new team on Sunday after the Alouettes sent him to Edmonton in exchange for Harris. Simmons, who has seven defensive tackles and two sacks this season, says he wasn’t too surprised the Alouettes shipped him out.

“How it went the last two weeks when I was there, yeah I wasn’t surprised with how it went down,” Simmons said. “It’s a clean slate, and I’m happy that I get a fresh start. What happened in Montreal will stay in Montreal, and I’m just ready to move on.”

Read more:
Elks trade QB Trevor Harris to Montreal leaving Cornelius as the starter

In 2019, Simmons recorded 45 defensive tackles and seven sacks in his first season with the Alouettes.

The Elks host the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Friday night on The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium. Kick-off will be at 7:45 p.m. 630 CHED will have Countdown to Kick-off starting at 6 p.m.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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